During this period, antibiotics can effectively treat the infection if the diagnosis has been made. Please note that the reproduction cycle of the bacteria is approximately 4 weeks. According to several doctors who specialize in Lyme disease, a 4 to 6 week antibiotic treatment could greatly increase the chances of eradicating the bacteria as well as prevent more serious consequences related to the chronic phase of the disease. Talk to your doctor.
Unfortunately, when there is no erythema migrans, which is about 30% of cases, the symptoms are often mistaken for those of the flu and Lyme disease goes undetected.
When the initial infection is not treated, it can spread to different systems of the body. Depending on the general health and state of the immune system of a person, the symptoms can vary greatly from a person to another, but also from a period to another for the same person.
The list of symptoms is very long. That is why it is difficult to diagnose Lyme disease as seemingly disparate symptoms are not always identified as being connected and can sometimes be wrongly associated with other diseases (however, in the province of Quebec, this disease generally goes undetected).
Here is a non-exhaustive list of symptoms:
Pressure in the head
Twitching of facial muscles, facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy, Horner’s syndrome)
Double or blurry vision
Oversensitivity to light
Buzzing in ears
Diarrhea and/or constipation
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Bone pain or joint pain migrating to different body parts for no apparent reason
Stiffness of joints, neck and back
Shortness of breath and difficulty getting full breath
Night sweats or unexplained chills
Numbness in the body, tingling
Mood swings, irritability
Difficulty falling asleep or too much sleep
Confusion, difficulty thinking “brain fog”
Difficulty with concentration
Testicular or pelvic pain
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Low body temperature
Increased effect from alcohol
Symptoms seem to come and go
Ticks can carry several other diseases. Furthermore, they can transmit several infections from just one bite. Among the most common:
Chlamydia trachomatis and chlamydial pneumonia
Again, these diseases can be mistaken with other health problems that show common symptoms.
It is generally difficult to diagnose Lyme disease, especially during the chronic phase. Several factors come into play:
Symptoms similar to other diseases including:
Autism or PDD
Chronic fatigue syndrome
And many more!
Unfortunately, primary care practitioners are unfamiliar with this disease because it is fairly new in our regions. Moreover, the tools available in the province of Quebec to help diagnose this disease are effective only under very specific conditions. Research in the field has been conducted in the past ten to fifteen years, but professionals are not always well-informed about the results of recent research.
The tests available are not always sensitive enough to allow for diagnosis. For example, the ELISA test used by the public health system in the province of Quebec is known to have a sensitivity that ranges between 30% and 60% according to scientific literature. That means that there could be 40% to 70% of false negatives. Furthermore, depending on the immune status of the person and time of blood sampling, antibodies might not be produced even though the infection is present. And yet, most of the tests that are currently available are based on the detection of antibodies.
Health Canada’s recommendations, as well as those of the CDC in the United States, are to always use the patient’s clinical profile as a basis to make a diagnosis. Test results should only be used as a reference as is the case for several diseases.
We have formed a partnership with a German laboratory to offer patients some more comprehensive and sensitive tests that are not currently available in Canada. These tests could become an interesting tool to help your doctor make a diagnosis. Please note that analysis are done using a variety of bacteria from Europe, Asia, North America and more.
For support or for more information concerning Lyme Disease you may consult the web site of the Association Québécoise de la Maladie de Lyme at aqml.ca .
Be proactive, make your health a priority, and see if these tests apply to you. Contact us for more details.