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Because of limitations in these and previous studies, we still don't know. More research is needed to weigh the long-term risks of hypothetical development impairment verses the not fully understood risk of the different surgeries. August Update. Many people take low-dose aspirin on a daily basis to help prevent heart attacks. Others take larger doses of stronger nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs NSAIDs , such as naproxen Anaprox, Aleve, others , to relieve musculoskeletal pain such as that caused by arthritis. Ulcers, which are raw, crater-like breaks in the mucosal lining of the digestive tract, may also be caused by excess acid production and a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori H.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine , researchers enrolled patients with a history of GI bleeding who were taking aspirin or other NSAIDs to prevent heart disease or to control musculoskeletal pain. They set out to find whether eradicating H. For six months, patients were given an 80 mg "baby" aspirin once per day, while the remaining patients received mg of naproxen twice per day.
Within each of the two groups, patients were randomly assigned to take either a daily dose of omeprazole Prilosec , an acid-suppressing medication, or a one-week antibiotic treatment to eradicate H. The researchers found that in patients taking aspirin, those who were treated for H. In other words, for patients on low-dose aspirin, the treatments were almost equal. The results were very different for patients taking naproxen.
The study suggests that patients with a history of GI bleeding who take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks should be tested for H. April Update. The Food and Drug Administration FDA has issued a warning stating that women taking the prescription blood thinner warfarin Coumadin should consult their doctor or pharmacist before using over-the-counter vaginal creams containing the antifungal drug miconazole because of an increased risk of bleeding or bruising.
Miconazole is an active ingredient in many over-the-counter creams and suppositories used to treat vaginal yeast infections. Doctors were already aware of adverse reactions between warfarin and systemically administered miconazole. This warning urges women to beware of creams and suppositories as well. The warning was issued in response to two reports of abnormal blood clotting tests in women taking the anticoagulant warfarin who used vaginal miconazole. In addition to the abnormal blood-clotting test, one of the two women also developed bruises, bleeding gums, and a nosebleed.
Two journal articles also warned of a possible interaction between warfarin and vaginal miconazole. The FDA warning will appear on miconazole-containing product labels and consumer brochures. Pneumonia is a serious infection or inflammation of the lungs. Uncomplicated pneumonia may be successfully treated with antibiotics in one or two weeks, but many patients continue to experience the symptoms of pneumonia, including cough, chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and fever, for some time after that. A team of Canadian researchers set out to determine how long after treatment it should take for pneumonia patients to be symptom-free.
The scientists asked a group of adults who had undergone a course of antibiotic treatment for pneumonia to complete questionnaires about persisting symptoms at two and six weeks after the completion of their treatment. The average age of these patients was 62 years. Fifty-four percent of the patients were admitted to the hospital for treatment of their pneumonia, and a minority had a coexisting chronic illness such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or congestive heart failure.
Older patients, those who were sickest at onset of treatment, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and patients with asthma suffered the most persistent symptoms. Although hospitalizations are shorter and antibiotic treatments briefer, complete recovery still takes time. Pneumonia patients should be reassured that a "normal" period of recuperation may vary from several weeks to several months. March Update. Breast-feeding has been linked to many advantages, including fewer earaches, colds, and asthma attacks.
Now, a large trial involving almost 16, mother-infant pairs has shown even more benefits of breast-feeding. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association , the study involved mothers from the former Soviet republic of Belarus. To avoid a conflict of interest, given the advantages of breast-feeding that are already established, the program studied mothers who breast fed for a long time compared to mothers who breast fed for a short time then switched to bottle feeding.
Some hospitals were randomly chosen to promote breast- feeding, through programs involving counseling from doctors and midwives; other hospitals, which served as a control group, provided the usual obstetric care. The World Health Organization recommends only breast milk for the first four to six months, and recommends that breast-feeding in combination with formula continue until 2 years of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk alone until 6 months, and breast-feeding plus formula until 12 months old. This study suggests that breast-feeding exclusively for the first year could provide greater health benefits to the child.
February Update. Meningococcal disease is an inflammation of the membranes that encase and protect the brain and spinal cord. When caused by a bacterial infection, meningococcal disease can be fatal. Survivors can suffer significant lifelong impairments, including permanent brain damage or hearing loss. In recent years, the incidence of meningococcal disease has been on the rise in to year-olds in the United States. Freshmen face the greatest risk. Sixty percent or more of these cases could be prevented with an existing, available vaccine.
Adverse reactions to the vaccine have been shown to be mild, and serious reactions are rare. Based on findings from recent studies and on input from expert committees, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises physicians to inform college-bound patients who intend to live in a dormitory of the increased risk for meningococcal disease and of the benefits and limitations of the vaccine.
