The Midwest Lyme Foundation is a dedicated group of volunteers who strive to provide community awareness, information, and physician training for the treatment and management of Lyme Disease in the Midwest.
We recommend watching Under Our Skin, an award winning documentary about Lyme Disease.
Chronic Lyme Disease
Even with all of the technological and medical advancements our world has achieved, our universe, environment and our bodies still hold on to mysteries unsolved. Lyme disease is one such mystery. While some doctors believe it’s easy to treat, others see it as a chronic condition that is elusive, insidious and relentless. To unravel the mystery of Lyme disease, there are three questions that need to be asked. Does chronic Lyme disease exist? How do I know if I have chronic Lyme disease? Is there a cure for chronic Lyme disease?Does chronic Lyme disease exist?
- Lyme disease is caused by the spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Spirochetes are distinguished by their spiral shape, allowing them to drill into deep tissue, such as muscle and connective tissue. This allows the bacteria to hide from antibiotics in the blood.
- Most ticks that carry Lyme disease also carry other diseases. These co-infections can complicate the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease.
- B. burgdorferi can also resist treatment by changing into a spheroplast (cyst) shape.
- When comparing its growth rate to strep throat, B. burgdorferi is very slow growing, with a doubling time of 12-18 hours as opposed to 20-30 minutes for strep. Since most antibiotics are only effective against bacteria when they are dividing, this longer doubling time necessitates longer treatment.
How do I know if I have chronic Lyme disease?
- There is no definitive Lyme disease test that is 100% reliable. However, the bulls-eye rash is definitive for the infection. Not all will get a bulls-eye rash and those that do, will have it for only a short period of time.
- A clinical diagnosis is when a Lyme doctor looks at symptoms, medical history and a physical examination instead of relying only on laboratory tests. This is the preferred method since current testing methods can produce false negatives.
- Lyme disease travels throughout the body, affecting any and all systems. This causes misdiagnosis because symptoms come and go.
- Of the 37 known species of Borrelia, 12 are Lyme related. Different strains will produce different symptoms. Only a Lyme specialist should determine a Lyme disease diagnosis.
Is there a cure for chronic Lyme disease?
- An early diagnosis and proper treatment can prevent Lyme disease from becoming a chronic condition.
- Testing and treatment for other tick-borne infections is required for effective Lyme disease treatment.
- Since there are many different strains of Lyme disease, combinations of co-infections and individual immune systems, treatment will vary from patient to patient. Building the immune system with proper diet and supplements, as well as antibiotic therapy in combination with other alternative treatments can get you on the road to recovery.
While these questions may not have yes or no answers, our hope is that you have an understanding of Lyme disease and a direction to go from here.