Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium that can lead to debilitating symptoms if left untreated. The most common treatment for Lyme disease is a course of antibiotics, but with so many different types available, it can be difficult to know which one works best.
Here, we’ll explore the various antibiotic options and their effectiveness in treating Lyme disease. We’ll also provide some tips on how to prevent Lyme disease and what alternative treatments are available.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium transmitted through tick bites. Ticks are small arachnids that feed on the blood of animals – including humans! – and can transmit dangerous diseases like Lyme.
Symptoms of Lyme disease typically appear 3-30 days after being bitten by an infected tick, and include:
- A circular rash at the site of the bite
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
If left untreated, these symptoms may worsen over time and could potentially cause severe health problems such as meningitis or arthritis.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?
One of the challenges with diagnosing Lyme disease is that its early-stage symptoms mimic those present in other illnesses like flu. If you experience any flu-like symptoms shortly after being exposed to ticks, inform your doctor immediately about your exposure history!
Diagnosis usually relies on clinical observation rather than laboratory tests – particularly since false negatives are high especially within first few weeks while ‘the bacteria count’ in body fluids are low . When diagnosis isn’t clear-cut; doctors might perform laboratory tests such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay , but be mindful that these tests aren’t always conclusive. The ELISA test measures the levels of antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi in your blood. If IgG and IgM are found it suggests current or previous exposure to the disease
What Antibiotics Are Used To Treat Lyme Disease?
A majority of Lyme patients receive some type of oral or intravenous antibiotic therapy — no surprise there. Different types of antibiotics however, might yield different results depending on an individual’s case.
Here are a few options:
Doxycycline is an oral antibiotic endorsed as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate-sized early stages of Lyme disease. It can also be used as a preventative measure if you know you have come into contact with ticks recently.
While not appropriate for use during pregnancy, its side effects consist largely of minor gastrointestinal issues which resolve when usage is stopped
Amoxicillin another go-to antibacterial but this time around especially during advanced cases using IV administration route is utilized commonly. The major downside? This medication may exacerbate some individuals’ gut flora and they might experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea etc. . They may need probiotic supplementation.
Cefuroxime axetil is yet another go-to oral antibacterial remedy often administered twice daily for roughly 20 days
It has fewer side effects than amoxicillin while still proving effective against many forms where ‘bacteria count’ isn’t too high;however, cannot be prescribed during pregnancy just like doxycline.
Ceftriaxone aka Rocephin is another effective follow-up antibiotic for advanced stage cases. Rightfully so as it’s only available with a doctor’s prescription, and generally given via intravenous injection. Whereas this drug certainly helps tackle Lyme disease, people are prone to be bothered by some possible minor side effects like headaches or skin irritations.
Azithromycin is an oral or intravenous treatment option recommended in the Advanced stages of Lyme but still sometimes prescribed. Funnily enough this antibacterial also effectively eliminates other microorganisms such as syphilis.
However, there are downsides: Notably its side effect profile can include digestive problems and rare cases report heart rhythm disturbances.
Which Antibiotic Works Best For Lyme Disease?
As we’ve seen above, different antibiotics may work better depending on your specific case. That said, what has worked best across generations of studies? Well that would be doxy…
A 2001 study found that a short course of doxycycline was highly effective – with cure rates upward of 90% – for patients diagnosed at early stages compared to the other two common treatments mentioned above.
From earliest onset, Doxycycline seems almost tailor made to obliterate all bacteria present however its efficacy falls significantly when these suckers barge into central nervous system. Ie :Advanced stage treatment might rely on other alternatives not just one therapy especially if no response evident through usage
How Should Antibiotics Be Administered?
As mentioned earlier; Documentation supports oral or third generation drugs being somewhat more efficient in destroying bacteria before disseminating elsewhere…but for prolonged, some doctors may move towards intravenous antibiotics. People undergoing such therapy would have a thin tube temporarily inserted into one of their veins in order to directly inject meds.
What Other Lyme Disease Treatments Are Available?
Given the growing gap of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms recently; why not touch on alternative options? While there is no consensus among medics ;here are a few suggestions:
Probiotics and diet
Studies show that gut flora imbalances might be inevitable during microbiome disruption caused by antibiotics. It makes sense then that improving one’s nutrition and taking probiotics supplements during remains an important consideration among academics as effective complementary measures.
Herbal Remedies like turmeric, cats claw oil or even whole andrographis plants have been suggested for treating Lyme. Maybe those struggling might consider supplementing with these, but should definitely remember this doesn’t substitute seeking professional advice on treatment.
How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented?
Prevention!! To help ward off tick bites:
- Avoid walking through wooded areas with high grass
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when going outside
- Apply insect repellent that contains between at least 20% DEET
- Shower within two hours of being outdoors
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Lyme Disease?
If you suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, contact your doctor immediately after possible tick exposure. Write down thoughts promptly & preferably come along accompanied by someone who was present/attended nearby Should start antibiotic use begin at that moment?
Can I Be Re-Infected With Lyme Disease?
Yes. Ticks can carry more than one type of bacteria and you could be bitten by a different infected tick. During active remission, personal prevention is still important to prevent reemergence.
How Long Does Lyme Disease Treatment Last?
Typical Antibiotic treatments last 2-4 weeks for the acute stages depending on nurse/doctor directions. However if symptoms persist, antibiotics might need to be extended or another alternative might recommended.
While there isn’t a definitive winner in terms of which antibiotic works best against Lyme disease — like most things in life, it depends on the specific situation. Doxycycline seems among themost efficient for early stage diagnoses however everyone’s response will differ and monitoring what works best should offer guidance going forward
Lastly remember this adage: Prevention is key! Try limiting tick exposure as much as possible because even with antibacterial use; patients may experience negative effects down the line. Look out for methods of hygiene such as probiotics during treatment and alternatives such as turmeric/oils if warranted. Simply put ; lower chances means proper measures work.
Stay healthy & hope u enjoyed !