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Understanding Lyme Disease: Stages, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Updated: Feb 2

Lyme disease poses a diagnostic challenge that can lead physicians astray. This complex illness often gets mistaken for other conditions, leaving patients without the proper diagnosis and treatment. To avoid misdiagnosis, doctors must maintain a high index of suspicion and look for the telltale symptoms of Lyme, especially in endemic areas. A delayed or missed diagnosis can allow this formidable illness to progress, potentially causing chronic symptoms that profoundly impact one's quality of life. Though Lyme mimics many maladies, an astute physician can unravel the mystery and pave the way to restoring health.


Green background with a white daisy and a small tick on one of the white petals.

STAGES OF LYME DISEASE

There are three (3) stages of Lyme disease:

  • Stage 1 is called early localized Lyme disease, also called acute Lyme disease. The bacteria has not yet spread throughout the body.

  • Stage 2 is called early disseminated Lyme disease. The bacteria has begun to spread throughout the body.

  • Stage 3 is called late disseminated Lyme disease, also called chronic Lyme disease. The bacteria has spread to distant sites such as the joints and nerves.


SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of Lyme disease can vary widely and can mimic many other medical conditions, which is the cause for delayed and misdiagnosis of both Lyme disease and co-infections. Symptoms can include a rash (erythema migrans or EM) at the site of the tick bite, flu-like symptoms, arthritis and joint pain, neurologic symptoms, and heart symptoms, just to name a few. In a small percentage of people, infection causes few or no symptoms. The symptoms of Lyme disease are caused by the body's immune response to the bacteria and the inflammation that results.


Stage 1, early localized Lyme disease can cause symptoms such as:

  • Erythema Migrans, skin rash, which may or may not look like a bull’s eye

  • flu-like illness, including chills and fever

  • fatigue

  • headaches

  • stiff neck

  • muscle soreness and joint pain

  • swollen lymph nodes

  • sore throat

However, these symptoms alone (without the presence of EM) are often times not enough to diagnose Lyme disease. Symptoms with early localized Lyme Disease may begin hours, a few days or even weeks after infected.


Stage 2, early disseminate Lyme disease can cause symptoms such as:

  • chills

  • fever

  • headaches

  • fatigue

  • pain, weakness or numbness in the arms and legs

  • vision changes

  • Lyme carditis, heart problems, such as palpitations, chest pain

  • rash may appear on body

  • facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy)

Early disseminated Lyme may occur several weeks or months after infected.


Stage 3, late disseminated Lyme disease can cause symptoms such as:

  • arthritis in large joints or near the point of infection

  • severe headaches

  • migraines

  • vertigo

  • dizziness

  • migrating pains that come and go in joints and tendons

  • stiff, aching neck

  • chronic fatigue syndrome

  • sleep disturbances

  • insomnia

  • disturbances in heart rhythm

  • mental fogginess, concentration issues

  • numbness in the arms, legs, hands or feet

  • problems following conversations and processing information

  • severe fatigue

If Lyme disease isn’t promptly and effectively treated in the first two stages, late disseminated or chronic Lyme disease occurs weeks, months or even years after being infected. At this time, the bacterial infection has spread throughout the body and nervous system, and many patients develop chronic Lyme arthritis as well as an increase in neurological and cardiac symptoms.


*This is a short list of the most common symptoms reported from Lyme diesase infections, there are other symptoms experinced by those suffering from Lyme disease in each of these stages.


Facts and details about some of the more common symptoms of Lyme Disease:


  • Cardiac symptoms: Inflammation of the heart occurs in approximately 8 percent or less of adults with untreated Lyme disease (source). This inflammation can cause a condition called atrioventricular block or heart block. Symptoms of heart block are: a slower than normal heart rate, lightheadedness and fainting; but some have no symptoms at all. Lyme disease may also cause inflammation of the heart muscle and the tissue covering the heart (myopericarditis), but these are reported as more rare symptoms and can be mild when they do occur. Reports show that approximately 10% of those in the US with untreated Lyme disease suffer from myoperidcariditis and prevalence of asymptomatic carditis to be as high as 30% (source). Although fatalities from Lyme disease are reported to be rare, when they occur, they are thought to result from cardiac involvement.


