Understanding Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that is caused by a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, and can be harbored by deer ticks. If you spend time in heavily wooded areas where deer ticks harboring Lyme disease thrive, you may be more likely to become infected. FirstCare treats hundreds of Lyme disease sufferers each year.
If you are treated with an appropriate antibiotic early in the course of Lyme disease, you have an excellent chance of making a full recovery. If treatment is delayed until the later stages of the infection, your recovery may be slower, however, most people who are given the appropriate treatment typically recover completely.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, approximately 10 to 20% of people who are treated for Lyme disease with the recommended 2 to 4 week antibiotic course will have symptoms that linger.
These symptoms include muscle aches, joint pain and fatigue. In certain patients, these symptoms can last for 6 months or more, and while this condition is often referred to as “chronic Lyme disease,” it is medically known as “post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome,” or PTLDS.
While most Lyme and infectious disease experts believe that PTLDS is caused by the residual tissue and autoimmune damage that was sustained during the initial Lyme infection, the exact cause is not fully understood.
Similar autoimmune responses are sometimes seen with other bacterial infections such as campylobacter, which is occasionally preceded by Guillain-Barre syndrome. Reiter’s syndrome can follow a chlamydia infection and rheumatic fever can follow a bout with strep throat.
If you were treated for Lyme disease but still feel ill, visit your physician to discuss treatment options that may help relieve your symptoms. Treatment methods for patients suffering from post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome are often similar to those offered to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Well-managed symptom management makes it easier for PTLDS patients to cope with their illness.