Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the family of Borrelia bacteria. When an infected tick transfers the disease via bite to a living host, the bacteria makes its way through the body to organs and tissues and wreaks havoc on the nervous system and proper function of the heart, brain, muscles, and joints.
The early symptoms of Lyme present themselves as flu-like and include headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and a bullseye rash at the site of the bite. As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and can include cardiac issues such as arrythmia, lowered cognitive function, chronic fatigue, and pain in the joints and muscles. There is only one treatment available for ridding the body of the Borrelia bacteria, and that’s antibiotics.
Is doxycycline or amoxicillin better for treating Lyme disease?
Lyme disease can only be diagnosed after a series of blood tests, but sometimes it’s hard to get a proper diagnosis because the disease itself can mimic other illnesses. That’s why Lyme often goes untreated and can progress into a chronic case. In cases of both acute and chronic Lyme disease, antibiotics are the first and foremost treatment, because the bacteria cannot be fought off without it. There are two antibiotics that can be used in the treatment of Lyme: doxycycline and amoxicillin.
Doxycycline is an especially popular choice in the treatment of Lyme disease because of its efficacy as well as its safety in terms of usage for a variety of patients. It also has the benefit of being effective when treating human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), which can often occur in people with early Lyme disease. So, how long should you take doxycycline for Lyme disease? Doxycycline should be taken twice a day for two to three weeks in 100 mg increments during the treatment of Lyme disease.
Is amoxicillin as effective as doxycycline for Lyme disease?
You might be asking yourself, “Can amoxicillin treat Lyme disease?” The answer is yes. An amoxicillin treatment for early Lyme disease is widely prescribed, but for amoxicillin to have the same efficacy as doxycycline, patients will have to take almost 10 times the amount – 500 mg three times a day, for two to three weeks. Deciding which antibiotic to go with depends on the patient’s ability to keep up with the antibiotics course and how far along the disease has progressed.
Amoxicillin is also prescribed in patients who are pregnant because it’s still effective against the bacteria but doesn’t pose the same risks as doxycycline on the pregnancy and unborn child. Doxycycline is also avoided in children under eight years old, whereas amoxicillin can be taken by children who have been infected with Lyme.
The winning antibiotic
The best antibiotic for the treatment of Lyme disease will depend on a number of different factors. The age of the patient will play a huge role in what antibiotic can be taken, because several strong antibiotics can’t be taken by children. Also, for Lyme disease patients who are pregnant, certain medications can cause complications that others will not.
Other factors that come into play are the history of the patient, their allergies to certain medications, and how serious their Lyme disease infection is. Depending on the progression, certain antibiotics will do the trick without having to opt for something stronger.
Other antibiotics that can be used in the treatment of Lyme disease include cefuroxime axetil and macrolide antibiotics. Cefuroxime axetil isn’t the first choice because, although it’s effective, it comes with a heftier price tag. Macrolide antibiotics are also not the first choice in the fight against Lyme disease because they have more serious side effects. Patients with allergies to other forms of antibiotics should only use macrolide antibiotics and should be closely monitored while doing so.
Ceftriaxone can also be used, but isn’t generally used unless the disease hasn’t progressed so far to cause neurological symptoms or heart blocks. The choice of antibiotic for the treatment of Lyme disease will depend greatly on the patient.
Alternative therapies for Lyme
All instances of Lyme disease must be treated through an antibiotics course that lasts anywhere from two to three weeks depending on severity, so there are no alternative treatment therapies available for Lyme disease. The symptoms that occur in Lyme, however, can be treated through the use of alternative medicine.
To help build the immune system while the antibiotics fight off the Borrelia bacteria, a diet rich in foods that help build immune response can help combat the symptoms. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, spinach, and ginger, can all benefit the fight against Lyme disease. Some supplements are also good following antibiotic treatment, including probiotics; healthy gut bacteria may have suffered during treatment, and probiotics can help restore it.