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! 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 effectively 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.

In those people with two or more episodes of erythema migrans rash, even years apart, it is felt that the episodes represent different infections or reinfection, rather than persistence of the original infection.

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. Oral medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Nuprin) can also be used to reduce inflammation and improve function. There is no evidence that nonspecific fatigue that persists after treatment for Lyme disease is related to persistent infection. The risks of prolonged treatments with antibiotics are far greater than any benefit in this situation.

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See what others are saying

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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Comment from: Lauren, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

After years of looking for an answer to my fatigue I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease as well as H. pylori. I am at the stage where I have numbness and weakness in my arms, vision problems and chest tightness and heart palpitation. I was just put on 2 weeks of doxycycline 100 mg 2 times daily. After what I read I wonder if this is enough at this stage.

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