Lyme DiseaseTesting & Treatment
Dr. James R. Bowman, ND DiHOM
Lyme disease is on the rise, on the move, and is often very difficult and confusing to diagnose, even for experienced medical doctors. Adding to this challenge is the lack of knowledge about the patient that occurs when testing analysis is performed far from both patient and provider, a situation that is more often the case than not. For patients, the wait to obtain the results of their Lyme test can be a cause for great anxiety.
Here at the Naturopathic European Medicine Center in Stevens Point, we are proud and pleased that we are the first and currently the only clinic in Wisconsin to utilize the Sofia 2 Lyme FIA Test to provide results fast (within 15 minutes while you wait), with a trained professional doctor on staff to perform and interpret the test.
Sofia 2 Lyme FIA is a CLIA-waived tier-one Lyme test that uses a simple finger-stick whole blood sample, and is conducted in the doctor’s office at the point of care, with results available within 15 minutes.
Get on the Path to Recovery Without Delay!
There are many challenges to diagnosing Lyme Disease, even for experienced medical doctors.
Ticks are small and hard to see. The bacteria they carry, Borrelia burgdorferi, are evasive and hard to detect, and the symptoms are often generic and common to other illnesses and diseases. Many doctors are too quick to dismiss the possibility of Lyme, attributing symptoms to other causes, leading to ineffective treatments – or no treatment at all.
The United States Centers for Disease Control reports that vector-borne illnesses (diseases transmitted to humans and other animals by blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) have more than doubled since 2004, and that Lyme disease involves over 60% of these cases.
Estimates in some areas suggest that Lyme disease is profoundly underreported, and that the number of actual cases may be far higher than are known. As of 2016, ticks carrying Lyme disease were found in about half of the counties in 43 of 50 states in the United States.
Diagnosis is Difficult
In spite of being the most common insect-borne illness in the United States, Lyme disease and the diagnosis of Lyme disease remains misunderstood, even in geographic areas with high level of occurrence.
Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. In part this is because Lyme’s wide range of symptoms are similar to those of many other common ailments.
Symptoms may include (in any combination):
- A rash that may or may not itch, expanding outward from the site of the infecting insect bite
- Unexplained skin rashes or large bruises without usual cause
- Achy, stiff or swollen joints
- Headaches, dizziness, fever
- Night sweats and sleep disturbances
- Cognitive decline, difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to light and vision changes
- Neurological problems such as loss of coordination, loss of balance, muscle weakness or paralysis, numbness or tingling, or loss of taste and smell
- Heart problems, chest pains, light headedness, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat
- Mood changes or swings, unexplained irritability, anxiousness, or depression
- Ear ringing (tinnitus), hearing loss
- Jaw pain or toothaches that are not related to actual tooth decay or infection
- In children: Regression, decline in school performance, mood swings, regression of social and speech skills or motor coordination, loss of appetite.
Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to progressive symptoms and permanent damage. Most people with Lyme who are treated right away with three weeks of antibiotics have a good prognosis for recovery.
On the other hand, if you are not treated for weeks, months, or even years after infection, Lyme becomes more difficult to treat. Within days of the infecting bite, the bacteria can move to your central nervous system, muscles and joints, eyes, and heart – leading to many of the symptoms listed above.
The progression of Lyme can vary by individual. Not everyone infected with Lyme will have the same symptoms, or symptoms in the same combinations. Symptoms may also vary in severity. Lyme is a multi-system disease, attacking more than just one bodily system.
Once contracted, the invading Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria embeds itself in body tissues and remains in the bloodstream only in low levels.
If you don’t have the initial tell-tale circular Lyme rash radiating out from an identified tick bite, diagnosis is usually based on your symptoms and your potential or likelihood of exposure to the species of ticks most likely to be carrying the disease.
Often, diagnosis is a process of eliminating other possible diseases or conditions that would cause the same symptoms.
Not all ticks carry Lyme. The Lyme bacteria is transmitted mostly by blacklegged ticks in their nymph or adult stage.
Most people do not even remember a tick attachment. Ticks in the nymph stage are the size of poppy seeds, and their bites are easy to miss. Research suggests that transmission of the bacteria may take from 12-36 hours of attachment by the tick before the disease can be transmitted.
If possible, if you have removed a tick, save it in a resealable container to show your doctor. Your doctor will want to determine if it’s a blacklegged tick and if there is evidence of feeding.
