What is Lyme?

     Lyme Disease (commonly misspelled as Lime or Lymes) is a tick-borne illness and is most commonly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected deer tick. When an infected tick bites a mammal for a blood meal, spirochetes enter the blood stream. Spirochetes are long, slender bacteria, spiral shaped like a telephone cord.  They travel through the body in a cork screw fashion rotating in place. This allows them to move from the blood stream, where they originally entered, into body tissue which explains the wide ranging symptoms of Lyme.

     The longer the spirochetes are left alone, the quicker they multiply and wiggle their way into every part of the body. The longer spirochetes are left untreated, the longer it takes to totally recover.

     According to the IDSA (Infectious Diseases Society of America) Lyme disease is “hard to catch and easy to cure”. It is rare, especially outside northeast United States and is easily diagnosed by the presence of a bull’s eye rash and positive blood tests. The only appropriate treatment for Lyme is a two to four week course of antibiotics. There is no scientific evidence of the existence of chronic Lyme disease & anyone continuing to have symptoms after 4 weeks of antibiotics is classified as pshologically challenged. These guidelines are the basis for which patients are denied treatment.

     In contrast, according to the ILADS, (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) Lyme disease is not rare. It is spread by ticks that are present in many areas beyond the northeastern areas of the US. Diagnosis can be difficult because people who have the disease can suffer from very different symptoms, including symptoms that mimic other diseases. Many people who contract the disease never exhibit a bull’s eye rash. Existing blood tests are unreliable, so physicians must use clinical judgment along with test results.

     Lyme disease was the first major new disease discovered after a Supreme Court decision made it possible for scientists to patent and profit from “ownership” of live organisms. This ruling created a system in which more money can be made by creating tests and drugs to relieve symptoms than to find a way to cure patients.

     At that time scientists began researching the disease and there was a mad scramble for information. Now instead of working together to find a cure, scientists carefully guarded their information and looked for ways to make money from their discoveries.  The result is that eleven of the fourteen 2006 IDSA Lyme Disease Authors or their employers make money from the Lyme disease guidelines as they are currently written.

     The ILADS was formed by concerned physicians who want to make a difference. They have published a different set of guidelines based on their experience treating Lyme Disease and the research of scientists willing to help rather than profit.

     Lyme Disease symptoms may show up fast, with a bang, or very slowly and innocuously. There may be initial flu-like symptoms with fever, headache, nausea, jaw pain, light sensitivity, red eyes, muscle ache and stiff neck. If left untreated or treated insufficiently symptoms may creep into ones life over weeks, months or even years. They wax and wane and may even go into remission only to come out at a later date…even years later.

     Because of the range of symptoms patients often exhibit parts of serveral diseases. The one common thread with Lyme Disease is the number of systems affected (brain, central nervous system, autonomic nervous system, cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, musco-skeletal, etc.) and sometimes the hourly/daily/weekly/monthly changing of symptoms.  No one will have all symptoms but if many are present serious consideration must be given by any physician to Lyme as the possible culprit.

     It is estimated that 30 percent of acute Lyme disease patients develop chronic Lyme (chronic borreliosis; neuroborreliosis). That is, despite antibiotic and other treatment, the Borrelia burgdorferi organism remains alive and well, periodically causing a worsening of symptoms or causing new symptoms to appear.

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