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Lyme Disease: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Lyme disease is an infectious disease which is transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is often diagnosed on the basis of symptoms, physical examinations (such as rashes) and probability of exposure to infected ticks. Some of the characteristic symptoms of a patient suffering from Lyme disease include fever, headache, weakness, muscle or joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and a typical type of skin rash known as erythema migrans. This disease is a serious issue and if left untreated, it can even spread to the joints, the nervous system and the heart. The symptoms of Lyme disease usually show up within a time period of 3 to 30 days after the bite and the symptoms are usually wide ranging depending upon the stage of the infection.

It is important to note that not all persons receiving a tick bite gets the disease. According to some recent research works it has been said that the possibility that a person may get Lyme disease from the bite of a blacklegged tick depends on whether the tick was previously infected with the bacterium or not, the place and time when the bite occurred, the time for which the tick remained attached to the person. Hence observing the symptoms of the patient accompanied with a few laboratory tests are the best ways of diagnosis for Lyme disease. Studies have proven that blacklegged ticks must stay attached for at least 24 hours in order to spread Lyme disease to the victim.

Once a patient having such symptoms is diagnosed as having Lyme disease, then he/she is treated with regular doses of antibiotics. People who are treated with the appropriate antibiotics at an early stage of the disease are usually seen to recover sooner and completely. Some of the common antibiotics used for the oral treatment of Lyme disease include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. Patients who have neurological or cardiac ailments are given intravenous medications of antibiotics like ceftriaxone or penicillin.

How is the treatment done?

When doctors diagnose a patient for Lyme disease, then they mainly look for the history of possible exposure of the person to infected blacklegged ticks and the signs or symptoms shown by the patient. Pathological tests of blood samples of the patient are often helpful in diagnosis, if they are used correctly and performed with validated methods. It is very important to be cautious so as to avoid misdiagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, when the actual cause of the ailment is something else.

In medical science, Lyme disease is basically described in three stages. During the first stage the symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, skin inflammation and rashes. The second stage of the disease is characterised by spreading of the disease to the heart and the nervous system and may involve palsies and meningitis. On the other hand, during the late stage of this disease the featuring motor and sensory nerves get damaged and brain inflammation and arthritis may also develop.

Lyme disease can be cured completely with appropriate antibiotics, if the patient is diagnosed at an early stage. The common antibiotics which are used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. Patients, who have some neurological or cardiac ailments, are given intravenous medications of antibiotics like ceftriaxone or penicillin. Oral medications like azithromycin, clarithromycin or erythromycin may be also used in the treatment of Lyme disease, although they are known to have lower efficacy. These medications should be continued for a period of 10 to 21 days until the patient recovers. It is highly recommended that the patient should take doses of the prescribed medicines regularly, as directed by their doctors. In case a patient suffers from any side effect or allergies due to such medication, then he/she must immediately consult their doctor.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Any person who has been bitten by blacklegged tick and is suffering from symptoms like fever, headache, weakness, muscle or joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and a typical type of skin rash known as erythema migrans, are said to have Lyme disease and are eligible for such treatment. Pathological tests of blood samples of the patient are also helpful in the diagnosis of Lyme disease, if they are used correctly and performed with validated methods. It is very important to be cautious, so as to avoid misdiagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, when the actual cause of the ailment is something else.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Any person who are not bitten by blacklegged tick in the near past and do not show symptoms of having Lyme disease are not eligible for this treatment. A proper diagnosis is very essential, so as to avoid problems associated with misdiagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, if the actual cause of the sickness lies somewhere else. Moreover, it is recommended that Doxycycline (an antibiotic, used for the treatment of Lyme disease) should not be given to pregnant women or children younger than 8 years of age.

Are there any side effects?

Not all people undergoing a treatment for Lyme disease, is said to suffer from side effects of medication. For some people, the side effects may be minor and can be dealt with easily; whereas for others who are allergic to a particular medication may suffer from some serious side effects. Some of the side effects for treatment of Lyme disease include troubled breathing, swelling of face, tongue, lips or throat due to allergic reactions, developing hives, severe diarrhoea, bad taste in mouth, nausea, vomiting, vaginal yeast infection and others. Some people may even develop higher fever, redder rashes or increased pain during the initial 24 hours of antibiotic therapy. This is not an allergic reaction, but a symptom that may be indicative of rapid death of the bacteria. People suffering from any of these side effects need to consult their doctor immediately so that alternative medications can be prescribed if necessary.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The symptoms of Lyme disease become very complicated if treated at a later stage. However, quicker and complete treatment of a patient suffering from Lyme disease is possible, if he/she is properly treated at an early stage. The post treatment guidelines for treatment of such a disease essentially involve taking the prescribed medicines regularly on time as directed by the doctor. If a patient is not taking the medicines regularly, then he/she may invite severe health risks or even life risk.

If a female patient is pregnant, breast feeding or planning to get pregnant then she must stop taking Doxycycline because such an antibiotic may harm the baby growing within their womb. Such female patients should not take any medicine without consulting a doctor.

Follow-up care is an important part for the treatment and safety of the patients suffering from Lyme disease. The patient should make sure to go to every appointment or call up their doctor in case they are having any problem during the course of treatment.

How long does it take to recover?

Treatment of Lyme disease at an early stage has proved to be the most effective in curing the patients from such an infection and in eliminating future health problems related to arthritis, the heart or the nervous system. Some of the symptoms may not go right away and can stay for several weeks even after the complete course of treatment is given. The time taken by a person to recover from such a disease may vary depending upon the degree of infection that the person had before the treatment began. However, on an average it takes almost 21 to 30 days for a patient to recover after the treatment is done.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of treatment of Lyme disease in India may vary depending upon the cost of medicines prescribed by the doctor. On an average, the cost of consulting a doctor (in India) regarding the problems of Lyme disease ranges from Rs. 300 to Rs. 1,500 (per consultation). The cost of medicines in India throughout the course of treatment may range from Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 5,000. Hence, the total cost for treatment of patients suffering from Lyme disease may range from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 10,000 (for each patient). This treatment is easily available in almost all cities and towns in India.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Lyme disease can be completely cured if the patients are treated at an early stage. However, with time, serious complications of heart, joints or nervous system may occur if the patient is left untreated. These symptoms can also be treated with appropriate medications but the time taken to treat patients with such complications is usually long. In case of Chronic Lyme disease, some of the symptoms may stay even after the complete treatment is done. Such symptoms like fatigue and muscle aches may stay for months before a patient feels completely well.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Once a patient gets infected by the bite of a blacklegged tick and develops Lyme disease then taking antibiotics regularly, at an early stage of the disease, is the best way of treatment. However, another alternative way to overcome such a disease is by naturally boosting a person’s immune system, lowering inflammation and management of the root cause of the symptoms occurring in such cases. Including food items, such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, coconut, bone broth, organic meat, raw cultured dairy products and foods rich in vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and probiotics, in a person’s diet helps to increase the immunity of the person and prevents them from getting infected from Lyme disease.

Popular Questions & Answers

Elisa test is accurate result of 2 months. Or not? is not accurate means what test you prefer sir.

MBBS
General Physician, Mumbai
ELISA test is confirmatory if the exposure to the virus is above three months and if you want to know it beforehand than p24 antigen test needs to be performed after clinical examination.

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