Is Lyme Disease Chronic?

Due to its initial asymptomatic nature and the lack of highly sensitive diagnostic techniques, Lyme disease, often enters in the chronic stage. This results in the complexity of the treatment and various complications due to increased severity of the disease. The complication targets the vital organs such as heart and brain.

Is Lyme Disease Chronic?

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria and the infection is progressive in nature. Initially, the patient remains asymptomatic. However, once the infection reaches to a particular limit, the symptoms starting to appear such as rashes and fever. It is important to note that for the first few weeks, no blood test measuring antibodies provides the confirmatory presence of the bacteria in the blood. This sometimes leads to false negative results. The Lyme disease may be acute or chronic. The duration of the disease depends upon various factors, which either in isolation or in combination, decides the duration of infection in the body. The Lyme disease may be either chronic or acute can be decided on the basis of following factors:


Initially the patient, who is infected by the bacteria, does not experiences any symptoms, other than the rashes and redness at the site of tick biting. This delay in symptom presentation helps the bacterial growth and increasing the severity of infection. More severe the infection is, more aggressive the treatment and it continue for longer period making the disease chronic. Thus, delay in presentation of symptoms may make the lyme disease chronic.

Diagnostic Methods

The delay in diagnosis also increases the duration of treatment. Currently the diagnosis is done by identifying the antibodies present in the blood. It is done by ELISA and Western Blot test. There are no identifiable antibodies present in the blood with in few weeks of infection. The disease remained undiagnosed due to false negative results.

Treatment Strategy

If the proper treatment strategy is not adopted by the physician, the patient remains undertreated and there will be an increase in the severity of the disease. Higher the severity of the Lyme disease, higher is the chances of developing it in to chronic disease.

Adherence To Treatment

Even if the physician had adopted a proper treatment strategy, it is responsibility of the patient to adhere to that treatment. If there is no adherence to the treatment on the part of patient, the Lyme disease becomes severe.

Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Symptoms

Even after the infection is completely eradicated, there are the symptoms of post treatment Lyme disease. This is due to the immunogenic action of the body against the non-viable fragments of bacteria.

Relapse Or Re-Infection

According to some researchers, the present treatment strategy is not enough to completely eradicate the bacteria from the body and they are advocating the antibiotic therapy, especially of intravenous drugs, for longer period. However, studies concluded that the present therapy is adequate in managing the Lyme disease and there is actually a re-infection rather than relapse.

Complications Of Lyme Disease

There are various complications of Lyme disease if the disease is not properly managed and the disease become severe. The disease, at this stage, may enter in to chronic phase and the treatment is complex. Following are the complications of Lyme disease:

Carditis: This is an infection in the heart and it may lead to palpitations, ECG changes and heart block.

Neurological Complications: The neurological symptoms of the chronic Lyme disease includes visual disturbances, facial paralysis, meningitis and cognitive defects such as impaired memory.

Chronic Inflammation: The chronic inflammation is also the result of untreated, undertreated and severe Lyme disease.


Lyme disease is caused by the bacterial infection and very often the body takes a little longer in producing measurable quantity of antibodies which delay diagnosis. The other factors which make the disease acute or chronic are treatment strategy, patient adherence to treatment and diagnostic methods. When the disease became chronic, it affects vital organs such as brain and heart.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 19, 2018

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