Common Lyme Disease Myths and Errors
1. Lymes, Limes, Lime disease or Lyme's Disease
This is the most common, and doctors are far more guilty of this misnomer than patients. You can usually tell if a doctor has never read any literature on lyme or if he or she is not lyme literate if they repeatedly call lyme disease "Lymes disease." Run if your doctor says something along the lines of "Lyme's disease doesn't exist, and if it did the 2 week course of doxycycline got rid of it."
2. Treatment for lyme disease is simple
If an infection is diagnosed early (let's say within the first month), then treatment for lyme disease with the standard 3-4 week course of doxycycline can be highly effective. Once it has gone on for longer, and especially if longer than 6-12 months (almost all of my patients), it becomes a very complex illness where antibiotics are only one component of treatment for lyme disease. Further, even selection and combination of antibiotics becomes more complex.
3. Lyme disease testing is simple
The standard test in Canada is a 2-tiered test involving first a screening ELISA test. If this test is positive or equivocal, then a western blot is done, reported as positive or negative. The actual bands on the western blot are not reported, so if a patient has antibodies to a highly specific band that is really only present in lyme disease, they may still be considered "negative" since they didn't have "enough" bands.
4. Borrelia burgderfori, is the only infection important in lyme disease patients
Coinfections are very important to identify. I have multiple patients who have been treated for 1-2 years, and who have had many symptoms improve, with a few remaining. It can be hard to tell if lyme is still causing most of the problems, but you can get a very good idea by running a cytokine profile test, before and after stimulation of the patient's blood with lyme. In some of these patients, inflammation in response to lyme is negative, and yet they still have a few persistent symptoms. Identifying other coinfections, like Babesia, is important as treatment is different compared to lyme treatment.
5. Antibiotics are the only medication necessary
Antibiotics, either herbal or drug based, are very important. They can be a sole treatment for lyme in the very early stages. When the disease gets chronic and complex though it is very important to address all the other factors in lyme disease. This includes sleep, brain hypersensitivity, hormone balance, toxins, and control of inflammation.