Is Lyme Disease Curable? Exploring Treatment Options for Lyme DiseaseSep 19, 2023
A study completed in 2020 found that as much as 21% of the world population may have had Lyme disease. While this study showed that the disease is less prevalent in North America, with only 9% of the people presenting Lyme disease antibodies, this is most likely a gross underestimation of the actual disease incidence due to the lack of reliable testing.
While you've probably heard plenty of scary stories of chronic Lyme disease and are worried about contact with ticks, you might wonder, "Is Lyme disease curable?" if you get it.
Read on to learn more about Lyme disease and how medical professionals treat those infected.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused when an infected deer tick, also known as a black-legged tick, bites a human. The tick picks up a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi when it bites other animals or rodents.
Then the tick passes the bacteria onto humans when it bites them, causing Lyme disease.
When bitten, a human might first notice a bullseye-like mark. It will get red in the middle with a ring around the bite location. The Lyme disease rash is a standard indicator of the disease but is often absent in children.
At the bite site, the reddish rash begins and can become a skin lesion known as an erythema migraine (EM).
Of note, Borrelia Burgdorferi is only one of dozens of forms of Borrelia that have been isolated. In addition, there are dozens more species of co-infections, including many forms of Bartonella, Babesia and more. Check out our other bogs and our website for further information on several of these.
Signs of Lyme Disease
It's common for Lyme disease to impact the skin, joints, heart, and/or the nervous system with symptoms. It can also affect victims in phases. These include:
- In weeks one to four, early localized Lyme disease
- In months one to four, early disseminated Lyme disease
- Four months to years later, late persistent, late disseminated, or just late Lyme disease
Symptoms will vary based on the stage of the disease. In most cases, early symptoms include:
- Flu-like symptoms, with fever and chills
- Skin Rash that may or may not resemble a bulls-eye (though much less commonly seen in children)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Stiff neck
As the disease progresses, symptoms evolve to impact multiple systems in the body. More chronic symptoms can include:
- Neck pain
- Joint pain
- Nerve pain
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Cardiac symptoms
- Brain Fog
- Anxiety and Depression
- Cognitive Impairments
Diagnosis of Lyme Disease
Most healthcare providers will begin with a medical history and consider closely the symptoms experienced. The provider will want to look for physical signs like the rash that though common, may be missed in skin fold areas, hairy areas and in children.
Traditional Lyme testing is very limited. It includes two-tiered testing but for many with immunodeficiency, with chronic disease and with multiple co-infections, may be falsely negative. You may need to consider specialty testing for more sensitive testing. Find a qualified practitioner who knows what to look for and how to best identify the infections.
Is Lyme Disease Curable?
The treatment for Lyme disease is to use antibiotics. Most commonly, doxycycline or amoxicillin get used for treatment. The amount and duration of antibiotics depend significantly on how advanced Lyme disease is in the body and often needs to be longer than traditionally considered.
In children, Dr. O’Hara also uses evidence-based herbal interventions to completely eradicate Lyme and it’s co-infections.
Some patients experience what's called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome or PTLDS. This can be considered for some chronic Lyme disease where symptoms linger and are treatment-resistant or indicate lack of complete treatment. The lack of complete multi-system treatment, looking at the whole body and the effects of Lyme on the immune, metabolic and mitochondrial systems.
Patients with other neurological conditions such as PANS can be triggered by Lyme disease and symptoms can be acutely presented.
Impact of Lyme Disease
Is Lyme disease curable? In most cases, patients can recover from Lyme disease with a multisystem approach. The combination of good nutrition, lifestyle management, effective nutraceuticals and herbals is essential in this treatment and in the recovery from Lyme disease.
If you're the parent or provider of a patient with Lyme, PANS, PANDAS, and BGE, Dr. O'Hara can help you. Contact us to learn more about her programs and the evidence-based research supporting these interventions.