Lyme disease is an infectious disease, caused by the borrelia bacteria. This bacterium is spread by ticks, called deer ticks. If an infected tick is attached to the body for 36 hours, it is possible to get an infection. If attached for less than this period, they usually do not cause infections.
Can Lyme Disease Be Completely Cured?
Whether the Lyme disease can be completely cured, it completely depends on the stage the disease has progressed to and the organs that have been affected in the disease. If the disease is diagnosed in its early stage, then complete cure is possible with prompt and adequate treatment. However, in later stages, the treatment becomes difficult due to involvement of other organs.
The diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on the symptoms. However, it is easy to miss the diagnosis, as many symptoms are similar to those of other underlying diseases and can be easily confused. Also, EM may not be present in a few cases, but the disease may still progress to a later stage.
Treatment of Lyme Disease
Antibiotics are the main line of treatment in Lyme disease, as this is a bacterial infection. The specific use of antibiotics depends upon the stage of the disease and varies from person to person. The most widely used antibiotic is doxycycline, as it is not only effective against borrelia bacteria but also covers a wide range of other diseases that are caused by tick bites. Cases where doxycycline is contraindicated, other antibiotics like amoxicillin and azithromycin may be used. In some cases, intravenous medicines like ceftriaxone may have to be used, especially where severe symptoms occur in later stages of infection.
The duration of the Lyme disease treatment also varies according to the stage of the disease and the organs affected. It may take anywhere from one week to 30 days for the treatment to be completed. If the symptoms persist, or recur, re administration of antibiotics, may have to be considered. It is also seen that, even after the completion of the treatment, many cases still have some of the symptoms like joint pain, malaise, muscle aches, etc. lingering over for anywhere between several weeks to months. If this happens, it is known as post-treatment lyme disease syndrome.
Prognosis of Lyme Disease
There is a delay seen in diagnosing the condition many times, due to the diagnosis missed by the physician (as the symptoms may be similar to some other underlying disease as well), or due to the delay in the patient reporting the symptoms to the physician. The late diagnosis makes the disease more complicated. Sometimes, the antibiotics fail to give results. Also, ticks are responsible for a number of infections. If, one of such infections simultaneously co-exists with the Lyme disease, it can make the treatment even more difficult.
Signs And Symptoms of Lyme Disease
The common sign in this disease is a rash, which is circular and which expands outwardly. It has a red center, which is the place of the tick bite. It becomes dark red and indurated over time, whereas the outward rash is red and expands outwardly, clearing the middle of the two. It is called erythema migrans (EM). It looks like a classic target or bull’s eye. Hence, it is also known as a target lesion. This rash is not painful or itchy. Along with this rash, there could be other symptoms present, like fever, headaches, neck stiffness, joint pain and muscle soreness. In severe cases, there may be facial palsy- paralysis of one or both sides of face, meningitis, arrhythmia etc. There might be a loss of memory due to mild encephalitis.
This disease can spread throughout the body through blood and thus can cause serious damage to almost any organ and system of the body. Hence, Lyme disease presents with a wide range of symptoms that are largely due to the affected organs.