Re-posted using three posts from Living the Lyme Life (with permission from author)
They are small. Some are small as the size of the period at the end of this sentence. However, ticks carry big diseases. Some that you may have heard of are Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Not only are there other diseases, but each disease has multiple strains making it difficult to diagnose and to treat. There are several diagnostic tests for tick borne illnesses, but those tests only test for a few of the strains of each illness causing many false negatives. The best lab in the United States to test for Tick Borne Illness is IgeneX in Palo Alto California, but even they don’t test for all the strains of the bacteria. There are several new labs that are making great strides in the advancement of testing for Lyme.
Lyme Disease is a spiral bacteria. It bores itself into your cells and hides. It will travel in your tissue and hides itself in healthy cells because of the corkscrew shape. Therefore your own immune system doesn’t start to fight it. Your body doesn’t even realize that there is bacteria there. The bacteria also can change form when in a “hostile” environment (antibiotics) and can form into cysts which are safe from most antibiotics.
Lyme Disease reacts differently in each person and there can be a multitude of symptoms. Some people infected with the Lyme bacteria have over 75 symptoms. Most people associate joint pain with Lyme Disease; however, not everyone has joint pain. Also another marker of the disease is a bulls eye rash near the site of the tick bite. Again, most people do not get the bulls eye rash or it is in an area where it can not be detected (think about the scalp under your hair). Because the bacterium multiplies so quickly, when the bacterium is killed it creates toxins which often times make the patient feel worse on antibiotics. This is called the herxheimer reaction.
There are two types of physicians that treat Lyme Disease. It is a very controversial illness and the two types of physicians believe different things. One particular group of doctors believes that long term antibiotics is not the answer (I.D.S.A). That if you are on antibiotics for more than a month and still have symptoms that you have Post Lyme Syndrome. The other group of doctors believe that if you have symptoms of Lyme Disease (or any of the other tick borne illnesses) that you still have Lyme (I.L.A.D.S). Most Chronic Lyme patients side on the group of doctors that believe in long term antibiotics.
The reason Lyme Disease is so difficult to diagnose is that it causes multi-system symptoms. If you don’t know you’ve been bitten by a tick, it is even more difficult to get a diagnosis. You may ask how can you not know you’ve been bitten by a tick. Wouldn’t you know right away? Not necessarily. First thing is that ticks inject their saliva into your blood stream when they bite and their saliva is numbing. If you are extremely sensitive, you might feel them crawling on you and you might feel the bite. Once they attach, they feed on your blood until they are full. Then, they back out and you never know they were there. Also if they crawl up into your scalp, you may not ever see the tick. You might have an itchy spot, but you just figure you’ve got itchy skin.
Lyme Disease can cause flu-like symptoms, joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, rashes, muscle twitches, sore throat, sensitivity to lights, seizures, ringing in the ears, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, sweating, heart pain, poor balance, dizziness, mood swings, sleep deprivation, over sleeping, memory loss, speech difficulty, reproduction & sexual dysfunction, low body temperature, continued infections, increased allergies, and many many more.
Be sure to see some of the links above on NC Lyme Advocacy website which you might find helpful about Lyme Disease and co-infections.