Lyme Disease seems to be everywhere these days, but it's a very confusing issue. Let's talk about lyme disease facts and learn more about this puzzling condition.
What Is Lyme Disease?
– widespread joint and muscle pain
– severe fatigue
– headache, rashes
– unexplained fevers
– swollen glands
– heart palpitations
– bowel problems
– interstitial cystitis
– TMJ, muscle spasms
– nerve pain
– abdominal pain
– double vision
– sensitivity to light and sound
– menstrual irregularity.
Quite a list, huh? What if I told you all of these symptoms could indicate Lyme Disease?
Ridiculous right? How could a tiny bug cause so many health problems? Besides, it seems like everyone and their dog has Lyme Disease lately. It's just the newest catch-all fad disease right? Or is it?
I know how you feel, because I've thought the same.
That list above is just a tiny sampling of all the symptoms I've experienced in varying degrees over the the last 16 years of my life. I'd spent years searching for answers to the problems that plagued me every day, finding no answers beyond “fibromyalgia”. When a friend suggested to me I could have Lyme Disease and I should watch the Under Our Skin documentary I honestly was offended.
“Ya right!,” I thought. “Seriously… how could a bug do all this to me?”
One afternoon, I sat down in front of my computer and caved in. I had to find an answer to the question, “What is Lyme Disease?” and as I found out, I was horrified.
As I watched, tears streamed down my face… I saw the playing out of my own life before my eyes. I finally understood my life and I saw Lyme Disease for what it truly is.
You see… Lyme Disease is much more sinister than most people give it credit for.
Why is Lyme so sinister? And what is Lyme Disease anyway?
Let's explore together…
Dr. Richard Horowitz, a leading Lyme expert, says Lyme is “the number 1 worldwide epidemic… it's spreading, it's mimicking every disease and it's going to destroy the world's population.”
Earlier this year the CDC released new statistics for Lyme, admitting they were way off on their earlier estimations of Lyme in the United States. The number? 300,000 Americans each year. This is 10 times more than what they had previously estimated! Most Lyme experts still think these numbers are inaccurate, citing that many people are not reporting to the CDC, while others have been misdiagnosed with things like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, MS, Alzheimer's, or rheumatoid arthritis.
How does Lyme cause ALL those symptoms?
Not every aspect of how Lyme Disease bacteria work is fully understood. I did a simplistic explanation of one function of the borrelia spirochete's initial action within the body here. There is a lot more going on in the body that leads to this hefty list of ailments.
1. As I noted, one of the first jobs of the spirochete is to release neurotoxins. As the name implies, neurotoxins release toxins into the nervous system, inhibiting communication of neurons (the cell that processes and transmits through your body's electrical system) through synapses (the means to transport these electrical signals between cells).
2. Additionally, spirochetes cause our body to produce too many cytokines. Cytokines are proteins who's job is to fight infection. (Sounds like a person would need lots of those to fight a Lyme Disease infection right?)
In a normal infection the release of cytokines would pump up, do it's job and then reduce again. However, as in my link above, the corkscrew bacteria of Lyme Disease make there way into every organ of the body (usually with their co-bacteria friends) causing the body to produce cytokines in excess.
Excess cytokine production leads to inflammation which leads to pain and muscle wasting, immune system suppression, disturbed sleep, severe fatigue, thyroid and adrenal problems, problems with body organs and more.
8 NOT-SO-FUN FACTS ABOUT TICKS AND LYME
- Lyme Disease is caused by Borrelia Burgdorferi, but there are other strains of Borrelia.I personally have 4 strains… Parkeri, Kochii, Persica, and Recurrentis. I do not have Burgdorferi and many others do not, however the symptoms and treatment are the same so most doctors will call it Lyme as well. Calling it Borreliosis is more accurate. (But for our purposes we will stick to Lyme.)
- Ticks do not fly, jump or blow in the wind.They come out in cool, wet weather and come out seeking carbon dioxide… i.e. your breath! They spend their time in tall grass and when you walk by, they catch a ride.
- Lyme Disease rarely travels alone.
Ticks often carry co-infections as well… Mycoplasma, Babesia, Bartonella, and Ehrlichia are the most common. (Click here for a full listing.) These carry their own complicating symptoms that can be just as severe or worse than Lyme, and often require separate treatment regimens.
- Only 50% of people get a bullseye rash!
The other 50% may have another form of a rash or no rash at all. And only 10% of children with Lyme Disease present with a bullseye rash.
- Ticks are not the only bugs that carry Lyme Disease!
It once was thought that only ticks carry the disease, not only that, but only deer ticks. Sadly, this is untrue. While deer ticks are still the number one source of Lyme Disease, lice, fleas, mosquitos, and other blood-sucking bugs have been found to contain borrelia bacteria. Whether they can transmit it in the same way as ticks is yet to be discovered. Other types of ticks such as the American Dog tick have been proven to carry Lyme and co-infections as well.
- Lyme Disease can be transmitted from person to person.
It is thought that it might be passed sexually, and also through saliva, organ transplant, blood transfusion (f.y.i – blood banks don't test for it!), breast milk, and through the placenta to the unborn child.
- If you catch Lyme Disease right away and treat it, your odds of recovery are very good, not 100%, but very good.
- Lyme is NOT easy to treat if you don't catch it right away.
Many mainstream doctors claim Lyme Disease, in it's later stages, is simply treated with a few rounds of antibiotic and any remaining symptoms are “post Lyme” and will not go away. This is untrue as well. Chronic Lyme disease treatment is possible, but it can be very difficult.
Alright… What are you panicking now?
Now that you have answered the question, “What is Lyme Disease” and you are armed with all of this information, it's terrifying, isn't it?
I know it all sounds super scary and overwhelming but it is not my intention to incite fear. However Lyme Disease is a growing epidemic and after all I have suffered through over the years, I see it as my duty to inform others about Lyme Disease.
Be aware, but don't live in fear.
My children still go into the woods to play.
Do I worry?
Yes, but living in fear of the unknown will paralyze me so I choose daily to trust that God will protect them and I take simple steps to be proactive.
Interested in simple steps you can take for Lyme disease prevention and actionable steps in case you are bitten?
I'll hope to be back soon with more tips for you so stay tuned.
For further reading, you might be interested in the following which goes into more detail in answering the question of “what is lyme disease” and what can be done to heal from it. It hasn't been reviewed by either Corah or Adrienne but it has fabulous reviews on Amazon.
(Please note – nothing in this post or in the comments was meant to be a medical diagnosis or advice. Please consult with your physician prior to changing your diet or supplements. This information was meant for educational and entertainment purposes only.)
Have you been diagnosed with Lyme Disease—or wondered “What is Lyme Disease” or if you have this horrid disease?
Corah Webber @ The Homespun Rabble Rouser is a writer, artist, and mother of 2. She splits her time between homeschooling, doodling in notebooks, researching health problems, and day dreaming. Her passion for health and blogging arose out of her own 18 year struggle with a misdiagnosed health condition that turned out to be Lyme Disease. She dreams about starting an urban farm and going back to school to be a Naturopath Doctor once she is feeling better.