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Physicians are also advised to make the vaccine available to those patients who then request it. An estimated 3. Hepatitis C affects the liver. It is the leading cause of chronic liver disease and liver transplantation. But not all cases of hepatitis C progress to cirrhosis and the rate of progression of the disease is often unpredictable. The standard of care for treating hepatitis C is a combination of the antiviral drugs interferon-alpha and ribavirin. However, these drugs are not completely effective, they cause side effects, and they are expensive.
Given the drugs' limitations and the unpredictable nature of disease progression, doctors remain in disagreement about whether treatment should begin at the onset of mild inflammation, or whether it should be delayed until a moderate amount of inflammation or cirrhosis exists. Using information from recent studies about the natural progression of HCV, researchers created a computer model that would help determine the optimal time to start combination antiviral drug therapy with interferon-alpha and ribavirin.
The simulation projected that 18 percent of patients who had a liver biopsy every three years and started treatment at the onset of moderate inflammation would progress to cirrhosis after 20 years. This strategy avoided the need for treatment in 50 percent of patients, and increased life expectancy by 1.
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In patients who began treatment at the onset of mild inflammation, only 16 percent would progress to cirrhosis after 20 years, increasing life expectancy by another 0. In comparison, the computer model predicted that 27 percent of patients in the control group, which was left untreated, would have cirrhosis after 20 years. This study illustrated that beginning antiviral treatment at the onset of mild inflammation is the most effective treatment strategy.
However, for patients with HCV and mild inflammation of the liver who do not wish to receive drug treatment or hope to delay it, biopsy management is also a reasonably effective option that could avoid treatment altogether. Peginterferon is a form of interferon-alpha that stays active in the immune system longer than interferon-alpha. As a result, it can be taken once a week, as opposed to three times a week.
Two recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared the effects of another brand of peginterferon, called Pegasys, with interferon-alpha on patients with chronic hepatitis C. Both studies revealed that peginterferon is significantly more effective in managing the virus. It was also better tolerated and had fewer side effects. In the clinic, interferon-alpha is usually given in combination with ribavirin, which has been shown to double the effectiveness of interferon-alpha.
Researchers regard testing a combination of peginterferon and ribavirin the next logical step in determining how to treat this disease more successfully. Over the past few years, more and more people have begun to reach for zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold. But a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that there is little scientific evidence of zinc's effectiveness to support the treatment's popularity.
In a study funded by Warner Lambert Consumer Healthcare, a company that manufactures zinc lozenges, researchers conducted two clinical trials to test zinc's efficacy. One trial involved people who were exposed to a specific cold virus, called rhinovirus, to induce a cold. The other trial involved subjects with natural colds. Both groups were broken up into four subgroups that received one of the following treatments: Zinc gluconate and zinc acetate are different formulations of zinc; zinc gluconate is more commonly found in lozenges. Treatment was started within a day of the onset of cold symptoms and continued every hours up to 6 lozenges per day until the cold symptoms disappeared, or up to 14 days.
The researchers measured the effects of the treatments on both the duration and severity of the colds. Patients self-scored the severity of seven cold symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, nasal obstruction, sore throat, cough, headache, and hoarseness. At the end of the study, researchers found that zinc gluconate had a small but significant effect on the duration of induced cold symptoms. People who had taken zinc gluconate had cold symptoms for about 2. None of the treatments, including zinc gluconate, reduced the severity of cold symptoms for the first three days of the cold. And none of the zinc preparations or placebo had a significant effect on the duration or severity of symptoms in people with natural colds.
Overall, the study suggests that zinc lozenges have little, if any, beneficial effect on the treatment of the common cold. January update. Between and , approximately 16 state health departments reported salmonella infections in persons who had direct or indirect contact with reptiles i. Salmonella infection can result in severe illness and even death, particularly in infants, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system. The CDC issued the following recommendations to reduce the chances of anyone in your family contracting this potentially deadly infection from these increasingly popular exotic pets:.
Recent research tested a potential vaccine against genital herpes only to find it ineffective. But study investigators did learn something very important about this infection. Women were about equally likely to develop symptoms or not. Perhaps the most important message here is that while a newly acquired genital herpes infection may cause no symptoms, new symptoms of genital herpes may in fact result from an old infection.
My basic dietary advice for anyone struggling with an inflammatory condition is to try removing grains, fruit and sugar from your diet while consuming anti-inflammatory foods — mostly vegetables, nuts, seeds, coconut, bone broth, organic meat and raw cultured dairy. If you want to learn more about this approach to controlling leaky gut syndrome and inflammation, you can find out much more detail in this article about healing leaky gut syndrome.
