Lyme disease is an illness caused by bacteria known as “Borrelia burgdorferi”, a type of spirochete bacterium. This bacterium is transmitted to animals and man through the bite of infected ticks. Not all ticks are infected. Infection rates in tick populations vary by tick species and geographic region from as few as two percent to 90 percent or more. There are other antigens that are considered and screened for when determining Lyme disease; these include Bartonella Henselae, Ehrlichea (Ehrlichiosis) and Babesia.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF LYME DISEASE?
The tick bite may produce symptoms in as early as a week or as late as a few months. Fifty percent of individuals will develop a large, reddish rash about 2 inches in diameter appears and expands around or near the site of the bite. Sometimes, more than one rash site will appear. Other initial symptoms may include: fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle and/or joint pain. If left untreated, within a few weeks to months, complications, such as meningitis, facial palsy, or heart abnormalities may occur. Also, later symptoms may develop in people who did not have early symptoms or did not recognize them. Chronic Lyme disease can cause neurological problems, such as cognitive difficulty. Cognitive difficulties can manifest as an inability to start projects, difficulty in doing multiple tasks, getting lost going places, memory loss, concentration problems, personality changes, and irritability. Physically–Swelling and pain in the large joints may recur over many years. Overall, this is a disease that produces symptoms that may be vast and affect numerous bodily systems.
WHY IS LYME DISEASE DIFFICULT TO DIAGNOSE?
Since Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria that can invade all parts of the body, including skin, muscles, joints, nervous system, the cardiovascular system, ocular tissue, sinus tissue, gastrointestinal tract, and lungs, it can often mimic different illnesses and syndromes. This infection may trigger a variety of host responses, depending on the individual. Unfortunately, individuals suffering from Lyme disease are too often erroneously labeled “hypochondriacs”.
HOW MAY LYME DISEASE BE TREATED?
The typical initial course of treatment for Lyme disease begins with running the proper lab work through Lab facilities that are specialized in Lyme and co-infection testing; one example is IGeneX laboratory. Traditionally, antibiotics may be used as a first line treatment option. However, an integrative medical approach compliments the antibiotic treatment and has shown to yield efficient and lasting results, as well.
At Arizona Integrative Medical Center, PC, Paul Stallone, NMD believes the most effective treatment plan begins by considering the whole picture and looking at the individual’s recent symptoms and disease history, family history, metabolism, past immune function problems or infection, history of antibiotic treatment, nutritional status, and psychospiritual factors. When all these are taken into consideration, a much more effective treatment plan can be ascertained.