  • Neurologic symptoms: Neurologic symptoms can result from inflammation of several areas of the nervous system, including:

    • The meninges (the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord); inflammation of the meninges is called meningitis, which causes headache and a stiff neck.

    • The nerve roots and nerves (especially the nerves that control facial movement), causing weakness, pain, or strange sensations, such as numbness.

Approximately 10%–15% of patients with untreated Lyme disease will develop neurologic manifestations (source1 source2).


  • Muscle and joint symptoms: These symptoms are the most common symptoms of late Lyme disease reportedly occurring in about 80 percent of individuals with untreated Lyme disease.

    • Joint pain occurs in 20 percent of individuals.

    • Intermittent episodes of arthritis (joint inflammation) in 50 percent of individuals.

    • Persistent arthritis of a single joint or a few joints in 10 percent individuals.

*These statistics are reported in untreated individuals.


  • Neurologic symptoms: Stage 3, late Disseminated Lyme Disease can cause a variety of neurologic symptoms including:

    • Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet

    • Confusion

    • Memory problems

    • Difficulty concentrating

    • Headaches

  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia develops in some people after treatment for Lyme disease. Fibromyalgia is characterized by a specific pattern of muscle and joint pain.


TICK BITES

Some of the most common areas of the body for a tick bite are: the armpit, the groin, behind the knees, or around the belt line area. Children are often bitten on the neck or scalp, these two areas are rare for bites in adults. The erythema migrans (EM) may be itchy or cause a burning sensation. The EM typically expands outward over several days and can be as large as 8 inches (sometimes larger) in diameter. Some people have a single lesion (at the site of the tick bite), while others have multiple lesions. The multiple lesions are caused by the spread of the bacteria in the bloodstream rather than by multiple bites.


DIAGNOSIS

The early symptoms of Lyme disease don't often clearly point to one particular disease but are broad enough to be any of several medical conditions.


Not everyone gets the erythema migrans rash. Many Lyme disease symptoms point to more than one cause. With aches, pains, and fever as the first signs of Lyme disease for many, which could all be caused by a different type of infection, like the flu, for example.


Testing for Lyme disease is often unreliable when using standard laboratory tests, frequently resulting in false negatives. Lyme disease is challenging to diagnose, and patients often go months or even years while seeking multiple medical opinions before obtaining an accurate diagnosis. This complex illness is best diagnosed clinically through a thorough evaluation of symptoms and medical history, rather than relying solely on laboratory results. A knowledgeable Lyme specialist can provide the nuanced clinical assessment required to properly diagnose this elusive disease.


TREATMENT

Stage 1, early localized Lyme disease - in this stage, the bacteria has spread through the bloodstream to other areas of the body, triggering inflammation in one's tissues. Early localized Lyme disease occurs within days to weeks after the tick bite. Effective treatment at this stage helps to prevent later symptoms and medical complications.


When Lyme disease progresses to stage 3, it becomes a complex condition requiring nuanced care. At this late disseminated phase, the bacteria have spread throughout the body over a prolonged period, from weeks to months, or even years. Now chronic in nature, Lyme presents new treatment challenges. With the disease so widespread in the system, a personalized plan tailored to the individual often proves most effective. For those whose earlier treatment failed or who went undiagnosed initially, curbing the advanced infection calls for a multifaceted approach. At this point, simple or standardized protocols may fall short. By understanding chronic Lyme's intricacies and matching treatment to the patient's needs, providers can offer hope against an elusive foe.


Those living with chronic Lyme disease face an uphill battle. They must fight for care and understanding even as their health declines, while the medical establishment largely dismisses their pleas. It is a lonely, frustrating journey. Patients report feeling ignored and misunderstood as their symptoms compound and their strength wanes. They are left to navigate a complex illness without the support and compassion they need. A more empathetic, patient-centered approach is required to help those suffering from this challenging condition, so they may obtain the treatment and relief they deserve.


Many patients find themselves in a difficult position as their illness progresses. Despite investing significant time and finances into treatment, their health declines. Out of desperation, they turn to social media support groups for free advice, willing to try almost anything that has worked for others. While well-intentioned, this informal guidance often lacks medical oversight, leaving already vulnerable patients at further risk. As the formal healthcare system fails to meet their needs, these individuals are left to fend for themselves, relying on unregulated remedies that could potentially endanger their health. This predicament calls for greater compassion and support for those battling chronic conditions, so they need not depend on unverified internet cures out of a lack of alternatives.


