What is Lyme Disease?
Please read: Lyme disease patients in Australia, including those with a suspected Lyme or other tick-borne infection, should be aware that the Australian Government’s perspective and guidelines on Lyme differ from those of the Lyme Disease Association of Australia (LDAA), and other governments and authorities internationally.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease, often referred to as Lyme borreliosis, is a tick-borne infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
In the initial stages of Lyme disease, symptoms can encompass a rash, joint discomfort, and headaches, among other manifestations. Late-stage or Chronic Lyme disease is marked by persistent arthritic pain, cognitive impairments, fatigue, and various incapacitating symptoms. Whether it's early or late-stage, Lyme disease profoundly impacts a patient's quality of life.
For those who receive prompt treatment, some may not experience ongoing symptoms. However, Lyme disease often progresses to a chronic state, which is a multi-systemic ailment that severely affects the immune system and physical well-being. It can afflict virtually every tissue and organ within the body.
Lyme disease remains a poorly understood and intricate condition, and in some circles, it is regarded as controversial, despite a substantial body of published research indicating otherwise.
Symptoms of Lyme
The below has been taken from https://lymedisease.org.au/lyme-disease/lyme-disease-the-basics/
The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) lists the following common Lyme disease symptoms and signs.
Common symptoms of early Lyme disease (and some co-infections) include:
- Erythema Migrans rash (EM) or other kind of rash
- Fatigue, malaise
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, arthralgias (joint pain), myalgias (muscle aches)
- Stiff neck
- Dysesthesia (painful burning, prickling, or aching feeling)
- Lymphadenopathy (lymph nodes abnormal in size or consistency)
- Facial nerve dysfunction leading to weakness or paralysis of facial muscles (often mislabeled as Bell’s palsy).
Either a solid, spreading rash, resembling a bacterial infection/cellulitis or spider bite, or a bullseye rash is present in approximately 50 percent of those with Lyme disease. Sometimes there is no rash at all.
LEFT: The bullseye rash, Erythema Migrans (EM) is a “classic” sign of Lyme but only occurs in 20-25 percent of patients. (Dr Richard Horowitz)
Common symptoms of late stage or chronic Lyme include:
- Multiple red rashes
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Joint swelling and/or pain
- Neuropathic symptoms – nerve pain, numbness, hot/cold sensations, tingling
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Memory impairment
- Unprovoked pain which may interfere with sleep
- Palpitations or chest pain, shortness of breath
- Light-headedness, fainting
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Psychiatric symptoms- including depression, anxiety, and mood changes.
Lyme disease patients almost always have co-infections and other pathogens besides Borrelia and may experience the reactivation of latent viruses (e.g. Epstein Barr virus) and will commonly have parasitic and fungal infections as well. Rickettsia, Bartonella and Babesia are common tick-borne co-infections.
The overall ‘symptom complex’ may include: immune dysfunction; inflammation; environmental toxicity; allergies; nutritional and enzyme deficiencies, with functional medicine abnormalities in biochemical pathways; mitochondrial dysfunction; neuropsychological issues, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, endocrine abnormalities, sleep disorders; gastrointestinal abnormalities, with abnormal liver functions; and issues with pain, drug use and physical deconditioning.Dr Richard Horowitz
This controversy of Lyme disease has had a significant impact on patients who experience Lyme-like symptoms in Australia. Many report struggling to obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment, often resorting to seeking medical care overseas. It has also fuelled a call for further research to better understand the nature of tick-borne illnesses in Australia and to clarify the existence of Lyme disease or Lyme-like conditions in the country. In the absence of a consensus, the debate around Lyme disease in Australia underscores the importance of ongoing research, collaboration between various stakeholders, and the need for better diagnostic tools and treatment options for tick-borne illnesses.
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