What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete—a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by ticks. These tiny ticks are typically found in wooded and grassy areas. Although people may think of Lyme as an East Coast disease, it is found here on the West Coast and throughout the United States, as well as in more than sixty other countries. Besides ticks, Lyme disease can also be transmitted from any vector borne insect.
Lyme is called “The Great Imitator,” because its symptoms can imitate many other diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatiod arthritus, Lupus, Thyroid Disease, Depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and many more. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart.
Patients with Lyme disease are frequently misdiagnosed with other diseases, which may delay the correct diagnosis and treatment as the underlying infection progresses unchecked.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 400,000 with an increase of 10x what was previously believed are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US every year.
What are the Symptoms?
In Early Lyme the symptoms can include: flu like symptoms, headaches, fatigue, rash, fever, sweats, chills, muscle pain, joint pain, muscle pain, neck pain and sleep issues.
Chronic Lyme symptoms can include: fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, ringing in ears, sleep issues, cognitive issues, brain fog, tremors, neuropathy, depression, headaches, heart related issues and palpitations to name a few.
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, it may become late-stage or chronic.
Many Lyme symptoms, such as fatigue, cognitive impairment, joint pain, poor sleep, mood problems, muscle pain, and neurological presentations also occur in other diseases making it hard for some Doctor’s to diagnose.
How do I get a Lyme Disease Diagnosis?
Lyme disease is diagnosed by looking at your medical history, symptoms and exposure to ticks. Because the typical diagnostic tests for Lyme are so insensitive, a negative test result does not mean you don’t have Lyme. There are many reasons why someone who actually has Lyme may have a negative test result. There may not have been time for antibodies to develop; the immune system may be suppressed; or the person may be infected with a strain the test doesn’t measure. Finding a Lyme Literate Doctor is key to healing.
How can I Prevent Lyme Disease?
The best defense against tick-borne illness is to avoid contact with ticks in the first place. Your next best defense is to quickly find and remove any ticks that may latch on to you. If you have the tick you can have it tested.
Avoid Areas where Tick’s live
Ticks tend to be near the ground, in leaf litter, grasses, bushes and fallen logs. High risk activities include playing in leaves, gathering firewood and leaning against tree trunks. When you hike, stay on cleared trails.
What to Wear
Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves. Tie back long hair and wear a hat. Light-colored clothing helps you spot ticks before they cause trouble. Spraying footwear with repellent can help prevent ticks from crawling up your shoes.
Use Repellent on Exposed Skin
Studies show that repellents with Picaridin, DEET or lemon eucalyptus oil are the most effective.
Check for Ticks
When outdoors, take the time to inspect your clothing and skin for ticks. Brush off those that aren’t attached and remove any that are.
Protect Your Pets
Ticks can infect dogs and cats, too. Your pets fur can act like a “tick magnet,” carrying ticks inside your home. Check your pets ears, shoulders and upper legs as ticks tend to be in those areas to feed. Consult with your veterinarian about tick protection for your pets.
How do I get tested for Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease can be hard to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of many other illnesses. If you think you or a family member may have Lyme disease, contact a Lyme Literate Doctor in your area for further testing. Your doctor will do a careful medical history and physical exam. Antibody tests can sometimes be used to help identify Lyme disease. Other tests may be done in certain situations. Igenix Lab and others do blood tests to see if you have Lyme or it’s co-infections. Please note that no test is 100% accurate. A Lyme Literate Doctor will be able to use your labs and symptoms to make a diagnosis.
HOPE Leads to Healing
There are many reasons why you MUST get tested correctly by a Lyme Literate Physician.
The average Lyme test is a two step process. The lab will first perform the enzyme linked ELISA test. If you test positive for the ELISA test they will perform the Western Blot Test. This process is flawed because the ELISA is known to miss 50% of the cases. (cdc.gov)
FALSE negative test results occur over 56% of the time (Stricker 2007) with average Lyme testing because:
- Not enough time for antibodies to develop (cdc.gov)
- Immune system may be suppressed
- May be infected with a strain the test does not measure
- Lyme spirochete can be in dormancy phase, encapsulated in the cell wall or found deep into the host tissue.
- No spirochetes found in collected fluids on day of test
- Recent antibiotic/anti-inflammatory treatment
- Many Physicians do not know that: co-infections (that a Lyme tick can ) must be tested for and treated BEFORE the Lyme is treated.
- Because the lab has been pressured to raise its cut off too high or the patient is not producing the “right” bands to be considered positive, the test can come back as a FALSE negative. (anapsid.org)
Nearly 40% of Lyme patients end up seeing more than 5 doctors over nearly 2 years and spending thousands of dollars before being correctly diagnosed. (ilads.org)
A Lyme Literate Doctor will be able to use your lab tests and symptoms to make a diagnosis.
LYME LITERATE DOCTORS IN SONOMA/MARIN COUNTIES
Clear Center of Health
Marin Natural Medicine Clinic
FOCUS Health Group
Hill Park Integrative Medical Center
Redwood Valley Clinic
Dr. Robert Gitlin, D.O.
8501 West Road
Redwood Valley, CA 95470
Gordon Medical Associates
Santa Rosa Office
3471 Regional Parkway
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
361 Third Street, Suite J
San Rafael, CA 94901