Lyme disease (LD) is a seriously complex multi-system inflammatory disease that is triggered by the bacterial lipoproteins produced by the spiral-shaped bacteria called Borrelia. Borrelia are difficult to isolate, grow, and study in the laboratory. So, our technical knowledge of this pathogen is poor, compared to our understanding of most bacteria that cause disease. Borrelia grows extremely slow, so that partially explains its ability to cause chronic disease and the difficulty identifying it in the laboratory.
Transmission of Borrelia occurs PRIMARELY through the bite of ticks. The disease affects every tissue and every major organ system in the body. Clinically, it can appear as a chronic arthalgia (joint pain), fibromyalgia (fibrous connective tissue and muscle pain), chronic fatigue, immune dysfunction and as a neurological disease. LD may even be fatal in severe cases. The disease is widespread and the prevalence is significantly higher than reported by health officials.
Lyme Disease is a very difficult disease to diagnose and treat. Many patients visit numerous doctors being misdiagnosed with anything from MS, Lupus, ALS, and Chronic Fatigue. It is important to remember that there are hundreds of symptoms that are caused by LD and it can mimic 300 other diseases; for this reason, LD is often called, "the great imitator." Other patients, go through expensive and exhausting tests, only to receive negative tests results and left with statements like, "It's all in your head", "Take these antidepressants", "You do NOT have Lyme Disease". It is very unfortunate that most physicians don’t know how to recognize and treat cases of Lyme disease, especially the illusive cases of chronic Lyme disease. I’m not just talking about general MDs being ignorant; I am also referring to specialists such as: rheumatologists, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, cardiologists, psychiatrists, and the most ignorant actually seem to be infectious disease specialists.
The test for Lyme Disease is a test that measure the antibodies that your body has developed as a result of it invading your system. However, the test is only accurate 35% of the time, allowing most physicians to ignore the results and dismiss the seriousness of the patients symptoms. That is why if Lyme Disease is suspected, it is best to visit a LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor). These doctors are experts in their field in diagnosing and treating Lyme Disease patients.
Why this disease is not widely known? Well in the USA it is a fact that Insurances refuse to cover the long-term treatment because of the cost. Meanwhile, thousands of Lyme Disease patients are suffering and are not able to get treatment or having to pay close to $25,000 out of their own pocket to get well. The IDSA set-up a protocol on how to treat Lyme when diagnosed, which has been repeatedly study by Lyme physicians and has shown to be very ineffective, often leaving the Lyme patient seriously ill. However, politics and money have invaded this disease and therefore insurances refuse to pay for treatment. Doctors are afraid to say they treat Lyme disease for fear that insurances won't cover their claims and most physicians just plain refuse to treat long-term out of fear of losing their license. The standard therapy for Lyme disease, which is considered to be a 4-6 week course of antibiotics, is too short for most Lyme cases. A basic treatment for chronic Lyme disease usually requires at least an 8 -16-month period of appropriate antibiotics.
The long-term treatment plan most often consists of drugs to calm the brain and nervous system and to help control pain, high doses of antibiotics (IV or Oral or both) and supplements. Once the treatment program starts, especially the large doses of antibiotics, a Lyme Disease patient will most likely experience a reaction called a Herx as a result of the Lyme bacteria releasing endotoxins. This reaction can cause pain (muscle/joint/bone/nerve), headaches, chills, fever, reduced cognitive function and an increase in overall Lyme symptoms. Although the treatment is difficult, a "Herx-like" reaction is a good sign the medication is working!
Sources: http://lymebites2010.blogspot.com/ and http://www.autoimmunityresearch.org/lyme-disease/