Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease spread through a tick bite.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi). Certain ticks carry these bacteria. The ticks pick up the bacteria when they bite mice or deer that are infected with Lyme disease. You can get the disease if you are bitten by an infected tick.
Lyme disease was first reported in the United States in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975. Cases have now been reported in most parts of the United States. Most of the cases occur in the Northeast, some parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the mid-Atlantic states, and along the Pacific coast. Lyme disease is usually seen during the late spring, summer, and early fall.
There are 3 stages of Lyme disease.
- Stage 1 is called primary Lyme disease.
- Stage 2 is called secondary Lyme disease and early disseminated Lyme disease.
- Stage 3 is called tertiary Lyme disease and chronic persistant Lyme disease.
Risk factors for Lyme disease include:
- Doing activities that increase tick exposure (for example, gardening, hunting, or hiking)
- Having a pet that may carry ticks home
- Walking in high grasses
Not everyone infected with these bacteria gets ill. If a person does become ill, the first symptoms resemble the flu and include:
- Muscle pain
There may be a “bulls eye” rash, a flat or slightly raised red spot at the site of the tick bite. Often there is a clear area in the center. It can be larger than 1 – 3 inches wide.
Symptoms in people with the later stages of the disease include:
- Body-wide itching
- Joint inflammation
- Stiff neck
- Unusual or strange behavior
Note: Deer ticks can be so small that they are almost impossible to see. Many people with Lyme disease never even saw a tick.
A blood test can be done to check for antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The most commonly used is the ELISA for Lyme disease test. A western blot test is done to confirm ELISA results.
A physical exam may show joint, heart, or brain problems in people with advanced Lyme disease.
Everyone who has been bitten by a tick should be watched closely for at least 30 days.
Most people who are bitten by a tick do NOT get Lyme disease.
A single dose of antibiotics may be offered to someone soon after being bitten by a tick, if all of the following are true:
- The person has a tick that can carry Lyme disease attached to their body. This usually means that a nurse or physician has looked at and identified the tick.
- The tick is thought to have been attached to the person for at least 36 hours.
- The person can begin taking the antibiotics within 72 hours of removing the tick.
- The person is over 8 years old and is not pregnant or breastfeeding.
A full course of antibiotics is used to treat people who are proven to have Lyme disease. The specific antibiotic used depends on the stage of the disease and the symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, are sometimes prescribed to relieve joint stiffness.
If diagnosed in the early stages, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. Without treatment, complications involving the joints, heart, and nervous system can occur.
Rarely, a person will continue having symptoms that can interfere with daily life. Some people call this post-Lyme disease syndrome. There is no effective treatment yet for this syndrome.
Advanced stages of Lyme disease can cause long-term joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis) and heart rhythm problems. Nervous system (neurological) problems are also possible, and may include:
- Decreased concentration
- Memory disorders
- Nerve damage
- Paralysis of the face muscles
- Sleep disorders
- Vision problems
Ticks that carry Lyme disease are so small that they are very hard to see. After returning home, remove your clothes and thoroughly inspect all skin surface areas, including your scalp.
When walking or hiking in wooded or grassy areas:
- Spray all exposed skin and your clothing with insect repellant (spray outdoors only, do not use on face, use just enough to cover all other exposed skin, don’t spray under clothing, don’t apply over wounds or irritated skin, wash skin after going inside)
- Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants with the cuffs tucked into shoes or socks
- Wear high boots, preferably rubber
Post Lyme Disease Syndrome
In some patients, Lyme disease can be fairly easy to treat while in others, it can feel like a never-ending battle. Chronic Lyme disease, which is surrounded by much controversy, is a systemic, debilitating condition which persists despite antibiotic therapy. The seriousness of this condition and its resistance to treatment necessitates an individualized treatment plan not based on arbitrary insurance guidelines.
Chronic Lyme disease is also unique in that it is widely misunderstood and surrounded by controversy, leading to problems with physicians, friends and family, insurance companies, disability coverage, etc. The devastating symptoms and the myriad of secondary issues Lyme disease patients face often combine to leave the patient feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.
There is no established cure for chronic Lyme disease. The response to treatment varies greatly from patient to patient. Many patients find they need to stay on antibiotics long-term (ie. years). Patients may also need antibiotic combos, coinfection treatments, symptomatic medications, and natural therapies. With these treatments some patients experience full recovery. Those who don’t are left to continue the search for treatment options.
Medical Marijuana can be very helpful in relieving many of the symptoms of Post Lyme Disease Syndrome.
“This is a serious matter, resulting in so much pain that you may end up in a wheel chair or even bed stricken for days at a time. I t takes away the enjoyable aspects of life and can make you’re everyday routine miserable. We all know suffering from intense pain is no laughing matter, and being nauseous constantly is a burden within it’s self. This is what this disease places in you’re body, sucking precious time from your life, you’re mind as well.”
” Chronic Lyme Disease with people suffering constantly, not in spurts. Many people with Lyme disease may not think cannabis could be one of the more affective long-term medicines to help alleviate symptoms. Cannabis is a safer, more soothing medication that can eliminate pain in all forms. Medically, cannabis can be used for many reasons. It fights the aches in your joints and pain throughout your whole body. The more potent the strain brings on the more potent medication. This could be the answer to questions about cannabis being an alternative medicine with the people suffering from “Lyme Disease” who are looking for other, more natural methods of healing. Cannabis can provide the energy needed to make it through the rough days when your symptoms are high. During the evening it can make lying down and falling asleep a delightful occasion, instead of a frustrating restless one. After a great night sleep, you could wake up feeling refreshed instead of sore and tired. In the morning cannabis is an incredible way to help loosen your joints and stiffness from previous nights tossing and turning. The unfortunate early sunrises when you woke up sick and tired could truly be a thing of the past. Ingesting cannabis will make your appetite stronger, bringing some much needed nutrition. Walking instead of limping, around the house brings back pleasant mornings. Also for the non-smokers you could have a tasty, potent and original edible medication of your choice.”
“Stiffness down your neck, back, legs and joints can make you feel helpless, tired and irritable. Lyme disease can come and go, but for some it wont let up. In most severe cases, this is classified as ” Chronic Lyme Disease” with people suffering constantly, not in spurts. Many people with Lyme disease may not think cannabis could be one of the more affective long-term medicines to help alleviate symptoms. Cannabis is a safer, more soothing medication that can eliminate pain in all forms. Medically, cannabis can be used for many reasons. It fights the aches in your joints.”
- Cannabis is more effective than aspirin as an anti-inflammatory
- Cannabis is effective as a chronic pain treatment
- Cannabis is an effective pain treatment
- Cannabis is an effective muscle relaxant
- Cannabis extract salve, lotion or creme is a very effective joint pain reliever.
Best Strains: chronic pain:Great White Shark and Sensi-Star other symptoms: Lavender, Pineapple, Apollo 11, Belladonna, Jack’s Haze, Pineapple Kush, Platinum OG, Sage and Sour, Cheese, Choc. Bananaa, Grapefruit