Lyme Disease Coinfections
Getting your Lyme Disease Coinfections treated
When people think of tick-borne illness, they usually think of Lyme disease.
However, ticks can cause many other diseases, such as ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, Q fever, and tick paralysis (CDC). Lyme practitioners also recognize another type of tick-borne disease, from organisms in the Bartonella genus.
You might pick up these diseases without getting Lyme disease. However, if you have Lyme diseases, chances are that you have some additional tick-borne infections.
If you have Lyme disease that hasn't gone away with the typical 3-4 weeks of antibiotic treatment, you'll need to go to a Lyme-literate doctor (LLMD or LLND - for a Lyme-literate naturopathic doctor). You can get the name of a doctor from a Lyme disease forum. A good LLMD or LLND should test and treat you for any coinfections. However, many of the coinfection tests are not especially sensitive. For example, there are many species of Bartonella, yet the standard test is for only one or two species. Thus, doctors sometimes need to treat based on clinical symptoms, even with negative test results.
Because of the difficulty of identifying and obtaining positive test results for coinfections, it is important for patients to learn about the symptoms themselves.
For example, I have been experiencing sore soles of the feet in the morning upon waking. If I didn't know it was a Bartonella symptom, I probably would have disregarded it, but since I know it's a symptom, I was able to mention it to my Lyme-literate doctor.
Some Symptoms of Common Coinfections
- Sore soles of the feet in the morning
- Encephalopathy (brain involvement) out of proportion with symptoms in the rest of the body
- Red splotches or raised spots on the skin
- Subcutaneous nodules
- Feeling of "coming down with something"
- Unexplained anxiety
- Mental symptoms
- Sweats, including night sweats
- Air hunger, shortness of breath
- Heating/fever and chills, temperature instability
- elevated liver enzymes
- persistent leukopenia (low white blood cells)
- thrombocytopenia (low platelets)
- muscle pain
Note: This symptom list is incomplete. Ehrlichia is usually treated by the same medication used as a first treatment Lyme disease, doxycycline.
Learn more about the Coinfections
The book below, The Lyme Disease Solution, was written by a Lyme doctor and describes in detail the symptoms, testing, and treatment of the common Lyme disease coinfections. It helped me to know what blood tests would be good to request in order to see how Lyme and coinfections were affecting me.
This book also can be helpful for educating yourself about the coinfection symptoms. It has in-depth discussions of the major coinfections and their treatment. Another strength of this book is a good chapter about what to eat when you have Lyme and related diseases. The main message is to eat a low-sugar anti-inflammatory diet.
A great book on lab tests, symptoms, and antibiotic and natural treatments for all aspects of Lyme and coinfections.
Herbal Protocol for Lyme treatment back-up
Sometimes it takes a while to get an appointment with a Lyme doctor. You might have to wait a month or two or travel to see your doctor. This book, Healing Lyme, describes an herbal protocol of 3 or more herbs that you can use while waiting for antibiotic treatment.
The book describes and discusses the science behind herbs that might be helpful for:
- Lyme disease
- Lyme eye symptoms (floaters, etc.)
- memory and cognitive dysfunction
- Lyme arthritis
- Lyme carditis
- Bell's palsy (mild facial paralysis)
- immune support
In my experience, this protocol helped me greatly by staving off my usual relapse between when my regular doctors stopped prescribing me antibiotics and when I was able to have my first appointment with a Lyme-literate doctor. Some people get better on this protocol, but I mostly stayed the same, and once I had the option, I decided to go back on antibiotics.
In addition to describing herbs for Lyme disease and coinfections, this book gives an extremely in-depth description of scientific research about the Lyme organism and how it enters and affects the body. It is the most scientific Lyme book I have seen.
My favorite Lyme disease book. Describes the science behind everything in the book. Gives suggestions for using herbs as a back-up treatment if you have to wait for antibiotic treatment, or as a sole treatment if they work for you.
If you want more specific information and help for Bartonella or Babesia, you might look at Dr. James Schaller's books on these coinfections. They include discussions of antibiotic and non-drug treatment possibilities.
All in all, if you have reason to believe that you have any tick-borne illness, it is important to consider the many different tick-borne illnesses, not just Lyme disease. Tick-borne coinfections can cause some serious symptoms and should not be ignored.
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