Lyme Disease - Treatments

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What is the treatment for Lyme disease, and what is its prognosis?

Most cases of Lyme disease are curable with antibiotics. This is so true that some authors of Lyme disease research have stated that the most common cause of lack of response of Lyme disease to antibiotics is a lack of Lyme disease to begin with (misdiagnosis)! The type of antibiotic depends on the stage of the disease (early or late) and what areas of the body are affected. Early illness is usually treated with medicines taken by mouth, for example, doxycycline (Vibramycin), amoxicillin (Amoxil), or cefuroxime axetil (Ceftin). Of note, doxycycline should not be used in pregnancy or in children under 8 years of age.

Therefore, if a person finds a typical bull's-eye skin rash (described above) developing in an area of a tick bite, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Generally, antibiotic treatment resolves the rash within one or two weeks with no long-term consequences. Later illness such as nervous-system disease might require intravenous drugs; examples are ceftriaxone (Rocephin) and penicillin G.

For the relief of symptoms, pain-relieving medicines might be added. Swollen joints can be reduced by the doctor removing fluid from them (arthrocentesis). An arthrocentesis is a procedure whereby fluid is removed from a joint using a needle and syringe under sterile conditions. It is usually performed in a doctor's office. Rarely, even with appropriate antibiotics, the arthritis continues. It has been suggested by researchers that sometimes joint inflammation can persist even after eradication of the Lyme bacteria. This has been explained as an ongoing autoimmune response causing inflammation of the joint that was initially stimulated by the original bacterial infection. The doctor also can use oral medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Nuprin) to reduce inflammation and improve function.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Mermaid, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 06

I have had recurrent Lyme symptoms for nearly 20 years. Joint pain that resurfaces every 5 years or so but when doxycycline is prescribed, the pain/stiffness ends. What I didn't realize was that Lyme's can cause depression which I battle continually. In September I came down with a severe kidney infection and was put on doxycycline for 3 weeks along with 2 "super" shots as my doctor called them. The shock and "aha!" moment came when my distance vision returned after 10 years of needing glasses! I have been off the antibiotics now for 3 weeks and my distance vision has now "tanked" once again and severe joint pain has reared its ugly head along with burning eye pain and constant headaches.

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Comment from: K.C., 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 30

After 2 years of having eye sight problems and going to four different eye doctors, this summer I was bitten by a tick which gave me a bull's eye rash. After being treated with 3 weeks of antibiotics (doxycycline) I realized the vision problems I had had for 2 years had gone away. I went to my eye doctor who found that my eyesight had improved so much my prescription for glasses needed to be less than what I had. This is a prescription I have had for over 6 years. Here is the scary part: a few weeks off the oral doxycycline, my eyesight began to worsen. I called my eye doctor and the doctor said it was her opinion Lyme was in my nervous system. I went to an LLMD (Lyme literate medical doctor) and have been on IV for a month. My eyeglass prescription is too strong for me to wear for distance. Even my reading glasses are too strong a prescription. I just hope that when I go off the IV of antibiotics my sight doesn't retreat to the way it was. So wonderful to be able to see so well again.

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