"Lyme Disease is epidemic in New England... Could you be suffering from undiagnosed Lyme Disease?”
Lyme disease is a worldwide epidemic that is particularly common in the New England area. It is an infectious disease caused by the bite of a tiny tick. The tick injects a corkscrew-shaped parasite called Borrelia Burgdorferi into the bloodstream where it rapidly multiplies and spreads into the skin, joints, brain, and organs of the body causing Lyme Disease.
Unsuspecting people get bit by this tick while out in the woodlands and brush that is common in our area or by coming in contact with their pets who carry the tick and can then develop an acute illness with a “bull's eye rash” at the site of the tick bite.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
If promptly treated with antibiotics, most people are cured of Lyme disease at this stage. If they are not promptly treated or if inadequately treated, the Lyme disease parasite can spread to the rest of the body affecting the joints, muscles, and nervous system.
Some people report a flu-like illness with:
- aches and pains
- sore throat
- severe fatigue
- neck stiffness
- muscle pains
- muscle stiffness
- swollen glands
- eye redness
These symptoms can appear and then disappear, even months to years after the initial tick bite. A typical pattern is a flare up every 4 weeks as the parasite reproduces and spreads and the immune system responds to fight it.
Nervous system abnormalities include memory loss, problems concentrating, and even a partial facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy).
Arthritic symptoms usually affect the knees, hips, or elbows.
First-Hand Experience with Lyme Disease
Dr. Kaye has a personal interest in Lyme, having been diagnosed with it and then treated for it and knows first hand the disabling persistent chronic Lyme syndrome. Because of his having developed the later form since he had no rash and was never treated after the presumed tick bite, he had to endure many months of antibiotics to get it under control.
He developed chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms, persistent joint pains that migrated, neck stiffness and pain, memory and concentration difficulties, hormonal imbalances and hypothyroidism due to Lyme. Fortunately nearly all resolved or are much improved after treatment.
Chronic Lyme Disease / Persistent Lyme Disease
There is some confusion and even some controversy about the concept of “Chronic Lyme Disease” with some traditional rheumatologists and infectious disease specialists dismissing the idea that Lyme can be a chronic disease. On the other side are the doctors who treat such patients and who have documented lab testing that shows a chronic infection and clinical improvement with antibiotic therapy.
Once the Lyme parasite has established itself throughout the body it is extremely difficult to eradicate, so thus the frequent relapses of the “chronic Lyme patient.” I prefer to call “chronic Lyme” unsuccessfully treated persistent Lyme disease and feel that if testing and clinical findings support the diagnosis, that such patients should be treated with a combination of antibiotic therapy (oral or intravenous), supportive nutritional supplementation, diet, and certain beneficial herbals that have anti-Lyme and immune-enhancing effects.
Treatment of any disease is always more successful if the doctor takes a holistic approach. We look at the whole person, assessing stressors, lifestyle, diet, nutrition, genetic variation and use that information to create a unique program for each patient.
Lyme Disease Testing
It is important to remember that the traditional Western Blot and IFA tests can be falsely negative and are not meant to be used to diagnose Lyme disease. Rather, they are, per the CDC, meant only for epidemiological research and to confirm the disease when present. These tests can be falsely negative if done too soon or done on a patient who is too ill to mount an appropriate immune response. What this means is that there are many Lyme-afflicted patients who are failed by traditional medicine and end up suffering needlessly from untreated Lyme due to a questionable, indeterminate, or falsely negative test wrongly interpreted by an inexperienced physician. Physicians should remember that Lyme is a clinical diagnosis-meaning that if a patient has a history and examination that suggests Lyme, and even if their testing is equivocal, they may warrant a trial of treatment with appropriate antibiotics to see if they improve. Sometimes an initially negative test will later prove to be positive when repeated after treatment.
We use testing designed to detect Lyme that includes the IFA, the Western Blot for both IgM and IgG, but also PCR. We can test the urine for Lyme proteins indicating an active infection. We also monitor CD57 NK cells as these are frequently suppressed in chronic illness such as untreated Lyme. We test for several co-infections that are seen with Lyme including Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, and Rickettsia.
Lyme is the great masquerader. Many times Lyme can seem to be another disease and frequently patients are treated for those other conditions, and symptoms may improve, but they never get better since the root cause (Lyme) is not treated. Some of the ways Lyme can present are: hormonal imbalance, low testosterone, irregular menses, miscarriage, premature menopause, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, unexplained dizziness and low blood pressure when standing up, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, memory loss, anxiety disorder/bipolar, insomnia, learning disability, tendonitis/arthritis. If you suffer from any of these illnesses, it is worth ruling out Lyme as a possible cause.