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Lyme disease (Lyme disease) is the most famous tick-borne disease that is transmitted by ticks. Diagnosis is simple if migratory erythema occurs, but Lyme disease tests are often necessary. Symptoms of Lyme disease vary and depend on the stage of the disease. Treatment of Lyme disease is not complicated as long as it is diagnosed quickly. However, the chronic form can cause a lot of suffering. Check what are the symptoms of Lyme disease and what is the treatment of Lyme disease - according to the IDSA and ILADS standards.

Lyme disease - tick-borne disease

Lyme disease(Latinborreliosis ,morbus Lyme ), otherwiseLyme disease , tick-borne disease - because it is transmittedticks , is a relatively new disease - it has been diagnosed since the second half of the 1980s. Lyme disease has many different symptoms, and its treatment is possible through two different methods.

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria classified as spirochetes -Borrelia burgdorferi- discovered in 1982 by W. Burgdorfer andBorrelia garinii ,Borrelia afzelii ,Borrelia japonica .

These bacteria can appear in several forms - asspirochetes , and also in spore forms (e.g.cysts ). The spirochetes are very mobile, whilespore formsimmobile, but they are resistant to some antibiotics that destroy the spirochetes.

Borreliacan penetrate into human cells (macrophages, lymphocytes, fibroblasts) and survive there. Some types of Lyme disease cause joint ailments, others neurological. There are also bacteria that cause skin changes.

Lyme disease caused by spirochetes of the genusBorrelia burgdorferi ,afzeliiigariniiis transmitted by ticksIxodes .

Lyme disease - symptoms and stages of the disease

Lyme disease, regardless of its type and severity, attacks connective, muscle and nervous tissue.

  • Lyme disease - early phase

The first symptoms of the disease(early local, limited phase) develop within 1-3 weeks of the bite.

May appearLyme skin symptoms:

  1. Wandering erythema - redness with a diameter of a few to several centimeters, may be slightly convex, warm, painful to the touch. The typical erythema after a tick bite is lighter than the inside. Warning! Wandering erythema occurs in approx. 30%. cases of Lyme disease (only 10% of children).
  2. Lyme pseudo-lymphoma , which is a painless inflammatory infiltrate at the tick bite site, is an alternative clinical picture of the first stage of Lyme disease. It occurs mainly on the ear lobe, nipple, or scrotum.

Flu-like symptoms may appear in this phase.If antibiotics are not given, Lyme disease becomes disseminated.

  • Lyme disease - disseminated early phase

Secondary symptomsappear within 2 weeks to several months. In this phase, the spirochetes travel to various organs, using both the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Sometimes migratory erythema reappears - usually several, but smaller than the one that occurs in phase one. It can also occur:

  • fever
  • headaches
  • weakness
  • muscle pains

Besides, depending on where the spirochetes find their way, cardiological, ophthalmological (e.g. iritis) or neurological symptoms (mainly nerve palsy) may occur.

Lyme disease - late phase

In this phase, Lyme disease is more difficult to diagnose and treat, because it gives quite non-specific symptoms, and tick bites usually after a few years are not associated with them. Chronic Lyme disease can belatent for many yearsand produce no symptoms, and at some point unexpectedly attack e.g. the nervous system, eyes, muscles or joints. It can also cause skin symptoms.

Even after eliminating the spirochetes, some patients still complain of symptoms before treatment. This does not mean, however, that it was ineffective, but rather thatspirochetes caused permanent damage to the body , damaging joints or other organs. The list of symptoms of chronic Lyme disease is long.

The symptoms of chronic Lyme disease include: neurological symptoms:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • joint pain
  • muscle tics
  • joint stiffness

The patient may see double, have facial muscles paralysis, dizziness,problems with speaking, spatial orientation.

Lyme disease - skin symptoms

The skin symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • wandering erythema
  • painless inflammatory changes at the site of a tick bite (pseudo-phlegmon) - mainly on the ear lobe, nipple or scrotum
  • chronic atrophic dermatitis - gray-red spots on the skin that are relatively rare.

Nervous system Lyme disease - symptoms

Nervous Lyme disease , or Neuroborreliosis, accounts for 15-40 percent of all Lyme disease cases, and its symptoms can appear many years after a tick bite and increase over time.Lyme disease - symptoms after years:

  • fibromyalgia
  • muscle tremors
  • Przeczulice
  • paresthesias
  • root pains
  • flaccid paresis
  • meningitis or encephalitis
  • convulsions
  • palsy of cranial nerves
  • problems with concentration and memory disorders
  • symptoms of encephalopathy, i.e. intellectual disorders (dementia) and character disorders.

