By Francis Riggs
Lyme disease is an illness caused by bacterial organisms that are spread by tick bites. The responsible bacteria are generally known as spirochetes but exist in different species. The affected person complains of a wide range of symptoms that include among bothers, skin lesions, joint pains, and nervous system effects. There are a number of options on how to treat Lyme disease
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The causative bacteria are transmitted by ticks living on deer as parasites. A bite from the tick introduces bacteria into the blood stream. This gives rise to the first phase of the illness. The organisms incubate for a brief period of days or weeks before giving rise to the full blown illness, the second phase. The rate of progression depends on the amount of bacteria released during the bite.
The initial presentation is in the form of flu like illness while the second is more severe and affects major body systems. Advanced forms may develop into meningitis, cerebral palsies and arthritis. Anxiety and depression have been reported in a number of affected persons. Diagnosis is made based on the clinical history as well as the presence of specific antibodies in the blood stream.
The antibodies can be detected in blood by use of a special technique known as ELISA. The main disadvantage of using this method us the fact that there may be false positive results in some cases. This may lead to treatment where there is no indication. Another major challenge experienced during diagnosis is the lack of specificity of symptoms. Consequently, misdiagnoses are fairly common.
The treatment of this illness is mainly by use of antibiotics. There are many types of antibiotics that are used with the choice being determined by the severity and area of body involved. Oral drugs are good enough for the early disease. Intravenous drugs, on the other hand, are preferred when treating more advanced disease. Treatment that is started early gives better outcomes.
Doxycycline, amoxicillin and cefuroxime are some of the drugs that are used for early phase treatment. If treated promptly the early phase of the illness resolves in a week or two and usually there are no long term consequences. Doxycycline is, however, contraindicated in expectant women and children under the age of 8. The drugs that are commonly used once complications set in include ceftriaxone ad penicillin G. Unfortunately, no home remedies exist.
Supportive management is also necessary due to the many associated complications. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory agents are often part of treatment. For very severe joint pain, aspiration of synovial fluid from the affected joints is helpful. It is important to seek the opinion of a qualified health expert before starting treatment.
The incidence of this condition is highest among children aged 5 to 14 years and adults in the fifth decade of life. The most significant risk factor is living in area that is infested with the vector ticks. It should be noted that the disease is not contagious. It is also not transmitted through the placenta of an infected mother to their unborn children.
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