The next step in Lyme disease treatment is improving cellular functioning and protection. In order to restore cellular health, consider adding these essential nutrients to your regime:. Stress can trigger inflammation and cause hormonal imbalances, while also disturbing digestive functions and worsening many Lyme disease symptoms. To prevent a Lyme infection from continuing to worsen and spread, you must address stress with natural stress relievers if you are truly going to heal:. Parasites and mold exposure can contribute to lasting Lyme disease symptoms by stressing the immune system.
Remember that every person with Lyme disease is different — not all will show all the common Lyme disease symptoms described above, suffer from deficiencies or deal with high amounts of stress. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world More Health Dr. Axe on Facebook 22 Dr. Axe on Twitter 0 Dr.
Axe on Instagram Dr. Axe on Google Plus Dr. Axe on Youtube Dr. Axe on Twitter 11 Dr. So proportionally, there is much less federal funding to tackle tick-borne diseases than there are funding for other infectious diseases where the number of cases per year are considerably smaller. Robert Herriman : Yeah. And this related to the protection of the rights of license and qualified clinicians to use individual clinical judgment to diagnose and treat patients in accordance with the needs and goals of each individual patient.
You responded to the letter in a post on the Global Lyme Alliance website. Can you spend some time talking about that? And you know, part of the problem is in the controversy surrounding Lyme disease, is that the IDSA takes a strict parochial approach to considering Lyme disease, and the consequences of infection with bacteria that causes Lyme disease. But there is more and more well established scientific evidence in the main stream literature that argues against that very narrow understanding or narrative that IDSA wants to push forward. I mean, do you know that?
Timothy Sellati : I believe there are. The composition of the subcommittees also was careful to include research scientists and physicians that really span the spectrum from IDSA on one of the end of the spectrum, to ILADS on the other. So I really do think that within the limited, within the capabilities of the Working Group, they were as intent as possible, in terms of hearing the voices of a wide variety of individuals.
Timothy Sellati : No. So when you come into trying to solve a problem with that mindset, it limits how you approach trying to solve that problem. Sellati, any final thoughts on any of these issues? So there is one final thought. So I think if we do a better job of communicating to clinicians, and maybe even at the level of medical school students, the complexity of Lyme disease, and what some of the true limitations are in terms of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, they will be better prepared to take care of the diversity of patients that they see during their practice.
Robert Herriman : Well very good. Well, I wanted to thank you Dr. Timothy Sellati for joining me to discuss these very important issues, I appreciate it, sir. Catherine Cat Brissette received her B. Sheila Lukehart on interactions of oral spirochetes with the gingival epithelium.
She continued work with spirochetes as a postdoc with Dr. Brian Stevenson at the University of Kentucky, where she switched to the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Her work with Dr. Stevenson involved studies of outer surface adhesions and regulation of virulence factors. Cat accepted a faculty position at the University of North Dakota in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology now part of Biomedical Sciences , where she continues her work with pathogenic Borrelia species. Her lab is particularly interested in understanding why B. CB: We are working on several different aspects of neurological Lyme disease.
More specifically, how the bacteria gets into the central nervous system in the first place, how the immune system responds, and how the bacteria adapt to that pressure. In particular, we are interested in the behavioral changes that occur as a result of meningeal infection.
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For instance, anxiety and memory problems are often reported by Lyme patients, particularly in people with long-term disease or Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome, and we want to understand how the Lyme disease bacterium and the host immune system contribute to these devastating symptoms. Having a small animal model allows us to more easily test potential treatments and interventions in the lab, prior to testing in people. CB: Absolutely. Lyme researchers, like Lyme patients, are tenacious and persistent.
With drawing to a close, I want to take a moment to thank you for being a part of our community. Your generous support—whether in research dollars, program participation, or simply standing in solidarity with us as we move closer to a Lyme-free world—is deeply appreciated.
As the leading c 3 dedicated to conquering Lyme and tick-borne diseases through research, education and awareness, Global Lyme Alliance seeks to bring us all closer to improved diagnostics, more effective treatments, and a cure. We are fortunate to have many talented partners. More than 35 are leading researchers from world-class institutions.
For many—Drs. We have increased tick awareness levels through robust educational initiatives involving physicians, teachers, summer camps, and the general public. Thanks, too, to our passionate fundraisers, including our major donors, event sponsors, our athletic endurance program participants, Education Ambassadors, our thousands of first-time annual donors, and our celebrity partners who have helped us reach more than 10 million people through strategic outreach efforts.
