Lyme disease causes all sorts of disparate symptoms in its chronic form. The problem of continued misdiagnosis is extremely prevalent, despite there being an estimated 300,000 new cases of Lyme every year. Chronic Lyme is not recognized as an official disease, which certainly compounds the problem; however, the issue runs deeper than that. Chronic Lyme symptoms are so varied and patient-specific that many medical professionals won’t even consider Lyme as a possible cause, simply because it covers so much ground. This can prolong patients’ suffering and increase the instances of misdiagnosis.
However, diagnosing chronic Lyme correctly is a very hard task that currently requires specialists like those at Germany’s BCA-clinic. Only educated professionals can look at the totality of the symptoms and decide if it’s Lyme.
One area we know Lyme affects is the digestive system, but it does so in a number of varied ways. But can Lyme disease cause acid reflux? And if so, how and why does it manifest?
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease was discovered in Connecticut in 1975. It is caused by the bite of a tick carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The tick species that carry Lyme are the deer tick (sometimes called the black-legged tick) in America, and the castor bean tick in Europe. Lyme comes in two distinct forms. The acute form is easily treated with antibiotics and is a medically accepted condition; symptoms at this stage appear flu-like, and may also include a telltale rash in the shape of a bullseye, located at the site of the bite.
However, if the disease is not treated and left to resolve on its own, it will transition to the second phase, called chronic Lyme. This is a far more serious manifestation for two reasons. Firstly, it affects the whole body in different ways, differing in severity and breadth on a patient-to-patient basis. Secondly, the education on chronic Lyme is scant, due to it residing in a medical grey area.
Why Is Chronic Lyme So Difficult to Treat?
Chronic Lyme is difficult to treat because it involves two separate symptom sets. The first is a continued infection from the initial Borrelia bacteria, which can potentially infect numerous systems within the body. The second comes from the body’s own response to this sustained infection and consists primarily of inflammation symptoms and potentially debilitating fatigue. Antibiotics are required to treat the underlying infection, but the treatment of inflammation symptoms requires a more refined touch. Nutrition and potentially natural supplements are necessary to reduce the inflammation, but this process can take a long time.
Correct diagnosis is also a major issue with chronic Lyme. Not only are most medical professionals not well-versed in its disparate symptoms, but the different stages and balance of infection vs. inflammation make reliable and accurate diagnosis difficult, even for experts.
Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Digestive System?
Lyme disease is a systemic infection. This means that, over time, it can infect any organ or tissue within the body. Digestive health is one of the key components of a healthy immune system; over 80% of our immune response is located in the stomach. The Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria can permeate the gut in chronic Lyme and cause inflammation symptoms. In addition, digestive problems can inhibit the immune system and lessen the body’s natural defenses, allowing the bacteria much more free reign. So it’s vital to find and address the underlying immunity issues when working out a treatment plan for chronic Lyme.
The problem is that digestive symptoms are very generalized, and won’t immediately be associated with Lyme by the majority of doctors. There are many ways that Borrelia bacteria can affect the digestive system; but is acid reflux one of them?
Does Lyme Disease Cause Acid Reflux?
Lyme disease symptoms in the GI tract can be extremely debilitating for patients. The list of potential symptoms, even just in the gut and digestive system area, can seem overwhelming. Gastroesophageal reflux can indeed be a symptom of chronic Lyme. The word “reflux” means “back” or “return”. It occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and irritates the esophagus lining or even the throat. It can also cause heartburn, a condition where the acid from the stomach irritates the area around the heart and causes short bursts of stabbing pain. However, it is important to keep in mind that acid reflux is only one of the multitude of GI symptoms that chronic Lyme can cause. The main problem is the infection of the digestive organs by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, and the inflammation that ensues.
To treat chronic Lyme effectively, antibiotics must be used to eradicate the overriding infection, while probiotics and supplements are utilized to balance out the healthy bacteria in the gut and strengthen the immune system. When it comes to chronic Lyme, often the inflammation symptoms can cause more obvious issues than the infection. Both must be treated simultaneously to ensure recovery.