Bacterial infections: Lyme disease and thyroid disease

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease is the most common arthropod-borne disease in the United States.

The bacteria introduced by the tick bite travel through the bloodstream and settle in various tissues and organs.

Over time, it can cause significant symptoms.

The American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF) describes Lyme disease as a “multisystem inflammatory disease that affects the skin in its early, localized phase and spreads to the joints, nervous system, and, to a lesser extent, other body systems.” organs in their late disseminated phase”. stages’.

Lyme disease prevalence

The US CDC states that age, gender, and outdoor exposure are risk factors for those who contract Lyme disease.

The disease is most common in children under the age of 15 and men between the ages of 40 and 60, groups who are more likely to play outside and participate in outdoor activities.

“If you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism but don’t seem to be responding to thyroid hormone replacement therapy, familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.”

Lyme disease symptoms

Within the first month of exposure, the symptoms of Lyme disease can be similar to the onset of influenza and include:

  • fever
  • Shaking chills
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • widespread pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • Joint and muscle pain

However, the most characteristic symptom of Lyme disease is a rash called erythema migrans.

This rash usually has a characteristic bull’s-eye appearance around the tick bite site.

Erythema migrans is estimated to occur in up to 80% of Lyme disease infections and can start as early as three days after a bite or as late as 30 days, but usually occurs within a week.

The rash is usually about 15 centimeters across, but can be up to 20 centimeters across or more.

It appears anywhere on the body and usually lasts three to five weeks.

On dark skin, the rash may resemble a bruise.

In the first weeks and months after the initial tick bite, other symptoms may appear.

These include:

  • severe headaches
  • Neck stiffness
  • More erythema migrans rash at other sites
  • arthritis, joint pain and swelling, often in the knees and other larger joints
  • Muscle pain
  • Paralysis or facial paralysis, with a drooping appearance and/or loss of facial muscle tone
  • Heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat
  • Periodic dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Neuralgia
  • Pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Brain fog and short-term memory problems
  • vision changes
  • continuous fever
  • severe tiredness
  • Months or even years after the initial tick bite, untreated Lyme disease can cause
  • severe headaches
  • Arthritis, with pain and swelling of the joints
  • heart abnormalities
  • Mental disorders, including depression.
  • Cognitive and neurological disorders, such as confusion, short-term memory loss, and severe mental confusion
  • Numbness of the extremities

Diagnosis of the disease

New-onset Lyme disease is usually diagnosed based on symptoms, the presence of erythema migrans, and possible exposure to infected ticks.

In addition, a blood test known as the “two-step” process is recommended.

The US CDC describes this testing process in their guidelines: ‘Recommendations for Performing and Interpreting the Test from the Second National Conference on the Serologic Diagnosis of Lyme Disease’.

Specifically, the two phases include:

  • Stage 1: The ‘EIA’ test (enzyme immunoassay) or, less commonly, the immunofluorescence assay (IFA) is performed.
  • Stage 2 – If the EIA or IFA are positive or inconclusive, the second test that is done is a Western blot test. If the symptoms are new onset (less than 30 days), the IgM Western blot is performed.

If symptoms have been present for more than 30 days, a positive or inconclusive EIA or IFA test is followed by Western Blot IgG testing.

lyme disease treatment

Two basic antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease: amoxicillin and tetracycline.

Usually a course of 10-21 days is prescribed.

In some cases, the antibiotics cefuroxime or doxycycline are used.

In cases of long-term Lyme disease, intravenous (IV) antibiotics are sometimes used, in some cases for a longer period of time.

According to research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), most people recover from Lyme disease after a course of antibiotics.

Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome

In some cases, the symptoms of Lyme disease, such as fatigue, muscle pain, and cognitive problems, persist for more than six months.

This is known as “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome” (PTLDS) or post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PLDS).

It is also sometimes called “persistent Lyme disease” or “chronic Lyme disease.”

Researchers estimate that about 10-20% of patients have PTLDS, with ongoing joint swelling and other Lyme symptoms for months to years after treatment.

Some experts recommend long-term use of antibiotics, including intravenous antibiotic therapy, to help resolve PTLDS.

Lyme disease, autoimmunity and thyroid

The reason why some people develop PTLDS is unknown, but antibiotic resistance and an autoimmune reaction are thought to play a role.

Some experts theorize that Lyme disease infection triggers an autoimmune response, causing increased levels of antibodies that attack the joints.

Some research has also shown that, in the presence of a genetic predisposition to autoimmunity, Lyme disease can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases that attack other tissues, organs, or glands, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

New treatments for Lyme disease and PTLDS are also being investigated, especially in combination with autoimmune thyroid disease.

As part of his advocacy for Lyme disease patients, Dr. Holtorf drew attention to cutting-edge research on disulfiram (Antabuse), a medication typically used to treat people with alcohol abuse problems. .

Disulfiram shows promise as a potential treatment for PTLDS, and more research is underway.

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