I want to single out our newest partner, The Avril Lavigne Foundation, with whom we will grow out vital outreach efforts. And remember, a year-end gift is fully tax deductible. Together in partnership, we can keep the momentum going to beat this disease! Happy Holidays,. If you are reading this post, we have no doubt you understand the sentiment. Thank you for your ongoing support of Global Lyme Alliance and thank you in advance for your support of our newest partner, The Avril Lavigne Foundation.
Lyme Disease is one of the fastest-growing diseases in the world and has reached pandemic levels. Lyme disease is spreading rapidly around the globe as ticks move into places they could not survive before. The first epidemic to emerge in the era of climate change, the disease infects half a million people in the US and Europe each year, and untold multitudes in Canada, China, Russia, and Australia. Mary Beth Pfeiffer shows how we have contributed to this growing menace, and how modern medicine has underestimated its danger.
Pfeiffer also warns of the emergence of other tick-borne illnesses that make Lyme more difficult to treat and pose their own grave risks. I invited my brother and sister-in-law to come with me. During the event, a doctor spoke about the impact of Lyme disease on his patients. I was so grateful that my family had made the effort to come to the event and that they were able to learn about the impact of Lyme from someone other than me.
It was the first time in a long time I truly felt seen. Invisible illnesses are not easily detected by our outward appearance. Because our illnesses are invisible we often feel invisible to the outside world. If you have a loved one who has an invisible illness here are some ways you can show them that you care. You know the feeling when you open up your mailbox and among the bills and junk mail, there is a card with your handwritten name on it? It always brightens your day. Sending a card, postcard, or care package to someone who is chronically ill shows you care. Who knows? Maybe your card will arrive when the person is having a bad day and your compassion will make them feel less isolated.
If you invite them to tea, a short walk by a lake, or to a movie, they are more likely to say yes. It depends on their stamina. Some days are better than others. If the person is homebound, maybe you can binge stream a television show with them while sharing a pint of ice cream. Remember chronic illness is inconsistent.
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On a good day people with chronic illness are able to do more but on a bad day, they may not be able to leave the house. It makes it difficult to plan, so try to be understanding if the person needs to change or cancel plans. People with chronic illnesses are constantly being questioned by those in the medical field and also by people close to them. If you want to show a person with chronic illness that you care about them, take them at their word.
If they say they are tired, they are tired. If they say they are in pain, they are in pain. Each person with chronic illness has different triggers. For a person with chronic illness, each treatment decision comes with careful consideration and a great deal of anxiety.
Once that treatment decision has been made, an outsider adding their two cents only causes more anxiety on behalf of the patient. There is a wealth of information online about every illness. Take a few minutes and read up on what your loved one is going through from a reputable source. If your friend or family member posts a link with information, click on it and gain some new knowledge. It meant a lot that all those times I was talking about my fatigue, he was listening and wanted to learn more about it. If a loved one asks you for a donation or to attend an event for a cause , do what you can to make it happen.
This, of course, is not always possible. There may be financial and time restrictions that are insurmountable. It is not an expectation, but know that it will mean a great deal to the person.
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When someone is diagnosed with a chronic illness they may change their behavior, but remember they are still the same person. Try not to avoid them or treat them with kid gloves. We may feel different in many ways, so we count on those close to us help us remember who we are. They will be pleasantly surprised if you do one or two of these things. Kerry J.
Kerry was [finally] diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in , her journey with invisible illness began over 10 years prior. When I was in elementary school, I developed a barking cough every spring. Loud, disruptive and persistent, the cough drew annoyed looks from teachers and students alike. After a visit to an allergist, I learned that I was allergic to a number of seasonal and environmental irritants, including pollen hayfever , fresh cut grass, dust mites, and mold. I was given two inhalers, and the cough subsided.
I forgot about the mold allergy entirely until I was in my early twenties when the ceiling of the schoolroom in the building where I taught started to leak. Shortly after, the teacher in that room came down with fatigue, migraines and sinus issues. The leaky ceiling had caused mold, which in turn caused my colleague to get sick. I felt lucky not to be in that classroom. Like Lyme disease, mold can quietly cause damage and create a litany of health problems.
Also like Lyme, mold toxins can cause systemic inflammation. For Lyme patients and others with compromised immune systems, mold, mycotoxins and heavy metals can seriously impact recovery. Symptoms can show up immediately or years later. Due to inhalation exposure, most of these molds live in our nasal cavities, causing infection of the sinuses and lungs.
Brewer studied two patients with mononucleosis who never got better, and found black mold in their houses. Throughout my battle with Lyme, I suffered constant sinus infections, ear infections, and bronchitis. I wonder, now, if mold and mycotoxins also played a role. They could have been culprits of these infections, or perhaps they weakened my immune system, making it difficult for me to fight off Lyme, Babesia, Ehrlichia, mono and other acute infections. Though it took a long time, treatment for tick-borne illness did finally work for me. They may wish to consider whether mold and mycotoxin exposure is perhaps getting in the way of their recovery.