Ticks enlarge as they feed, and your risk of contracting Lyme from an infected tick increases with the length of time that the tick is embedded and feeding on your blood. Finding a Lyme-aware doctor is important.
The signature rash of a Lyme tick bite looks like a solid red oval or a bull’s-eye. It can appear anywhere on your body. They bull’s-eye has a central red spot, surrounded by a clear circle, with a wide red circle on the outside.
The rash is flat and usually doesn’t itch. The rash is a sign that the infection is spreading within your skin tissues. The rash expands and then will fade over time, even if you’re not treated – however this does not mean that you are cured of the infection. If possible, take a picture of the bite area and rash to show your doctor.
The initial rash usually appears at the site of the bite within 3 but as many as 30 days after the bite occurs. Similar but smaller rashes can appear three to five weeks later, as the bacteria moves through tissues. Sometimes the rash is just a red blotch, or may take other forms such as a raised rash or blisters.
Regardless of when the rash forms or recurs, it is important to photograph it, and to see your doctor to get tested and treated promptly.
The CDC recommends a two-tiered testing approach using blood-serum testing for detection of IgM and IgG antibodies to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.
A positive tier-one result will then be referred to a second-tier Western Blot test to confirm the tier-one positive.
A case of suspected Lyme disease is confirmed only if both the first-tier and second-tier tests both return positive results.
Antibodies to the Borrelia burdorferi bacteria remain in the blood for months or years, making tier-one serology (testing of the blood serum) a very useful tool in the initial identification of Lyme disease.
A second-tier test Western Blog test is necessary after a positive tier-one finding, because tier-one testing will also yield a positive result to the presence of antibodies to Treponema pallidum, the bacteria that causes Syphilis, and the Epstein-Barr Virus which causes Mononucleosis, a disease with symptoms similar to early Lyme infection.
Time is Important
A final challenge in Lyme disease testing is the time to result.
Typically for traditional tests requiring a venous blood draw and transport to a lab offering Lyme serology analysis, it may typically take days or weeks to obtain an initial result. Some labs will store blood samples and batch their Lyme testing in order to maximize the efficiency and minimize the costs of their Lyme test analysis processes.
This wait to get a Lyme result can be a source of great anxiety for patients. More importantly, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible in order to obtain the best chance for the patient’s recovery from the disease. Every day waiting is another day for the disease to progress and to further attack body systems.
Even if the result is negative (which occurs over 80% of the time) the delays involved lead to additional unnecessary suffering by the patient, when a negative Lyme result suggests that the physician continue to look to look for other causes for the patient’s symptoms.
Now – A New, Faster Option
The Sofia 2 Lyme FIA we use here at the Naturopathic European Medicine Centre in Stevens Point is a fast, simple finger-stick tier-one Lyme test that detects IgM and IgG antibodies to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.
Requiring just a few drops of blood, the Sofia 2 Lyme FIA can be performed right in our office, with results analysed by our on-staff doctor (ND) in just 15 minutes or less, saving you days or weeks of worry, and enabling you to move forward with the next steps right away.
If you think your symptoms may be related to possible Lyme Disease, or if you think you may have been exposed to a tick bite and would like to know if you’ve been infected, call us today at (715) 341-4949 for an appointment to be tested. It’s quick, easy and inexpensive.
If you have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease and are looking for more natural ways to deal with your symptoms and regain your health, we can help! Call us today for an appointment and consultation with Dr. James R. Bowman, ND DiHOM.
Sources: http://www.sofia2lyme.com/white-paper/#_ftn6 , https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease-symptoms
Dr James R Bowman, ND DiHOM
Dr. Bowman is a Board Certified Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) and focuses his practice around the German naturopathic model of health. From his Navajo roots Dr Bowman learned to appreciate the wisdom of natural healing and a spiritual, holistic approach to good health. Dr Bowman also works with medical doctors and other healthcare practitioners to restore and optimize patients good health. For an appointment call (715) 341-4949 Monday-Thursday, 9AM to 5PM.
The information in this website is intended for general informational and educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the services or products offered are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Diet and nutrition are an inexact science and results obtained are not always constant or predictable. The dietary and nutritional information or recommendations that may be advised are not prescribed. *Dr. James R. Bowman ND does not represent or claim to conduct the activities of a medical doctor such as diagnose illness, issue Rx prescriptions or medications or perform surgery. Each user of this website must make all decisions for themselves related to their own health and well-being, with regards to the information presented herein. We fully support your choice to always seek a second opinion from your primary medical physician or other healthcare provider.