The question of all questions.
This question is what has wrapped the Lyme world in a web of controversy. Lyme sufferers and their loved ones who’ve personally watched the devastation and realness of this disease are, sadly, quite often the only true believers.
Real Explanation of Chronic Lyme Disease (via California Lyme Disease Association)
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, the Lyme spirochetes can spread and may go into hiding in your body. Weeks, months or even years later you may have problems with your brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, heart and circulation, digestion, reproductive system, and skin. Symptoms may disappear even without treatment and different symptoms may appear at different times.
Lyme disease has been found on every continent except Antarctica. It is found all across the United States, with a particularly high incidence in the east, midwest, and west coast. It seems to be spreading.
Not all ticks are infected. Within endemic areas, there is considerable variation locally, depending on type of habitat, presence of wildlife, and other factors. In the south, a Lyme-like disease is called STARI (Southern Rash-Associated Tick Illness).
In addition to the variation that occurs in nature, there is also variation in how aggressively the states have tested ticks for infection. Thus, many times the reported incidence of infected ticks reflects the fact that the state has done little or no testing of ticks in the area. Click here to view maps that show a dramatic increase in the number of states reporting Lyme to the Centers for Disease Control for the years 1985, 1987, and 1992. Some of this increase may be because of disease spread, but it is also likely that it reflects growing public awareness of the disease.
Experts agree that the earlier you are treated, the better; and early treatment is often successful. Unfortunately, more than half of the patients treated with short-term antibiotics continue to have significant symptoms. The quality of life of patients with chronic Lyme disease is similar to that of patients with congestive heart failure. Doctors don’t agree about the cause of these ongoing symptoms. The primary cause of this debate is the lack of a diagnostic test that can determine whether the disease has been eliminated from the body in patients who have persistent symptoms.
The IDSA thinks Lyme symptoms after treatment represent a possibly autoimmune, “post-Lyme syndrome” that is not responsive to antibiotics. ILADS physicians believe that on-going symptoms probably reflect active infection, which should be treated until the symptoms have resolved. These physicians are using the types of treatment approaches employed for persistent infections like tuberculosis, including combination treatment with more than one antibiotic and longer treatment durations.
All medical treatment have risks associated with them. While the safety profile of antibiotics is generally quite good, only you (in consultation with your physician) can determine whether the risks outweigh the potential benefits of any medical treatment.
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