The Symptoms of Lyme
HOW LYME DISEASE WORKS
When an invasion of borrelia enters the bloodstream through a tick bite, the immune system immediately recognizes it and responds aggressively. The microbe, however, has no desire to overwhelm the host with a catastrophic infection. Borrelia clears the blood stream quickly and uses its corkscrew shape to bore deeply into tissues.
If immune function is robust, the host-microbe relationship is balanced and borrelia causes no symptoms. If immune function is not up to par, however, tug-of-war ensues between the microbe and the immune system.
For the most part, the intensity of the immune reaction determines the intensity of a person’s symptoms. In other words, most symptoms associated with Lyme disease are caused by the immune reaction and not the bacteria itself. Borrelia, which has a slow growth rate and does not depend on overwhelming the host, responds poorly to conventional antibiotic treatment beyond the first couple of weeks after the initial infection.
SYMPTOMS OF AN EARLY LYME INFECTION
One of the most well-known symptoms of Lyme disease is the classic “bull’s eye” rash (erythema migrans) that appears several days, or sometimes weeks, after getting a tick bite. For the bull’s eye rash, redness extends outward from the tick bite with an outer more prominent red ring.
Although the bull’s eye rash has long been considered definitive proof of Lyme disease, and considered more accurate than lab tests, even the rash may not be absolute. Only 30% of people with Lyme disease will get the rash, and only 10% of reported bull’s eye rashes are associated with the presence of borrelia in the blood (there are other types of microbes that can also cause the rash).
Other symptoms of acute Lyme disease include:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Neck stiffness
- Muscle aches
- Low grade fever
- *High fever and swollen lymph nodes generally indicate a co-infection
Having a history of tick bites, along with the bull’s eye rash and other Lyme disease symptoms, is the most reliable way to diagnose infection with borrelia. However, even this type of diagnosis is far from being absolute.
SYMPTOMS OF CHRONIC LYME DISEASE
Chronic Lyme disease is rarely fatal, but it can make you miserable for a lifetime. Typically, people with chronic Lyme disease look normal on the outside. Routine screening labs at the doctor’s office often come back as normal, which can be extremely frustrating for patients because they are often discounted as not being ill.
Inside, however, deep in tissues, a war is going on between a hidden microbe (or microbes) and the person’s immune system. This results in a wide spectrum of seemingly unrelated symptoms.
When Lyme disease becomes late-stage or chronic, a different set of symptoms may emerge from the initial onset of the infection. These symptoms may include:
- Tooth pain
- Chronic infection
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic pain
- Migrating arthritis or joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Chronic flu-like symptoms
- Neck stiffness and creaking
- Bell’s palsy (paralysis or weakness in the facial muscles of one side)
- Brain fog or loss of cognitive function
- Heightened sensitivity and agitation to noise and sound
- Ringing in ears
- Sleep disorders or trouble sleeping
- Visual changes or blurry vision
- “Floaters” in vision and eye discomfort
- Dizziness and instability
- Muscle twitching
- Paresthesias (burning or tingling in feet and hands)
- Tremors (head and hands)
- Chest pain
- Irregular heart beats
- Shortness of breath or difficulty catching breath
- Unstable bladder
- Gastrointestinal (GI) or digestive dysfunction
In symptomatic chronic Lyme disease, the immune system and the microbes reach a standoff. The degree of symptoms very much depends on the status of the person’s immune function. If the balance is tipped more in the favor of the immune system, symptoms are less. If the balance is tipped more in favor of the microbe, symptoms will be greater. The tip of the balance is very much influenced by the person’s genetic makeup and health habits. Lyme disease is different for every individual.
Not surprisingly, chronic Lyme disease shares many symptoms with other fatigue-like conditions including fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. Lyme disease is also commonly associated with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, and ALS.
THE COINFECTIONS OF LYME
Coinfections with other microbes or infections with other strains of borrelia can also complicate the picture of chronic Lyme disease.
Borrelia rarely travels alone. Ticks and other biting insects (mosquitoes, fleas, lice, chiggers, biting flies, scabies) carry a wide range of potentially opportunistic microbes. A handful of potential coinfecting microbes are now well known, but new ones are being discovered every day.
The list of the known microbes considered Lyme disease coinfections includes bartonella, mycoplasma, babesia, ehrlichia, and anaplasma, parasites, yeast, and/or viruses.
DR. ROSEN'S LYME DISEASE TREATMENT PROCESS
The healing process is not a battle with specific microbes as much as is it an imbalance within the entire body. The underlying cause of sickness is the immune system's inability to handle the constant burden of the lyme bacteria, coinfections, poor diet, toxins, and chronic stress.
The solution is breaking the vicious cycle of immune dysfunction and creating a healing environment within the body. He helps you accomplish this by:
- testing you for the factors that are negatively impacting your immune system
- introduce healing supplements
- using non-antibiotic IV therapies to boost your immune system and kill the bacteria
- making dietary & lifestyle suggestions that will help you feel better faster
During your initial consultation with Dr. Rosen, you will have a chance to talk with him about your lyme disease symptoms so that he may recommend the appropriate tests. Based on your symptoms and health history he will recommend a series of tests to determine the baseline for treatment. With the test results in hand, Dr. Rosen will recommend a lyme treatment protocol to fit your needs. He does not use a one-sized-fits-all approach. Each case of lyme disease is different and your needs will be addressed accordingly. Your lyme disease treatment will be tailored to your needs.