Diagnosing a phantom disease

 

Lyme disease symptoms (Not everyone will experience any or all of these.) flu-like symptoms  malar flush (red ear lobes)  pain in jaw, neck and/or back  extreme fatigue • swollen glands joint pain and swelling  swelling around eyes unexplained weight gain or loss hair loss • headache unexplained fever or sweats or chills sore throat or swelling difficulty swallowing EM (erythema migrans) rash

Lyme disease symptoms
(Not everyone will experience any or all of these.)
flu-like symptoms
malar flush (red ear lobes)
pain in jaw, neck and/or back
extreme fatigue • swollen glands
joint pain and swelling
swelling around eyes
unexplained weight gain or loss
hair loss • headache
unexplained fever or sweats or chills
sore throat or swelling
difficulty swallowing
EM (erythema migrans) rash

by Dr. Paul Stallone — 

Anyone who has struggled with obtaining a proper diagnosis knows that without identifying the disease, treatment can be like throwing darts at the wind. Without a diagnosis, treatment only involves masking symptoms, a practice that may be expensive, long, useless and even life-threatening.

Diagnosing Lyme disease can be like diagnosing a phantom. The symptoms can be misleading, the physician may not be educated about the disease, or the patient may ignore the symptoms. Many scenarios can delay its diagnosis and treatment, which is not in the patient’s best interest.

Symptoms can be mild to extreme — not everyone experiences the same or all the symptoms listed here. Most people think of a giant rash as being the main symptom of Lyme disease. However, only about 50 percent of patients actually report a circular or oval erythema migrans (EM) rash.

Another reason diagnosing Lyme disease is tricky is that, when the symptoms do present themselves, it can be years later, sometimes even 20 years after being infected. That tick bite on a hike 10 years ago is probably not going to come to mind when speaking with a doctor about the significant weight loss that will not stop.

Even pinpointing the origin of the disease is tough. Lyme disease is usually transmitted by the bite of the blacklegged tick, more commonly known as the deer tick, but it can also be spread by mosquitoes. This is another reason to take extra precaution when ticks and mosquitoes are in the area.

A less-known cause of Lyme disease infection is from a mother to her unborn baby. Borrelia burgdorferi has been found in the breast milk of infected mothers, but the research at this time is undecided about how the disease is transmitted. As with breast milk, the disease has been found in the blood of infected patients, but there are no recorded cases of direct transmission, although some tick-borne illnesses can be directly transmitted by blood.

It may seem that diagnosing Lyme disease is complicated, and it is to an inexperienced physician. However, to someone who is trained to recognize the symptoms, diagnosing the disease is fairly straightforward. Some lab tests can also reveal potential co-infections. When Lyme disease is transmitted to a person, multiple diseases can be passed on.

Treatment options will vary depending on which co-infections are present. This is another reason to seek out a knowledgeable physician for treatment of any associated symptoms that are persistent and/or unexplainable. Treatment should start as soon as possible.

Many options are available to treat this disease, from herbs and supplements to intravenous therapies. Some physicians may combine these modalities with pharmaceutical help in order to successfully treat the patient. Diagnosing, treating and living with Lyme disease can be achieved with the right help and guidance.

 

Paul Stallone, N.M.D., founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located in Scottsdale, Ariz. He combines natural, alternative and conventional treatments to best fit each patient’s needs. drstallone.com or 480-214-3922.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 1, February/March 2014.

 

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