The Great Imitator
There are a number of factors that make Lyme disease both difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat, creating a challenge for both the person suffering from the disease and the physician treating it. First, Lyme can mimic many other diseases. Its “clinical picture”; that is, the way in which it affects your health, can be similar to a number of other diseases including arthritis producing joint pain (also associated with various forms of arthritis), pain in muscles and tendons and chronic fatigue. Lyme may also give rise primarily to neurological symptoms that can easily be confused with multiple sclerosis. It’s a disease that has been called “the great imitator.” It’s also a disease that can linger, causing a chronic condition, chronic Lyme disease, that seems to come and go.
Tracking the Symptoms, Diagnosis and Cause of Lyme Disease
The symptoms of Lyme disease manifest differently in different people. For example, Lyme may present itself in the forms of arthritis, numbness, pain, or partial facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy). It may also cause neurological disorders, such as disturbances in memory, mood, or sleep patterns. Any combination of symptoms can be present. Lyme can also cause skin disorders, weight loss, or chronic weight gain. Women generally struggle with chronic Lyme more than men, for unknown reasons. It is progressive, destructive, and debilitating, and in severe untreated cases, it can be fatal.
Lyme disease is diagnosed on the basis of patient history, clinical symptoms and supportive laboratory testing. There is no known testing method that can exclude the diagnosis. There are some medical professionals that believe fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are often misdiagnosed chronic Lyme disease. The organism that causes Lyme is transmitted to humans through the bite of a tick and can be passed in utero from mother to child. The disease can be readily treated with antibiotics and/or herbals if caught and treated early. However, with chronic Lyme, the treatment is more difficult, more complex, and should be multi-faceted and comprehensive.
Lyme Disease Treatment with Multiple Approaches
Treatment should be sought from a physician very familiar with and specifically trained in diagnosing Lyme. The physician should also be trained in conventional and complementary methods of care.