Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that is usually transmitted via the bite of an infected tick, which carry the bacterium in their stomachs. It’s interesting to note that this is a relatively new disease, having only been formally recognized in 1975, based on the original case that occurred in Lyme, CT.
While Lyme infections in the U.S. are most common in the northeast—especially in New York, where over half of all ticks are thought to carry the bacteria—they have been reported in all 50 states, as well as numerous other countries around the world.
What Are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?
There are three main “phases” for Lyme Disease, each of which are associated with their own set of symptoms, such as:
Phase 1: Early Localized Disease
- A red, tender rash that develops into a bulls-eye pattern
- General fatigue
- Muscle & joint stiffness
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Moderate to severe headache
Phase 2: Early Disseminated Disease
- Initial redness subsides, followed by joint, heart, and nervous system diseases
Phase 3: Late Disease
- Heart inflammation
- Facial muscle paralysis
- Joint inflammation and arthritis
- Increased propensity for anxiety and/or depression
What are Some Common Treatments for Lyme Disease?
Unfortunately, there are no Lyme disease vaccines currently available, so the best preventative measure is staying away from areas where tick infestations are known to occur. Once you’ve contracted the disease though, there are several treatment avenues available to you.
Antibiotics are the most common weapons used in the fight against Lyme disease, and different types are used depending on the patient’s stage of infection. The good news is that if you’ve recently noticed the telltale bulls-eye pattern developing on an area of your body, it can usually be treated effectively using only general antibiotics. However, those in later stages of the disease (such as those including nervous system damage) may require intravenous treatments.
You should keep in mind though that swelling joints and general arthritis symptoms might persist, even after your antibiotic treatment is concluded. Some experts think this is a result of your body’s continued autoimmune response to the original presence of the bacteria, which produces inflammation.
Are There Any Recent Developments in the Fight Against Lyme Disease?
The bacteria that product Lyme disease are known as spirochetes, primarily because they contain long, spiral “tails” that they use for movement. While spirochetes are most commonly associated with Lyme disease and syphilis, they can also cause other maladies such as leptospirosis and relapsing fever. However, only Lyme disease and syphilis are associated with nervous system disorders.
How Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help Your Lyme Disease?
In addition to antibiotics, physicians will often include hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a treatment to help patients fight off Lyme disease. This is because the bacterium that causes Lyme disease is known as “anaerobic,” which simply means that it cannot exist in oxygen. One of the primary benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is that the process safely increases oxygen levels within your body, which can ultimately cause a reduction of harmful bacteria.
Patients undergoing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for help with their Lyme disease may experience something called the Herxheimer response, which includes symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, flushing, and more. This is caused by endotoxins that are released as the harmful bacteria dies. Fortunately, this reaction typically lasts only a few hours to days, and additional pharmaceuticals can be prescribed to help ease any symptoms.