As Dr. If they have, what do they do about it? Your doctor may recommend intranasal anti-fungal therapy. I use a nasal spray every other day which keeps my allergy symptoms at bay and helps stave off sinus and other infections. A cool mist humidifier during these cold months also helps, but you have to be very careful about cleaning it, or, ironically, it will grow mold! While most mold lives in our nasal cavities, D. To be sure, brain detox is a huge part of recovery from neurological Lyme; once the bacteria has crossed the blood-brain barrier, it causes inflammation and build-up of both live and dead toxins in our craniums.
Moorcroft talked about the importance of glymphatic drainage, also known as deep cervical lymphatic drainage. My integrative manual therapist often uses light pressure of his hands to open up drainage from my brain to my neck. There are also more traditional detox methods, including diets and supplements. Talk to your doctor about what might be best for you, and remember that those big culprits can live in dark, unseen places.
She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Do you have a question for Jennifer? I wanted everything to be good and happy. I have been in denial. I am very scared about my future but I am ready to talk about it. I plan my day around when I can lie down and simply exist. My life revolves around medication, figuring out how to make the most of my useful hours, and fighting to appear normal to others.
I feel like the world is happening around me instead of to me. I feel I have no agency. I feel unsafe in my own body. I want to exercise and run like I used to. I want to do a lot of things I used to do, but this is my circumscribed life for the moment. I have no idea what my future holds. Who among us truly does in the long run? Nor do I know how long my recovery process will be. I have a wonderful doctor who believes me and who is by far the best physician I have ever had in my life.
But I am still me. I may be swimming in unfamiliar waters, but I can see the lighthouse. Its beam is strong and yellow while also warm and soft. It is all the parts of me that I love and can hang onto. It is my friends and family reminding me that I am not in the black waters in which I tread, not really. The lighthouse represents my friends and family, TED talks, books, molecular biology, fuzzy blankets, libraries, wool socks, kitchens and cookbooks, running trails, church choir, friends, and family.
In other words, I am still myself and I refuse to give in. I need to stop pretending that treading water is easy; the pretense only makes it harder. She wants to help others and change her little corner of the world one person at a time. Should I be worried about Lyme disease? You should be evaluated not just for Lyme but for other tick-borne illnesses as well.
Lyme disease rashes, known as Erythema Migrans EM , can present in many different forms and can migrate to different parts of the body months or even years after infection. My initial EM rash was a series of red dots on the inside of my right forearm. When I discovered it at sleep-away camp, the nurse brushed it off as nothing. Had either of us been Lyme-literate, we would have known that I should have immediately been tested for tick-borne disease, especially when I developed hypoglycemia and flu-like symptoms shortly thereafter. If you find any type of rash and think you might have been bitten by a tick—or if you have symptoms of tick-borne illnesses—you should see a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor LLMD for a clinical evaluation at once.
I started a gluten-free, sugar-free diet before I was accurately diagnosed with Lyme and its co-infections babesia, and Ehrlichia. A naturopathic physician had recommended I do so as part of treatment for Epstein Barr virus, which I was also battling. Gluten and sugar can both lead to intestinal yeast overgrowth , which can weaken the immune system. Once I was diagnosed with three separate tick-borne diseases, it became even more important to stick to the diet. Yeast and sugar can speed up the reproduction of the tick-borne bacteria and exacerbate inflammation in the body.
Eliminating—or at least significantly reducing—these foods has allowed me to stay on oral antibiotics for long periods without issues I also take essential probiotics. You might try eliminating these foods one at a time to see how you feel. Once you know what foods are best for you to eliminate or reduce, the key is moderation. For three years I stuck so strictly to the gluten-free, sugar-free diet that I refused to even take a bite of chocolate. But how was I going to get well without my favorite food?
My doctor helped me to see the bigger picture. He reminded me that dark chocolate is very low in sugar. So I now have one small piece of dark chocolate every day, and on special occasions, I have gluten-free brownies or ice cream sweetened with molasses or agave nectar. Sleep paralysis is when the brain wakes up before the body, and the body cannot move. It can be caused by severe sleep deprivation, a common symptom of Lyme disease, and can also be a sign of neurological impairment brought on by tick-borne illness.
That never happened, and my body always did eventually wake up. Usually, sleep paralysis subsides in a few minutes. Once my doctor explained the condition to me, I was less fearful when it did happen. It got much better once I started getting more restorative sleep, which I achieved through a combination of pharmaceutical medication, nutritional supplements, cognitive behavioral therapy , and neurofeedback.
