Lyme disease – Common Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
Lyme disease is a common infection in the United States and Canada.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this tick-borne infection is responsible for more than 300,000 human deaths every year.
In this article, we will cover the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for Lyme disease.
Causes of Lyme disease
Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, which is a bacterium that gets transmitted by ticks.
The tick becomes infected with Borrelia burgdorferi after feeding on deer, birds, or mice that carry the bacteria.
For the transmission to occur, a tick needs to be present on the skin for at least 36 hours; however, many people with Lyme disease do not recall any tick bites.
If you find a tick on your skin, make sure to contact your doctor.
Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease
Similar to other disease processes, the severity of Lyme disease varies from one patient to another.
To make the diagnosis easier, scientists divided the clinical presentation of Lyme disease into three stages:
- Early localized
- Early disseminated
- Late disseminated
The staging system also helps in organizing the treatment approaches (more on that later) to Lyme disease. However, the symptoms of these stages often overlap, which makes it more challenging to diagnose and treat.
Common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- A circular rash that looks like a target mark
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Swollen lymph nodes
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you need to consult with your primary care physician as soon as possible. The treatment of Lyme disease during the early stages is very effective, and you should take advantage of this information.
Treatment of Lyme disease
For best results, Lyme disease should be treated during the early stages.
For the early localized stage, treatment consists of a short-term course of oral antibiotics (usually between 10 to 14 days).
Commonly used medications include:
Amoxicillin, doxycycline, or cefuroxime – these are the first-line choices for adults and children.
Cefuroxime and amoxicillin – used to treat pregnant women or those breastfeeding.
Intravenous (IV) antibiotics – these are left for severe forms of Lyme disease, including cases with cardiac and brain involvement.
If your doctor opts for IV antibiotics, he/she will switch to an oral regimen once your symptoms improve. The typical course of treatment takes between 14 and 28 days.
Lyme disease is a common but serious bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. This disease is responsible for taking thousands of lives every day all around the globe.
Fortunately, the efforts and investments made by governments and healthcare institutions are starting to pay off, as we are seeing fewer cases every year – at least in the developed countries.
We hope that this article managed to shed some light on the ever-important topic of Lyme disease.