According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the United States with a 25 fold increase in the number of cases since surveillance of the disease began in 1982. World-wide, there are over 300 strains of these bacteria, many of which tolerate antibiotics and are able to evade immune cells.
Tick Borne Infections:
Lyme disease is associated with infected ticks and may be contacted after engaging in outdoor activities. The infected ticks bite through the skin of a person or animal, getting a blood meal and introducing the bacteria into the body. (Typically the tick has to be attached for 36 or more hours before the bacteria is passed to the host.) Symptoms may include: skin rash and painful inflammation of joints (particularly the knees) and be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue and chills.
Diagnostic tests are only 29-40% accurate in the first three weeks after infection. Once the infection spreads to the nervous system and joints, accuracy increases. After treatment, even when test results are “negative”, live organisms may still be found in organs. Early treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications are helpful, but if left untreated, joints, heart, brain, muscles and brain may become involved– sometimes months or years later.
Nervous System Involvement:
About 15 percent of patients with Lyme disease develop nervous system (spine, brain, etc.) inflammation. This event is accompanied by debilitating and painful muscle and joint symptoms and major neurologic changes such as facial nerve palsy, pain radiating along the back into the legs and feet, limb pain, sensory loss and/or muscle weakness.
Inflammation results in injuries to the brain and spinal cord and may result in severe headaches, fatigue, memory loss, learning disability, depression and cognitive problems.
Inflammatory immune factors are increased in the body, recruiting more inflammatory white blood cells into the brain and the spinal cord. The healthy immune cells that protect nerve cells are damaged or destroyed by the inflammation. No longer protected, nerve cells are damaged even more.
A major issue with tick-borne infections is that even after treatment; up to 25% of individuals may have persistent painful joint inflammation and other symptoms lasting months or years.
There are two factors that may account for this:
a) Small numbers of bacteria remain which the immune system has not been able to successfully eliminate.
b)Once the infection is over, traces of long-lasting bacterial proteins are found within and around the joints. These proteins trigger inflammatory responses resulting in significant joint, muscle and nerve pain. It is the body’s immune response to these residual proteins, rather than a lingering infection that results in symptoms.
As always, the key to an active quality of life is to help the body maintain immune balance– its homeostasis. Exercise (suggested: 2.5 hours a week), maintaining a healthy weight, eating smart, going outdoors for a few minutes a day, and taking an excellent immune support product will make all the difference in one’s health.
Achieving immune homeostasis will make a difference in your life. Contact me, DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form or give me a call at 302.265.3870 and let us talk.