What is Lyme?

Image of a tick in the grass possibly carrying Lyme Disease
An adult black-legged tick can carry the Lyme Disease bacteria and other infections.  (Source: lymedisease.org)

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by deer ticks and black-legged ticks. These tiny arachnids are typically found in wooded, coastal and grassy areas.

Lyme disease cases have been reported throughout the USA and Europe, as well as in more than 80 other countries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the USA every year……. That’s 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the USA.

In Europe there have been 360,000 cases of Lyme Disease in 20 years. Lyme aware health professionals in Australia estimate that as many as 200,000 people may have Lyme disease but not know as the Australian Government claims that it does not exist in Australia.

However, because diagnosing Lyme can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme may be misdiagnosed with other conditions. Many experts believe the true number of cases is much higher.

Lyme disease affects people of all ages. The CDC notes that it is most common in children, older adults, and others such as hikers and park rangers who spend time in outdoor activities and have higher exposure to ticks.

LymeDisease.org has developed a Lyme disease symptom checklist to help you document your exposure to Lyme disease and common symptoms for your healthcare provider. You will receive a report that you can print out and take with you to your next doctor’s appointment.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS

What Exactly Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete—a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme is called “The Great Imitator,” because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart.

Image of B. burgdorferi under atomic force microscope. Courtesy of Dr. Eva Sapi. Lyme Disease. Lyme Bacteria.
Image of B. burgdorferi (Lyme Disease bacteria) under atomic force microscope. Courtesy of Dr. Eva Sapi. (Source: lymedisease.org)

Patients with Lyme disease are frequently misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and various psychiatric illnesses, including depression. Misdiagnosis with these other diseases may delay the correct diagnosis and treatment as the underlying infection progresses unchecked.

How Do People Get Lyme Disease?

Most people get Lyme from the bite of the nymphal, or immature, form of the tick. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed. Because they are so tiny and their bite is painless, many people do not even realize they have been bitten.

a tick nymph on a finger - may carry Lyme Disease
Tick nymphs can be tiny but can still carry Lyme Disease bacteria and other infections. (Source: lymedisease.org)

Once a tick has attached, if undisturbed it may feed for several days. The longer it stays attached, the more likely it will transmit the Lyme and other pathogens into your bloodstream. Refer to tick section.

If pregnant women are infected, they sometimes pass Lyme disease to their unborn children and, while not common, stillbirth has occurred. Some doctors believe other types of human-to-human transmission are possible but little is known for certain.

(Information above sourced from LymeDisease.org)

How Is Lyme Disease Treated?

If caught early – within a few weeks of being bitten by an infected tick, Lyme disease can normally be treated with appropriate antibiotics.

However, longer term Lyme can be more difficult to treat and many people struggle with symptoms for years. This persistent, long-term chronic Lyme disease is what Hannah was able to successfully recover from using her multi-stage Lyme treatment plan.

Links:

www.lymedisease.org.au
www.lymedisease.org
www.cdc.gov/lyme/treatment/

How my unconventional approach led to my full recovery from chronic Lyme Disease