A controversial aspect of discourse in the medical and scientific community has been whether and how long some patients can suffer from symptoms initially triggered by infection with Borrelia burgdorferi , a bacterial spirochete and the causative agent of Lyme disease. The underlying question being, can Lyme disease be chronic and are there clinical parameters by which this condition or syndrome can be defined? Approximately , people in the U. Studies have reported a wide range 5 to 30 percent of these individuals go on to experience Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome PTLDS.
Aucott, M. The results were published in the December issue of Frontiers in Medicine demonstrating that PTLDS is a real disorder that causes severe symptoms in the absence of clinically detectable infection. Key to the success of this study was the meticulous way in which the researchers gathered prior medical records for evidence of Lyme disease that excluded patients with conditions that may mimic those of PTLDS and whose inclusion would confound interpretation of results. In a well-curated population of 61 patients, Johns Hopkins researchers found that although physical exam and laboratory tests showed few objective abnormalities distinguishing PTLDS patients from healthy control subjects, standardized symptom questionnaires revealed that patients with PTLDS are highly and clinically significantly symptomatic, with a poor health-related quality of life.
PTLDS patients exhibited levels of fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbance, and depression which were both clinically relevant and statistically significantly higher than controls. Perhaps most importantly, the study showed that PTLDS can be successfully identified using a systematic approach to diagnosis and symptom measurement. However, with the advent of this study and the ability to unequivocally identify PTLDS patients suffering from persistent symptoms, investigators can begin the search for the cause and biological markers of this chronic Lyme syndrome and, ultimately, a means to prevent its development in the first place.
To review the press release from Johns Hopkins Medicine, click here. Timothy J. Sellati, PH.
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Hosted by fellow Lymie and alpaca lover Alex Moresco and self-certified iced coffee sommelier Sarah Aiken: we hope you enjoy listening in as much as we enjoy talking. In our fifth episode of In The Lymelight, Alex sat down with Sara Young Wang , a fellow Lyme warrior and career coach who stumbled into her Lyme diagnosis that ultimately changed her life.
Alex and Sara chat about the bumpy road through treatment, finding a new career passion and overcoming the mental hurdles that come with living with a chronic illness. We thought the patient story was still valuable for you to hear. You can follow Sara on her website, here. Our goal is to create a safe space for fellow Lymies to stay up to date on Lyme related information while building out meet-ups around our podcast for our community to connect in person we held our first one in Chicago last week and brought together 60 Lymies!
Since the beginning of our species we have been at war. As we have developed new ways to survive and stop them, they have evolved ever more complex and ingenious methods to thwart our efforts. Humans have faced numerous attempts to challenge our dominance on planet Earth , and from the Black Death to the Spanish flu, we have weathered them all.
However, since the start of the 21st century, with its trend towards global interconnectedness, these onslaughts are ever-increasing. In the past 17 years we have battled Sars , the Ebola virus, Mers , and more recently the mysterious mosquito-borne Zika virus. These diseases seeming to appear from nowhere and rapidly ravage our populations. One commonality is that they almost always originate in animals before jumping across to people, and few parasites are as good at jumping between animals and people as the tick. Ticks could be best described as the used syringes of the natural world due to their promiscuous feeding habits.
Most ticks go through three stages in their lives and feed on a different host at each stage, whilst simultaneously collecting hitchhiking microbes in their blood meals. Ticks also have one of the widest distributions of any vector on Earth — they can be found on every continent, including frigid Antarctica. This combination of ubiquity and a bad habit for accumulating pathogenic microbes make ticks some of the most dangerous vectors on the planet.
It took until for the infamous Lyme disease even to be formally described, and today the list of microbes found within ticks grows ever larger every year as numerous new species are discovered. An engorged tick removed from a host. Changing ecosystems are also forcing ticks into closer contact with humans.
Perhaps the most immediate changes are being driven by land clearing, which is forcing wildlife into closer contact with humans; with wildlife come ticks and the diseases they carry. Climate change has also been implicated: as the climate gets warmer, some ticks are expanding their ranges into places where cool winter temperatures previously limited their distribution. Geographical boundaries are also being eroded as rapid transport links environments which were previously isolated from one another.
This presents easy opportunity for ticks to cross borders and spread to new habitats they may not have previously occupied. Ticks can carry an extremely wide array of human pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Within the long list of human ailments caused by ticks, several dangerous diseases stand out.