While a one-size-fits-all treatment for Lyme disease does not yet exist, there is hope. Those battling this complex illness need an experienced practitioner who will thoroughly assess their unique symptoms and goals, then craft a personalized protocol to help them on their path to wellness. With compassionate listening and clinical expertise, a Lyme-literate healthcare provider can target treatments to each patient's needs, bringing relief where cookie-cutter solutions fall short. Though the journey is often long and difficult, skilled guidance based on the nuances of each case offers the best chance for recovery.


As a healthcare provider dedicated to helping support your healing journey with Lyme disease, I will develop an individualized approach to your treatment that can put you on the path to healing. At the core of my protocol is the time-tested Biocidin line. But Biocidin alone is not enough. My integrative method combines these potent biofilm busters with customized support strategies to address your unique needs. This protocol will complement your treatment working with a Lyme literate physician. I'll help you implement tailored detoxification, nutrition, and lifestyle adjustments to create an internal environment inhospitable to Lyme and supportive of your recovery. With compassionate, attentive care, we'll partner to restore your health, energy, and quality of life. I'm committed to this collaborative process and guiding you to a place of hope and healing. Read on to learn more.

 

How Biocidin treatment works for chronic Lyme disease:

1. It boosts the immune system and improves the function of cells that fight infections.

2. It limits quorum sensing, which are what causes biofilms to form and become stronger.

3. It stops biofilms from sticking to surfaces.

4. It limits germ swarming motility, which is where some bacteria grow tails to swim and rapidly spread.

5. It blocks efflux pumps, that remove treatment products from the cells.

6. It stops germ growth, limiting the ability of Lyme to grow.

7. It kills germs directly, as it is a natural antimicrobial (and bactericidal).


When it comes to tick-borne illnesses, we need to address the biofilms for the best outcome. Biofilms are communities of bacteria embedded in an extracellular matrix, making them resistant to eradication. They are responsible for most chronic and recurrent infections and contribute to toxic load and inflammatory burden. Biofilms are a survival mechanisms used to outmaneuver antimicrobials and antibiotics. Addressing biofilms is often overlooked in clinical management of Lyme Disease and co-infections. *While antibiotics can shrink biofilms, they are not biofilm busters.

 

Research shows that by 3 month’s time of traditional treatment that 30 percent of people have improvement. Those people have an easier chance of overall recovery. For those that haven’t had significant changes by the 3-month mark, then Biocidin is a great choice, because it helps remove biofilms and decreases antibiotic resistance by blocking efflux pumps that remove antibiotics from germs.


My 10 step protocol takes a holistic approach to help support your healing journey. This comprehensive process addresses nine key areas: sleep, diet, immune regulation, detoxification, and more. My goal is to guide you through this process as smoothly as possible by minimizing inflammatory flares and maximizing your body's natural healing mechanisms (reducing or eliminating herxing). Together we'll develop a customized plan to restore your health and vitality. I'm committed to partnering with you every step of the way, equipping you with the tools and knowledge you need to thrive.


Working with a trained healthcare provider is the ideal way to get the most out of the Biocidin protocol. I have gone through specialized training to guide patients through this protocol safely and effectively. However, I understand the importance of the protocol still being accessible for those who wish to pursue it independently. The Lyme-specific products can be ordered by the general public via this link (click HERE). Use the free shipping code: PD-F-MCNA. While Biocidin Botanicals recommends professional guidance, I aim to provide helpful resources for all clients. Please reach out with any questions (click HERE)! I am happy to offer my expertise so you can determine the best path forward. To schedule a Lyme series click here to fill out the health informational form, once submitted I will contact you to schedule your first appointment.


SOURCES

Please note that sources cited are used to share statistics researched by various labs, physicians, and government agencies. As a professional healthcare provider with experience in this field I am aware that these statistics are often times misleading due to the fact that many cases of Lyme disease go unreported. Lyme disease is grossly underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed (source). When it comes to Lyme disease finding accurate percentages and facts is hard to find and many sources that are usually trustworthy are unreliable when it comes to Lyme disease.


Consult with our expert nutritionist to get on the path to better health. Fill out a brief health questionnaire and we'll schedule a personalized consultation to address your wellness goals.

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