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Lyme Disease and Co-Infections

Posted Jul 21 2010 9:22am
So, today is Day 4 of my trial of going off doxycycline to see whether my Lyme is gone yet.  I have to admit I'm not all that optimistic because I've tried this twice before and my symptoms came back...although I would love to be back to dealing with just one illness instead of two!!  (If you're new to my blog, I've had CFS for 8 years and just got Lyme two summers ago.  Check out this earlier post on CFS and Lyme for the background.)

I felt good the first few days without doxycycline.  I'm starting to get achy legs, a bit of a sore throat, and feeling a bit run-down, so now comes the guessing game - is it "just" CFS or is the Lyme still there?  We've had a busy week, with houseguests and a broken air conditioner (it's being fixed right now), so it could be a CFS crash.  With the aches, though, I suspect it's still Lyme.  I'll give it another day or two.

Meanwhile, I promised (weeks ago!!) to give you more details about the symptoms of Lyme and its co-infections (other common infections carried by ticks) because these infections are so often misdiagnosed as CFS.  I believe that anyone with CFS and/or fibromyalgia should look into Lyme because they share so many symptoms, particularly if you are getting worse over time and/or have increasing neurological symptoms.  More than 50% of those with Lyme were not aware of a tick bite because the ticks that transmit it are the size of a poppy seed.

Here is a brief overview of some of the characteristic symptoms of tick-borne illnesses (though, like CFS, there are a wide variety of symptoms).  If your symptoms match any of these, then you should definitely get tested for all of them (though the tests are prone to false negatives):

Lyme Disease
  • Gradual onset, often monthly flares (the Lyme spirochetes have a 28-day reproduction cycle)
  • Chronic pain, especially in joints; joint swelling; arthritis-type symptoms
  • Flu-like symptoms - fatigue, achiness
  • Brain fog that gets progressively worse
  • GI problems
  • Heart racing
  • Lower than normal body temperature
  • Increasing neurological symptoms over time
Bartonella (also known as Cat Scratch Fever - can be transmitted by ticks or cat scratches)
  • Central Nervous System symptoms, including irritability/anxiety, GI upset, muscle twitches, overstimulation, light sensitivity
  • Pain in soles of feet
  • Occasional night sweats
  • Rash that looks like strange lines, either horizontal or vertical (can look like stretch marks or like long scratch marks)
  • Headaches
Babesia (causes Babesiosis)
  • Abrupt onset with fever
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Severe Lyme symptoms
  • Symptoms worsen after exercise
Ehrlichia (causes erhlichiosis)
  • Rapid onset with fever
  • Severe knife-like headaches
  • Sore muscles
  • Sometimes a spotted rash
  • Low white blood cell count
I pulled these lists together from several sources.  This past blog post includes several links to excellent resources on Lyme and its co-infections.

Lyme and other tick-borne infections have been diagnosed in every one of the 50 states and in almost every country around the world now, thought they are more prevalent in certain regions.  Although they are hard to get rid of when they've been undiagnosed and untreated for a long time, these infections ARE treatable. 
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