While the recognition of Lyme disease has led to a greater study of the bacteria which cause it and more frequent testing for patients, it has been a double-edged sword, as its notoriety has overshadowed equally important diseases like tick-borne rickettsiosis TBR. TBR is caused by a number of different bacteria distributed across the globe. Unfortunately, TBR often presents with signs and symptoms similar to Lyme disease, such as rashes, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue. Although deaths are rare when TBR is treated with antibiotics like doxycycline, when the disease is incorrectly diagnosed or adequate medical infrastructure is lacking, mortalities can still occur.
Babesiosis is an emerging tick-borne disease caused by a protozoan called Babesia, a species related to the microbe which causes malaria. The disease is rarely tested for by doctors and the global levels of human infection are unknown, although some researchers believe that they may be much higher than present rates of diagnosis indicate.
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Infections can be highly variable, with about a quarter of infected adults showing no signs of the disease, while others will die from the infection. In truth the disease is still poorly understood in humans, which is compounded by the fact that several species of Babesia cause the disease and the signs and symptoms can be wide-ranging and often include fever, fatigue, anaemia, and nausea — all common features of other illnesses.
To put it into perspective, that mortality rate is similar to untreated cases of Ebola or the bubonic plague. The World Health Organisation views CCHF virus as having a high chance of causing human disease epidemics and has accordingly directed considerable funding towards finding a treatment, although to date none have been developed.
The wide distribution of tick vectors capable of spreading the disease coupled with the ability of common domestic animals such as sheep and cattle to maintain the CCHF virus in their blood at high levels means the potential for CCHF to expand into new regions like Europe is highly probable. While only discovered in , SFTS virus severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome has sparked widespread fear through much of Asia, especially in Japan where 57 people have died of the disease since Signs of the disease can range in severity from relatively mild, like fever and diarrhea, to severe, which can include multiple organ failures.
The fact that the epidemiology of the disease is so poorly known makes predicting and controlling its spread difficult. It is also known to be carried by at least two cosmopolitan tick species which are spread throughout the world from the UK, to the US, and even Australia. That might sound bad enough, but things are even worse: although the disease typically gets to humans via a tick, from there it can spread to other humans or their pets and back again into ticks who feed on infected hosts.
Ticks are ubiquitous, dangerous, and are coming into ever greater contact with us. We must recognize that the next public health crisis may come from our backyards rather than a remote equatorial jungle in Africa or Asia. She writes for the science blog on The Guardian , where this blog first appeared.
Skiing has always been part of my life. I went to a college in Vermont that had its own ski run. After graduation, I moved to Colorado to teach high school, and to become a ski instructor. It was supposed to be the high point of my life, and in many ways it was, but there were also some very low points because I was wrestling with undiagnosed tick-borne illnesses. One such low found me on the bathroom floor, writhing in pain from an excruciating migraine.
The throbbing started over my left eye, working its way up over that side of my head and around the back to my neck. I felt as if my brain was going to explode out of my skull. In the years since I had started developing strange symptoms—fever, joint aches, exhaustion, hand tremors, hives—I grew accustomed to doctors writing them off with a simple explanation. But altitude was not causing my migraines.
In fact, I was suffering from Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Babesia , the last being a tick-borne parasite that consumes oxygen in red blood cells. Due to these infections, a scan would later show that I was not getting enough oxygen to the left side of my brain. Babesia is not the only tick-borne disease that can cause headaches; so can Ehrlichia and relapsing fevers. But with or without co-infections, the vast majority of Lyme disease patients complain of headaches as a chief symptom, with pain ranging from moderate to severe. Though tick-borne diseases can cause pain throughout the cranium, migraines are usually focused to one side.
As a child, I had four surgeries to correct weak muscles in my eyes, especially on the left, leaving scar tissue over that eye. I later learned that Lyme bacteria, spirochetes, like to hide out in scar tissue, which may explain why my migraines always started over that eye. So why are headaches so common for Lyme patients? Spirochetes can enter the central nervous system by crossing the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is supposed to protect the brain from infection, but spirochetes are tricky and swift and can coil their way across, causing headaches for their victims.
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Lyme is an inflammatory disease, so once spirochetes enter the central nervous system, they cause swelling there. Richard Horowitz equates this inflammation to a fire that ignites heat, redness, pain, and loss of function. At my lowest points of illness, I got migraines several times a week.
I tried to try to push through the pain. I wanted to be living my life, teaching and skiing. But I always paid a high price for not listening to my body—or in this case, to my brain. Ignoring the headache only increased the pain, sometimes sending me to bed for two or three days at a time. I got prescription medication, which I learned to take as soon as I felt a headache coming on, rather than trying to wait it out. I also found that staying hydrated, eating foods rich in iron, and stretching gently—to help increase blood flow—sometimes helped alleviate my headaches.
