The Great Lyme Disease Debate

Let’s say you were diagnosed with Lyme disease, given a course of antibiotics, and told you were cured. A year or so later, some of the symptoms you had when you were diagnosed with Lyme disease might come back. Your joints may throb in pain, your muscles may spasm uncontrollably, and you may have a splitting headache that just won’t go away. You might go to the doctor, only to be told that there is nothing wrong with you.

You may suffer in pain for years because the majority of the medical community doesn’t recognize chronic Lyme disease. The majority of doctors believe that Lyme disease goes away after it’s treated with antibiotics and never comes back. But those who believe they are suffering from chronic Lyme disease couldn’t disagree more.

English: Erythematous rash in the pattern of a...
English: Erythematous rash in the pattern of a “bull’s-eye” from Lyme disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The existence of chronic Lyme disease is still up for debate. Lyme disease is the result of being bitten by a black-legged tick that infects a person’s body with bacteria. Many doctors believe that a month-long course of antibiotics will remove all the bacteria associated with Lyme disease from a person’s body.

A small number of doctors believe that the bacteria associated with the disease can enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on a person’s health for years. These doctors also believe that this kind of chronic condition can be treated with a long-term, aggressive regimen of antibiotics. And this kind of treatment for what’s believed to be chronic Lyme disease has been successful for many patients.

Lyme disease and chronic Lyme disease are both very difficult to diagnose, which is why many doctors are reluctant to believe in the existence of chronic Lyme disease. According to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Foundation, only about half of patients diagnosed with Lyme disease recall being bitten by a tick.

Since Lyme disease shares some commonalities with disorders like Fibromyalgia, it can be difficult for physicians to diagnose, especially if a patient doesn’t recall coming into contact with a tick.

Despite being difficult to diagnose and difficult to detect, the president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Education Foundation, Richard Horowitz, MD, asserts that chronic Lyme disease does exist and can be treated. In fact, Horowitz says he has witnessed the dramatic, positive effects of treatment for the condition firsthand among his patients.

Despite lack of cold, hard evidence in favor of the existence of chronic Lyme disease, the success of long-term antibiotic treatment for the condition indicates that it does truly exist. As of now, there’s a lack of education and knowledge about the chronic condition in the medical field. Until more research is conducted to prove its existence and until more doctors spread the word about this chronic disease and how to treat it, we can expect that some patients will be misdiagnosed and suffer needlessly.

This is a guest post by Carolyn. Carolyn is a guest post writer on the subjects of pathology, medical education, and LPN programs.