Chronic Lyme Disease

Chronic or late disseminated Lyme disease is the third stage of this multi-system, multi-stage illness. Various factors may contribute to chronic Lyme disease. Not all people infected with the Lyme bacteria develop the same symptoms, and a correct diagnosis is difficult. Chronic Lyme disease can occur when people have not been properly diagnosed or treated, or if they have received inadequate treatment. If all of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease are not killed off, the illness can move into a chronic stage, resulting in many other conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, poor concentration skills and more.

Patients who are diagnosed immediately after getting infected seem to have the best chance of quick and complete recovery when they begin antibiotic treatment immediately. Yet Lyme disease, which has been nicknamed the Great Imitator, can mimic the symptoms of at least a hundred other medical conditions. Unsuspecting patients and their physicians simply may not know which tests to administer in the face of so many possibilities. Lyme disease is so often misdiagnosed that if and when the patient does eventually receive a correct diagnosis, their condition may have already become chronic.

According to some medical experts, if the Lyme disease patient does not receive antibiotics for a long enough period of time, the symptoms may become chronic. Misdiagnoses can contribute to chronic Lyme disease when doctors subscribe medications for diseases or conditions they believe their patients have, but in fact they do not. This can have disastrous results. For example, the use of corticosteroids will replicate the spirochetes (bacteria) that cause Lyme disease. Therefore, steroids are to be avoided where Lyme disease is suspected, and they are contraindicated. Some Lyme-literate doctors believe that steroid use while Lyme bacteria are present will cause chronic Lyme disease. But, ignorant of the possibility of Lyme bacteria, Lyme-illiterate MDs have mistakenly prescribed steroids to control inflammation, with calamitous results for their patients.

Many people who have been labeled with another chronic disease such as Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s and others, may indeed have a condition that could be effectively treated with antibiotics. Lyme bacteria may be the underlying cause of their current condition, or at least a contributor. Many MDs are Lyme-illiterate. This is unfortunate considering the alarming rise in the number of proven Lyme disease diagnoses. Incurious doctors may simply never suspect infection and therefore, never administer a test for Lyme disease or one of the many co-infections with which it is frequently associated. They may go on wrongly treating a misdiagnosed patient for years. The patient, for their part, may continue being sick with chronic Lyme disease, never understanding why the medicines they consume aren’t making them any better.

Rampant misdiagnoses, unreliable tests and contentiousness between medical experts regarding the correct treatment of Lyme disease has created a milieu wherein patients are typically aware that they must advocate for their own healing path. But how can Lyme disease patients advocate the best treatment for themselves if they remain ignorant of the underlying cause of their illness? And why are many medical experts ignorant of, and uninformed about, this rapidly spreading disease?

Medical insurance constraints on long-term treatment of chronic Lyme disease contribute to the problem. Many clinics, doctors and hospitals are heavily lobbied by wealthy insurance companies who refuse to acknowledge the evidence put forth by Lyme-literate experts that long-term care is necessary for treating chronic Lyme successfully. Many MDs simply adhere to the stringent protocol of this damaging disease posited by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Typical CDC protocol followed by many uninformed, Lyme-illiterate MDs calls for the administration of a 30 day course of antibiotics, and assumes that the bacteria will be killed off and the patient recovered by the end of the course. In some cases this is probably sufficient. But given the extremely complicated nature of a correct diagnosis, the varied symptoms of Lyme disease patients, and the confusion of MDs over how best to treat Lyme, it’s little wonder that in most cases, 30 days of antibiotic treatment does not cure the patient. In fact, according to one line of Lyme expert thought, this course of treatment is to blame for the disease moving into a chronic stage.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 Copyright © 2005 Suzanne Arthur. All rights reserved.

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