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Lyme Disease and Co-Infections

Lyme Disease Q&A with Dr. Meghan Haggarty and Dr. Jennifer Nardella

The Nardella Clinic has been diagnosing and treating Lyme Disease for nearly a decade. Over that time, our Naturopaths Drs. Jennifer Nardella and Meghan Haggarty have developed an effective integrative and naturopathic approach for the treatment of Lyme Disease. With the arrival of Spring and Summer, The Nardella Clinic sees an increase in Lyme Disease questions, testing and treatment for patients in and around Calgary. In this article, Naturopaths Dr. Meghan Haggarty and Jennifer Nardella answer common questions about Lyme Disease.

Let’s start by explaining what is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a particularly nasty bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacteria that causes the condition called Lyme Disease. The bacteria is transferred to humans through the bite of infected ticks. Ticks are ubiquitous in North America. Initially, Lyme Disease may cause fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migraines. If untreated Lyme Disease can be life changing and spread to the joints, heart and nervous system.

Q: Is Lyme Disease curable?

A: In its early stages Lyme disease can be cured. Patients who develop a bulls-eye rash or have a known tick attachment should seek the help of a Lyme literate doctor for early treatment. It is important if you still have the tick to get it tested by a lab that tests for Lyme Disease and co-infections. to know what infections the tick could have possibly transmitted to you.

Late stage or chronic Lyme disease requires extensive treatment and treatment may focus on managing the disease or getting the patients infection into remission.

Q: How serious is Lyme Disease?

A: Lyme Disease can cause severe symptoms. Not only does it affect joints and muscles, it can also attack the immune system, nervous system or heart. Patients with chronic Lyme disease may be sick for years before proper diagnosis and treatment. Tick-borne infections that are left untreated have also been associated with increased risks of certain cancers, such as leukemia.

Q: How long can a person live with Lyme Disease?

A: Many people can live for a long time with Lyme Disease, but the symptoms of a chronic infection can be life-altering and debilitating. Lyme Disease can cause extreme pain, affect mood, decrease energy and even causes symptoms that mimic neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis.

Q: Can you transmit Lyme Disease?

A: Lyme Disease is known to be transferred from ticks to human, but also can be transmitted via blood and blood transfusions. Research is currently investigating the potential for sexual transmission of Lyme Disease. Although sexual transmission has not yet been proven, research shows that vaginal and seminal samples carry the Lyme disease bacteria.

Q: What are Lyme Disease co-infections?

A: Co-infections is the term used to describe infections carried by ticks other than Borrelia Burgdorferi. Co-infections infections include: Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Borrelia miyamotoi. Patients with Lyme Disease also suffer from more frequent opportunistic infections due to a weakened immune response. These infections include Epstein Barr, HHV-6, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, C. pneumoniae, and cytomegalovirus.

Q: How soon after being bitten by a tick do symptoms appear?

A: For some patients symptoms may appear anytime from 3 days up to 30 days after a tick-bite. Early on patients may develop a bulls-eye rash (although many patients will not develop this rash) or flu-like symptoms. With progression of symptoms patients may experience joint and muscle pain, cardiac symptoms, fatigue, mood changes and numbness/tingling.

Many Chronic Lyme Disease patients may even have their symptoms go into remission, and then years after the tick-bite develop an onset or relapse of symptoms. Periods of high stress, other infections and changes in hormones can be triggers for symptom relapse.

Q: How do you get tested for Lyme Disease?

A: There are a variety of tests for Lyme Disease that may be necessary depending on how long the patient has been ill. It is of the utmost importance when testing for Lyme disease to also test for co-infections. A complete understanding of exactly what infections are impacting the immune system is necessary to develop an effective treatment protocol.

Examples of testing that may be used to detect Lyme Disease and co-infections include:

  • Elisa
  • Western Blot
  • Elispot/T-cell testing
  • PCR

Preventing Lyme Disease

Our naturopathic doctors recommend taking precautions to prevent Lyme Disease. Use insect repellent and remove ticks promptly and properly if bitten. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can also transmit other tickborne diseases as well such as Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, or Powassan virus. It is important to keep the tick and have it tested by a lab that tests for not only Lyme Disease but all the co-infections. Don’t be afraid to enjoy our beautiful outdoors, just be prepared. And remember The Nardella Clinic is here in the event your need our help.

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