Lyme Disease and Treatment Options

Lyme Disease and Treatment Options

by Kamau Kokayi, MD

kamukokayiIt is early summer and you awake one morning with a headache, a stiff neck and achy joints, and you just can't seem to shake the fatigue. A week or even a month earlier you may have noticed a circular reddish rash that surfaced around what looked like an insect bite, spread for a few days, and then disappeared. Perhaps you didn't, though. You've spent a lot of time in the outdoors, raking in the yard near the brush and trees on your property, or perhaps hiking in the woods. Late spring or early summer is not the usual time to be coming down with the flu, but your symptoms surely seem flu-like, and all you wish to do is find relief from the headache, the aches and pains in your knees, neck, and back, and so you go back to bed.

While Lyme disease may not be in the forefront of your mind if you see yourself in this scenario, this description accurately describes what many who contract the tick-borne infection experience before seeking help. If the flu-like symptoms emerge soon after noticing a red bullseye-shaped rash—a central reddish-purple spot surrounded by a margin of clearer skin and then another red margin—and you've been outdoors where deer are frequent visitors, there is a good chance that Lyme borreliosis, and one of several coinfections, could be the culprit behind what you are feeling. If so, you would be well advised to seek the help of a physician knowledgeable in Lyme disease for immediate confirmation and treatment. The sooner, the better.

Lyme—A Complex and Wily Disease

Some Knowledge about Ticks, Disease, and Early Detection

Risk factors for becoming infected by an Ixodes tick carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the predominant spirochete bacterium that causes the disease, can be minimized by applying some commonsense precautions. It is additionally useful to have some knowledge about where the ticks that carry the disease live, and what to do if you visit or work in their natural habitat.

Incidence of the disease is most often reported in children, although the disease can affect anyone, young or old alike. Concerning physiological risk factors for Lyme, in the absence of a vaccine, if you or your children are in the tick's habitat and are bitten by a disease-carrying tick, there is no special immunity to protect you from becoming infected. It is thought, however, that people with compromised immune systems may be more susceptible to infection.

If a tick is discovered attached to your body but not yet engorged with blood, the likelihood of infection at that point is low. The longer the tick remains attached, the greater the likelihood of infection. Generally, a tick needs to be attached for 1–2 days before the Lyme spirochetes can be transmitted into your system. When removing an engorged tick, avoid crushing or squeezing body fluids from the tick into the bite, as this aids transmission of the Borrelia spirochete.

Reducing Risk of Lyme Disease

Lyme—Vast Symptoms, Frequently Misdiagnosed

Due to the vast range of symptoms seen in cases of Lyme disease, patients are oftentimes misdiagnosed, and may ricochet from one health care practitioner to another. Conditions confused with Lyme include but are not limited to the tick-borne co-infections of anaplasmosis or babesiosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, diabetes mellitus, lupus, multiple sclerosis, depression, and even arthritis.

Given a frequent absence of the classic erythema migrans rash and the ease with which a bite can be missed, particularly by a tick in the nymphal stage, there is no consistently reliable way to diagnose Lyme disease. In those patients who suffer Lyme disease in conjunction with any of the above diseases, the Lyme infection will frequently be overlooked. Moreover, there is not one definitive, widely accessible diagnostic test for the condition, further complicating diagnosis and proper treatment. Testing at Patients Medical is done strictly on an individual basis at the physician's expert discretion.

Learn about Patients Medical Integrative Approach

Start Your Road to Health with Patients Medical

Be informed, inspired and transformed with your own personal Lyme disease consultation at Patients Medical. For those that can make the journey, we are happy to welcome new patients to our medical clinic in New York City. Call us at 1-212-661-7156. We are here to listen and help.

Best in health,


Kamau Kokayi, MD
Family Medicine and Chinese & Holistic Medicine

Patients Medical PC

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