Lyme disease remains one of the most serious and controversial epidemics today. Approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year. However, data from the standard national surveillance show that around 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the U.S.,1 indicating the disease is considerably underreported. But what exactly is Lyme disease and how can you contract it?
An Overview on Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted by ticks.2 Some studies suggest that the bacteria that cause it can also be spread by other insects like fleas, mosquitoes and mites.3 Lyme disease is called “the great imitator” because it mimics a number of disorders such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic fatigue syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s disease.4,5 It’s also called “the invisible illness,” as infected individuals can appear to be completely healthy even though they are experiencing severe symptoms.6
Lyme disease usually starts with a red, round rash that resemble a bull’s-eye. It then progresses with symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headaches and joint and muscle pain. It can then progress to muscle spasms, loss of motor coordination, intermittent paralysis, meningitis and even heart problems.7 The disease typically causes vague, dispersed pain, which is the reason it is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia even by experienced doctors.8
The best strategy against Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks and other insects. The CDC recommends checking your whole body carefully after going to a tick-infested area and taking a shower immediately after being outdoors, to wash off and easily find ticks or tick bites.9
Controversies Surrounding Chronic Lyme Disease
Many physicians now acknowledge that Lyme disease is real, but there is still controversy about whether it can become a chronic condition.10 Members of the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) do not believe in chronic Lyme and generally will not treat a patient longer than the usual duration of treatment, which is four to six weeks. On the other hand, members of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) believe that Lyme disease can persist and are willing to treat patients for a longer duration.11
According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, long-term antibiotic treatment is not beneficial for individuals with ongoing symptoms of Lyme disease, as it does not result in a positive prognosis and only increases the risks for complications such as biliary disease.12,13 It can also significantly decrease the beneficial bacteria in the gut and impair your natural immune function. To help manage this condition without complications, opt for safer holistic methods.
These Pages Will Help You Better Understand Lyme Disease
Take immediate action if you suspect that you, someone you know or your pet is infected with Lyme disease. Read these pages to learn more about Lyme disease, including its causes, stages, symptoms and treatment options. Learning crucial information about this potentially debilitating condition is an important step to helping lower your risk.
The critically acclaimed documentary, “Under Our Skin,” is a good reference for raising awareness on Lyme disease. Screened to millions of people worldwide, this documentary brings to light the shocking reality of Lyme disease and how the corrupt healthcare system has left many people undiagnosed and untreated.
Its highly anticipated sequel, “Under Our Skin 2: Emergence,” further investigates the Lyme disease epidemic as it sweeps across the globe, and brings to focus the new findings that may help patients recover and have a better quality of life.