Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease Treatments—Conventional Medicine

by Kamau Kokayi, MD
Kamau Kokayi bw

A diagnosis of Lyme disease is usually made based upon report of a tick bite, or the clinical symptoms, the erythema migrans (EM) rash, if present, or the appearance of flu-like symptoms common to viral infections: headache, pain in joints, fatigue. An EM rash, followed by summer flu-like symptoms, as well as inhabiting or having visited the likely habitat for Lyme ticks are all good indications that a tick-borne infection has been acquired.

However, in conventional medicine, confirmation by laboratory testing is often recommended before proceeding with treatment. Lab tests are used by conventional medical practitioners to identify antibodies in the blood or serum against B. burgdorferi for the first few weeks following infection. This "presumptive," or first-step testing recommendation is usually made after identifying the physical symptoms listed above.

Common diagnostic tests conventionally suggested when Lyme disease is suspected include:

  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for antibodies against Lyme
  • Western blot test, a more specific antibody test confirming ELISA results
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, a technique that replicates B. burgdorferi DNA for identification

Following a positive ELISA test, serological Western blot testing is not sensitive during the first one to two weeks of infection. A course of antibiotics is often recommended for 10 to 20 days with a positive ELISA test. If symptoms persist after treatment, a follow-up Western blot test is likely to be performed and further treatment may be prescribed.

According to the CDC Division of Vector-Borne Infective Diseases, symptoms of Lyme disease can generally be eliminated with antibiotics if administered at an early stage. Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health report that most patients can be cured with a four-week course of oral antibiotics. The authors suggest a second four-week course may be helpful if symptoms recur or persist. Antibiotics most commonly used include doxycycline for adults, amoxicillin for children, or cefuroxime axetil. Intravenous treatment may be required for other patients, with drugs such as ceftriaxone or penicillin.

At later stages, however, antibiotics may or may not be effective. Some doctors are of the belief that short-term dosing of antibiotics is preferable, while others suggest longer-term dosing, but there is significant controversy in both the conventional and integrative medical community over this aspect of treatment.

For some patients with difficult cases, specialists in the treatment of this tick-borne illness follow lengthy antibiotic and antifungal protocols. Some of these treatments include IV antibiotics twice per day for up to a year. Some doctors continue well beyond that time period if they deem it necessary. Many doctors incorporate both antibiotic and specialized nutritional supplementation into their treatment plans.

Begin Your Journey to Wellness with Patients Medical

The effects of chronic Lyme disease can significantly affect your health, livelihood, and overall well-being. Conventional antibiotic therapy may provide an initial sense of relief, but if your symptoms should return, continue, or worsen in spite of conventional therapy, as they do in many Lyme sufferers, broadening your therapeutic options is a worthwhile step toward restoring both your health and your sense of well-being.

At Patients Medical we draw upon both modern and ancient healing arts to tackle the oft-times bewildering problems chronic Lyme disease presents in our patients. Our team of Lyme experts can develop a personalized, integrative treatment protocol designed to optimize your long-term health and support you in countering the symptoms and detrimental effects of Lyme disease.

Begin Your Journey to Wellness with Patients Medical

Our job at Patients Medical is to listen, to connect the dots between a patient's medical history, symptoms, and their underlying causes. Patients Medical is a superb place for women and men to secure integrative and holistic health care from providers who give personalized care, partner with the patient to focus on the root cause of their illness, support their recovery, and help them maintain good health.

To make an appointment with one of our physicians, please call us at 1-212-794-8800. We look forward to hearing from you.

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