Lyme disease: What is it and why do the symptoms last so long? Bestselling Author Dr.Steven Gundry has some helpful answers about Lyme disease.
What is Lyme disease, where does it come from, how good are the treatments and is this painful disease truly curable?
What is Lyme disease and what are the symptoms?
Lyme borreliosis or Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted to a person when they are bitten by an infected tick. In the United States Lyme disease is one of the most common vector-borne diseases. Approximately 476,000 people may get Lyme disease each year in the United States.
What are Lyme disease stages and are the symptoms in each stage different?
There are 3 Lyme disease stages and each one may present different symptoms. If left untreated, these symptoms can become very complicated and painful.
Stage 1 (Early localized) – This stage usually occurs 1 to 30 days after tick bite. At this stage patient may experience wide range of symptoms including skin rash, low fever and headaches.
- Erythema migrans (EM) rash – The classic rash occurs in 70 to 80 percent of infected patients and may develop 5 to 7 days after tick bite. The circular rash usually occurs at the site of the tick bite. The rash expands steadily over several days reaching over 12 inches or more across. If left untreated, the rash persists for over 3 weeks. More than 20 percent of patients may have recurrent episodes of the rash and multiple rashes are not uncommon.
- Fever – Low fever is most likely a sign of the body fighting inflammation caused by Lyme or Lyme triggered autoimmune inflammation.
- Fatigue – Many patients suffering from Lyme disease and other underlying autoimmune conditions experience frequent fatigue, so even the simplest activities can cause tiredness
- Vision issues – Visual problems include eye redness and tearing.
Stage 2 – Often develops 3-12 weeks after the initial infection. This stage brings more symptoms and more complications.
- Fever – Most Lyme disease patients will experience Flu-like symptoms that include fever, dizziness, and body pain.
- Headaches – Lyme disease can spread through the nervous system and can inflame the tissues where the brain and spinal cord meat. This can cause headaches, neck pain or stiffness and light sensitivity.
- Muscle Pain – Muscle pain is common feature of Lyme disease.
- Chest Pain – Some Lyme disease patients are known to experience sharp chest pain that often mimics heart attack.
- Palpitations – In some cases Lyme disease patients can develop Lyme carditis. This can lead to something that physicians call “heart block”. In rare cases Lyme carditis can be life threatening and some patients may require temporary pacemaker.
- Dyspnea – Lyme disease patients often experience shortness of breath and light headedness.
- Eye Pain and Keratitis – Lyme disease patients can develop eye structure inflammation. Eye inflammation appears in 2nd and 3rd stage. These inflammations can cause eye pain, flashing lights, color vision loss, and in rare occurrences inflammation of the optic nerve can cause complete vision loss.
- Joint Pain – Swelling of one or more joints. The affected joint may feel warm to the touch and can cause pain during movement. Knees are the most affected joints, but other joints including shoulder, elbows, jaw, hip and wrist can also be affected.
These symptoms can last up to 20 weeks. More than twenty percent of patients have CNS involvement including meningitis, encephalopathy, and cranial nerve neuropathy. Some patients have been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. Extreme irritability and depression are common. Some patients also experience deficits in concentration, cognition, memory loss and changes in personality.
Stage 3 (Late Lyme disease) – Late Lyme disease occurs months or years after the initial infection. Most common symptoms include neurological (numbness, weakness, pain, paralysis of facial muscles, visual problems, neck and muscle problems and severe headaches) and rheumatological (achy, stiff, or swollen joints) involvement. Some patients may present with Lyme meningitis, Bell’s palsy and dysesthesias. Cognitive problems are common with Late Lyme disease. The key feature of Late Lyme is arthritis which in most cases affects the knee. Radicular pain is common. The neurological and psychiatric symptoms can mimic fibromyalgia. Borrelia encephalomyelitis occurs in rare instances, but can present with ataxia, hemiparesis, seizures, autonomic dysfunction, and hearing loss.
Can Lyme disease trigger autoimmune reactions?
Latest research shows that Lyme disease can trigger multiple autoimmune diseases including Sjorgen’s syndrome, Dermatomyositis, Psoriatic arthritis, Guillain Barre syndrome, Spondyloarthropathies (SpA). Additionally, some patients may develop autoimmune joint diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases, including lupus, polymyalgia rheumatica, thyroid disease, and autoimmune neuropathy.
Lyme can also mimic and autoimmune reaction. When Lyme disease triggers or mimics an autoimmune reaction the patient and often health officials may become very confused in how the treatments should be conducted.
In many cases even after receiving treatment for Lyme disease, some patients may experience post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), or chronic Lyme disease, with continued flu-like symptoms and cognitive problems. Development of PTLDS is believed to be immune-mediated.
What does Dr. Gundry say about Chronic Lyme disease symptoms treatment?
In a recent podcast with Lyme360.com, Dr. Gundry mentioned that he believes we should focus and treat chronic inflammation instead of trying to figure out if the bacteria are still present in the body and if that is causing the problem. Many of Dr. Gundry’s Lyme patients get tested for leaky gut and the findings are astonishing. As Dr. Gundry said, ‘instead of a leak, they’ve got rip roaring wide open causing chronic leaky gut’. In his book The Energy Paradox, Dr. Gundry explains the ways to seal your gut and when his Lyme patients follow the treatments and seal their gut the Lyme disease symptoms get much better. Sometimes it’s really tricky to diagnose why the Lyme symptoms persist for weeks, months and sometimes years. We now know that Lyme can trigger one or more autoimmune diseases and instead of trying to figure out what the real problem is and where the inflammation is coming from, many physicians will prescribe antibiotics as a form of treatment.
Leaky gut occurs when the immune cells along the gut wall become compromised, allowing toxins and bacteria to pass through into the blood stream. It is important to mention that around 80 percent of all your immune cells are concentrated along the lining of your gut. These cells decide what can leave gastrointestinal tract (GI) and what must be contained. If your gut is healthy nothing will get through this barrier that is not suppose to go through, but if the barrier is compromised, dangerous bacteria and toxins will get through and cause myriad of health problems. The leaks can trigger an inflammatory reaction and that can lead to many different autoimmune diseases that can be life altering and in some cases life threatening.
What causes leaky gut?
Every person has a community of bacteria living inside our gut called the microbiome. The microbiome is made up of both “good” and “bad” bacteria. The “good bacteria” have three main jobs: help you digest your food, manufacture important nutrients, and tell your immune system and brain what’s going on inside your gut. Over the past century, people in the industrialized world have begun eating more and more of the wrong foods or highly processed foods. The gut bacteria are having trouble digesting these foods. One particularly harmful food, sugar, acts like fuel for the harmful bacteria living inside of our gut. Dr. Gundry says that foods rich in lectins are also dangerous for our gut. Lectins are a type of plant protein that helps defend plants from getting eaten. These plant proteins can force apart the tight junctions between the cells lining your intestinal walls by attaching themselves to your gut lining. Lectin-containing nightshade plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, eggplants, and even goji berries can actually cause leaky gut– especially in people who already have a weakened immune system or an unbalanced gut microbiome. Leaky gut is also caused by certain medications such as over-the-counter pain medications called NSAIDs (this stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Dr. Gundry says that these medications have power to “blow holes” in your gut wall. Most common NSAIDs include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen.
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