The best treatment, however, was rest. If you have a swollen ankle or knee, you stay off that joint, giving it time to heal. The same is true for your brain. Your head needs time to recover from inflammation, and nothing has helped that process more for me than sleep. Though I rarely get migraines these days, I still get pressure on the left side of my head when I get tired or neurologically overwhelmed. New York: St. In April of this year, my husband was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. It is my hope that by providing this insight into how we received that diagnoses and our journey, we can help educate others about this debilitating disease.
In November of , my husband accepted an invitation from a good golf friend now retired to the King Ranch to go on a hunting trip. Jimmy is not much of a hunter; I can count on one hand the number of times in our 12 years of marriage that he has been hunting. The guys had a great trip and the last thing to cross their minds was ticks.
Not being a super avid outdoorsman, DEET was not exactly on his list of things to take. It is important to mention that at no time during his trip, or any point after, did Jimmy recall seeing a tick on him and never removed an embedded tick. Because he never noticed any of these things, we do not know the exact timeline of the onset of his infection. When he arrived in Australia, he felt like he was hit with a very severe bout of the flu. His body ached, he had fatigue and in general, felt terrible. Jimmy felt fine when he left the U. After arriving, he was able to find some over the counter pain reliever, rallied through the week resulting in he and Rickie finishing second.
Through the rest of the winter he had flare-ups like the one he experienced in Australia. During Christmas Jimmy felt terrible achy, headache, skin sensitive to the touch and would nap often. He was irritable and short-tempered. Once we arrived in Maui for the start of the golf season, he felt better, had a bit more energy and his mood improved.
But, while in Honolulu for the second week of the Hawaii swing, he was hit with another severe bout of flu-like symptoms and he even considered withdrawing from the tournament. This pattern continued throughout the winter. Good days, and bad days. Good hours and bad hours. His mood continued to decline and in hindsight, he has said he was possibly depressed.
Jimmy had no energy to practice, so his golf suffered. Getting up to go to the golf course for his tournament rounds was the only energy he could muster and most days he felt like sitting down on the tee boxes in-between holes. One of the biggest symptoms he was experiencing was brain fog. From difficulty to remembering simple tasks such as leaving tickets for friends and family, to putting on a pot of water to boil and then leaving the house, he was experiencing these types of symptoms on a daily basis.
Simple shots that he never had an issue with before were going very wrong. These symptoms manifested itself in his chipping. His patience on the golf course was wearing thin and was prone to being visibly upset during his rounds. The article cites Harvard Dr. Nevena Zubcevik, who runs a clinic for concussion patients.
In the article, Dr. Zubcevik explains how PET scans of concussion and Lyme patients, show that the brain basically looks identical between the two patients. In essence, Jimmy has been playing golf all year with the same type of brain trauma as a patient with a massive concussion. After suffering from these symptoms for a few months, he decided to see his general practitioner GP for blood work. At the urging of his sports psychologist, he was tested for Lyme at the same time. Lyme is not common in Texas. Getting the testing done in the first place required some mild arguing with his GP.
We have experienced multiple roadblocks since then, including when we tried to get our children tested as a precaution. His GP ran an extensive blood panel and the first positive test we received was for mononucleosis. Although we were surprised, at least we had an answer. Or so we thought. There was some relief but also confusion. Was it Lyme? Was it mono? What was going on and what do we do next? After several more rounds of blood draws and a crash course in Lyme Disease, we learned that Jimmy had tested positive for Lyme, Mono, two different types of pneumonia, West Nile Virus and a virus common to children called CMV.
For the past four-plus months my husband had been trying to compete at the highest level of his sport with six or more fairly major active infections waging war on his body. Ok, so he gets a pass for being cranky, depressed and not really feeling up to doing the dishes at night! Enter the specialty doctors into our journey. The easiest way for me to explain this statement is by comparing it to cancer.
If a person is diagnosed with cancer they are usually offered options A, B and C. While the options are different, they are closely related. Even after making a decision, the questions mount. Are we making the correct one? Is it going to work? Is Jimmy going to be able to play golf? Will the treatment make him more sick? A hundred questions without a whole lot of answers. He started the traditional Doxycycline therapy, but with the doubling the dose and length of treatment time recommended by the CDC for Lyme. Being a fairly optimistic person or he was in denial Jimmy convinced himself that he could play golf on doxy.
The treatment had other plans. One common side effect of doxy is sun sensitivity. Starting a sun-sensitive drug in May is not ideal. After taking a month just to get to a possible point of treatment, he was ready to get started. Jimmy played one week of golf at the Players Championship and suffered second-degree burns. His hands, neck, and ears blistered.