Is Lyme disease curable? Indeed, the question seems to have reverberated through the continent for years. Spreading untold fear to the uninitiated. Maybe, you’re also stunned – asking yourself how can such small parasite that could walk around the nails of your hand and still have ample space to roll over give so much damage. Yes, Lyme is mainly injected to humans by a dark-legged tick. But the disease leaves considerable damage. Approximately, 300,000 Americans get the disease each year. For such a technologically advanced country, it all seems improbable.
The truth of the matter is Lyme disease has become a scourge of humanity ever since man learned to walk. Thanks to its devious nature. It was only in 1975 that the tick-borne illness was first reported. But of course, there were cases before that. Just largely misunderstood and wrongly reported. The good news is dying from Lyme is rare. The bad news? There are deaths attributed to it. No kidding. In this regard, knowledge is key. You definitely stand a greater chance of untangling yourself from the ‘messy affair’ called Lyme disease with the latest in scientific findings. To protect yourself. Read on.
History of Lyme Disease
Strictly speaking, Lyme disease is an accidental name. It’s true. Scientifically, It refers to an infectious disease that is caused by the Borr burgdorferi sensu lato bacteria. Lyme got its name from the a small town called Old Lyme in Connecticut, wherein 1975 the tick-borne disease was first reported. And the rest is history.
Today, Lyme disease has become the most common of all tick-related illnesses both in the United States and in Europe. In the US, it usually affects people from Upper Midwest to the Pacific Northeast/Northwest regions. And as is usually observed, it’s those people who get to spend lots of time in the woods that gets the health complication. Also, it’s no coincidence people with pets or farm animals which are allowed considerable time in wooded areas have reported a higher incidence of the Lyme.
The tricky part is you may not know that you are affected by Lyme until it’s too late. Majority affected experience these symptoms, but there are cases when no symptoms appear firsthand. The bulls-eye rash (i.e., erythema migrans) that result from the tick bite does not manifest in many cases for instance. And though deaths are highly unlikely, the symptoms like enlarged lymph nodes and vision changes can give you real hard time.
Lyme is an infectious disease being caused by bacteria. But it is not contagious. Meaning: It can’t be transferred from one person to another.
The main culprit in the introduction of the disease is the deer tick, a black-legged parasite that measures 3 to 10 mm long. Come to think of it, this tick is half the size of the usual tick you find squeezing the blood out of your dog.
The culprit tick comes of a different variety. It’s the Borrelia burgdoferi and the Borrelia mayonii type that is most common in the US while in Europe and Asia it’s Borrelia afzini together Borelia garinii.
Treating Lyme Disease
The good news is Lyme disease is indeed curable. But you’ll have greater chances of overcoming the tick-borne complication if you treat early. This is where it gets tricky as you may not even know you’re affected by the disease.
When detected early, all it takes may just be 14 to 21 days of taking in oral antibiotics. It’s as simple as that. And yes, it’s possible for you to lose all the traces of the disease.
To treat Lyme, physicians usually prescribe the following:
- For adults and small children, lactating women: Amoxicillin and cefuroxime
- For adults and children not less than 8 years old: doxycycline
Should the Lyme disease persist, doctors use the needle to treat you. Antibiotics is given intravenously for a similar 14-to-21 day span. Depending on the severity.
Word of warning: Even when the bacteria have been eradicated, symptoms sometimes prevail. It is generally believed this happens to patients who are prone largely to autoimmune diseases.
Most importantly, however, you have to understand that Lyme disease comes in 3 stages. If you are unable to detect it in the first stage which is a lot less taxing in symptoms, you will be facing harder times. And medication will have to step up too.
The Three Stages of Lyme Disease
Stage 1: Local
First note, that for the tick bite to infect you, the parasite must be present on the skin for 24 up to 48 hours. This is telling you that getting your place rid of these pesky bloodsuckers is one sure way to get the disease contained.
The most visible sign that you’ve been bitten is the “bull’s eye” rash. Yes, your skin will form circles; the rash telling your body a full-scale bacteria invasion is ongoing. The rash usually appears as a red spot with a wider reddish circle around it. It feels warm to some extent but the funny thing is you won’t feel pain. It won’t even itch. After 4 weeks or so, this rash reaction disappears.
The problem is this “bull’s eye” rash doesn’t usually present itself. You could be bitten and get no sign whatsoever. It definitely is misleading to some extent.
Stage 2: Early dissemination
If not stopped dead on its tracks, Lyme spreads to your whole body after a few more weeks. Then, you’ll experience flu-like symptoms. Careful, this could include:
- Vision changes
- Sore throat
- Bursting lymph nodes
Needless to say, you are getting weaker by the day. Complications can occur. Meningitis and bell’s palsy for instance set in.
Stage 3: Full blown dissemination
This is the most dangerous part. And even harder to treat as this stage can occur years after being bitten. By then, the symptoms are far more complicated, including:
- Numbness on limbs (e.g., hands, feet)
- Brain complications (e.g., inability to focus, memory loss)