See what erythema looks like after a tick bite:

See the gallery of 5 photosAccording to an expertBeata Kowalska-Werbowy, a doctor treating Lyme disease according to ILADS

Lyme disease prevention - what to do when a tick bites you?

It is a myth that some time must pass from the moment of being bitten for an infection to occur. I have patients who have removed a tick at the stage of sticking it into the skin.

They were lucky because there was erythema - a clear indicator of Lyme disease. Luck in the sense that, following the standard descriptions, if it were not for the erythema, the risk of Lyme disease would be eliminated by conventional doctors looking at this disease.

The tick does not have to stick into the body , it is enough to deposit its faeces on the skin and it can cause infection. The habitat of the bacteria is the content of the tick's digestive tract.

If it bites you, take it out, e.g. with a special syringe that generates a vacuum (from the pharmacy).

If someone removes it manually, put on disposable gloves to prevent it from becoming infected.

The tick can be sent for PCR testing for Lyme disease(or full panel: Lyme disease plus co-infections) to CB DNA in Poznań.

Then we can wait for the tick test result or start antibiotic therapy until a negative result is obtained, which is not a mistake, because allPoland is considered an endemic area for Lyme disease.

If the result is negative,we stop treatment; if it is positive, we continue: according to the standard, giving an antibiotic for Lyme disease for up to 3 weeks in total, and according to doctors treating according to ILADS - a much larger dose for at least 6 weeks.

Blood for PCR testing for Lyme disease can also be sent two days after the bite .If erythema occurs, the treatment time is extended to 6-8 weeks.

You can read about what other symptoms of Lyme disease can be in the articles:

  • Lyme arthritis - symptoms and treatment
  • Lymphatic Lyme disease - causes, symptoms, treatment
  • Complications after Lyme disease - neurological, joint, cardiac
  • Lyme disease in children - symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Lyme disease research

Unfortunately,none of the available tests can be 100 percent. exclude or confirm Lyme disease . Blood serological tests detect IgM and IgG antibodies againstBorrelia .

Unfortunately, antibodies do not appear in the serum until a few weeks after infection, when the disease has long progressed. In addition, bacteria can spread (from the blood into the synovial fluid or central nervous system) and the levels of antibodies in the blood drop. It happens, therefore, that in patients with live spirochetes in the body, the test result is negative.

In Poland, the most popularELISA test -often false negative - it isreliable in 30 percent. cases.

The more sensitive test (70% reliability) is the Western Blot test, but it can be done at least 3 weeks after the bite.

The most accurate diagnosis is provided by PCR, which is a test that looks for the DNA of bacteria (in blood or urine, synovial or cerebrospinal fluid). They can be done in several places in Poland a few days after the bite, because it is not related to antibodies.

Most often, the diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical symptoms,after excluding other diseases.

Lyme disease, especially chronic, is often confused with diseases such as:

  • multiple sclerosis
  • neurosis
  • rheumatism
  • fibromyalgia
  • lupus erythematosus

Lyme disease treatment

Reliable diagnostics would make Lyme disease treatable immediately. The earlier the therapy is started, the shorter it is and the greater the chance of a full recovery.

A quickly cured disease leaves no damage to the body.For now, there is no need to count on a vaccineagainst this disease.

Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. SomeLyme disease treatment lasts one and a half years, and in others only a few weeks. Where does this difference come from?

The reason is not the form of Lyme disease, but the fact that the disease lasts until a correct diagnosis is made. According to our procedure ( according to IDSA- American Society of Infectious Diseases), it is believed that after a short antibiotic treatment, Lyme disease is defeated once and for all.

If the patient still feels unwell, he or she simply suffers from the so-called post-relapse syndrome. There are no indications then for antibiotic treatment. Symptomatic treatment is provided when he is stubborn.

Doctors associated in another association - ILADSare of the opposite opinion. They believe that Lyme disease should be treated with long and complex antibiotic therapy, and the duration of treatment is determined individually. A short series of antibiotics only immunizes bacteria.

Lyme disease is a relatively young disease, it has not been fully understood yet.

A patient who has been struggling with Lyme disease for years (healed or not at all diagnosed) is sent to a psychiatrist (sometimes it happens that this specialist detects the real cause of suffering - Lyme disease).

At best, the patient hears that he is a hypochondriac, delusional. Such patients are saved by doctors specializing in Lyme disease, because … they have experienced this disease themselves and tried the therapy on themselves. Which, of course, does not mean that sometimes many years of antibiotic therapy makes sense.

Worse:you don't get immunity after suffering from Lyme disease.The only thing to do is protect yourself against ticks by all available methods (clothing, repellants).

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