Lyme disease is known for its capacity to wreak havoc on the entire body, especially if it isn’t treated early. This is because the borrelia bacteria has a particular way of setting up shop deep within the body’s and evading immune cells and antibiotic treatment. In some cases, treating Lyme disease early can lead to a full recovery. In others, even people who have treated their Lyme disease can end up with what is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. If the infection is left untreated for too long, irreparable damage can be done within the body.
While symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue are commonly associated with Lyme disease, the condition can also affect many other aspects of the body such as the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the musculoskeletal system. When the musculoskeletal system is attacked, for example, it can lead to pain and inflammation in the joints, tendons, bones, and muscles. So can Lyme disease cause trigger points as well? Read on to learn more.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can present with mild to moderate symptoms upon the initial infection. When a person seeks treatment promptly, their chances of destroying the bacteria completely are higher; however, if treatment is delayed, the bacteria can essentially “camp out” within the tissues of the body, causing chronic post-Lyme disease symptoms.
When someone develops post-Lyme disease syndrome, they can experience issues with various parts of the body – the bacteria doesn’t discriminate, and can attack several different organs and organ systems. In some cases, Lyme disease can attack the structures of the eye, such as the optic nerve. When this happens, the eye structures become inflamed, which affects vision and could bring on pain in the eyes. In some cases, other vision issues can develop, such as contrast sensitivity. But what is contrast sensitivity, exactly? And what is the evidence surrounding contrast sensitivity impairment in post-treatment Lyme disease?
Getting bitten by a tick isn’t always a cause for concern, because not all ticks contain infectious bacteria. However, many do, so if you are bitten, you may be at risk of contracting Lyme disease. Lyme can be debilitating because of the way the bacteria infiltrates the body, hiding out in tissues and causing damage over the long term.
Understandably, when a person is pregnant, they may wonder if getting a tick-borne infection can harm their unborn child. Research has investigated the impact that Lyme disease can have on both the child as well as the person carrying the baby. While the serious repercussions of Lyme disease spreading to the unborn child are rare, there are some things those expecting should be aware of when it comes to tick-borne infections in pregnancy.
The immune system is home to various cells, all of which have their own jobs to do when it comes to keeping the body functioning and healthy. Immune cells are broken up into several categorizations: lymphocytes, monocytes/macrophages, and neutrophils. Within the lymphocyte grouping, there are T-cells, B-cells, and natural killer cells.
T-cells are designed to start a reaction against specific pathogens, which then signals B-cells to start creating antibodies – proteins designed to help the body fight off pathogens. Natural killer cells are then tasked with activating receptors that lead to the production of small proteins that can kill the pathogen or limit its ability to spread throughout the body.
The immune system uses all of these cells to help keep you healthy. However, in some diseases or infections, levels of immune cells can change dramatically. One such cell is often negatively affected by disease: a natural killer cell known as CD57. But what is a CD57 cell marker? And how is it related to chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease?
Humans and animals contract Lyme disease
when they’ve been bitten by a tick. Not all ticks carry Lyme, but ticks
carrying bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi are the ones that spread
disease. When a tick bites into human skin, its saliva introduces the bacteria
into the person’s bloodstream. The infection can result in long-term physical
damage, and many patients report changes in their behavior and mental health as
well, especially if they have carried Lyme for a long time unknowingly. When a
tick bite goes untreated, the body suffers from the symptoms of Lyme disease
without the additional help of antibiotics.
Lyme Disease: Signs & Symptoms
Lyme disease can be broken down into two
distinct phases: acute Lyme disease and chronic Lyme disease.When a person is initially bitten by a
tick carrying Lyme, their body enters the initial stages of the disease – the
acute period. As the name suggests, this is when the body begins to react to
the immediate bite. Symptoms include the commonly experienced bullseye rash: a
red mark where the tick has embedded itself into the person’s skin, surrounded
by several red, progressively larger circles around the bite. The medical term
for this is Erythema Migrans Rash, and it occurs in 70-80% of
by patients feeling effects of Lyme long after medicine can explain why. The
bacteria may have been purged from the body with antibiotics, yet patients with
chronic Lyme still experience symptoms such as trouble with memory, difficulty
speaking, joint pain, fatigue, and mental health disturbances like anxiety and
depression, which some hypothesize could be a result of managing a long-term
disturbance in physical health without appropriate support. Because the actual
Lyme bacteria in many cases is no longer traceable in the body, chronic Lyme
disease can be difficult to diagnose and track.
Lyme Disease and
the Lymphatic System
Your lymphatic system is an essential
part of your immune system. It helps produce the cells that make your immune
system strong enough to fight illnesses off, and also regulates things like the
removal of excess fluid from your body and the transportation of fat around the
bloodstream. When the lymphatic system is under stress, the physical results
are occurrences such as bloating, skin problems, and the swelling of the lymph
nodes themselves, found in the neck, collarbone, underarms and groin. If your
next question is: are swollen lymph nodes
a symptom of Lyme disease? – well, you’d be smart to ask. Read on to find
2 Ways Lyme Disease Can Damage the Lymphatic System
1. Lyme disease suppresses the immune system
Any infection will cause your body’s immune system to be on high alert.
And that’s OK, because that’s what the immune system is for! The problem arises
when people with Lyme start to enter the chronic, long-term phase that some
patients report experiencing. Because the battle with Lyme is prolonged over
months or even years, your lymphatic system, an essential component of your
immune system, understandably gets tired. This begins a vicious cycle, since
immunosuppressed people are more susceptible to contracting other illnesses because
their system isn’t strong enough to fight off everyday bugs as a result of
running on overdrive.
2. Lyme disease can live in your lymph nodes, causing swelling
Lyme Borreliosis is a correlation that doctors are still exploring in depth.
Simply put, Lymphoadenopathy is the swelling of the lymph nodes. Lyme
Borreliosis is the scientific term for Lyme disease, and so the phrase
demarcates the tendency for the lymph nodes to swell when a person has
contracted Lyme. Studies show that Lyme actually
makes a home for itself in a person’s lymph nodes,
which triggers an immune reaction, sending the immune system into attack mode
to protect the body and commonly leading to swelling.
Often called The Great
Imitator, Lyme disease doesn’t stop here when it comes to inciting reactions
from the body that are difficult to attribute specifically to Lyme (after all,
most infections cause our immune systems to kick into gear). As researchers at University of
California, Davis, report: “B. burgdorferi [Lyme] have apparently struck an
intricate balance that allows the bacteria to both provoke and elude the
animal’s immune response.” It is this cycle of
triggering an immune response but not being eradicated, only to trigger the
response again, that might explain why some people’s Lyme disease becomes a
What to do if you think you’ve contracted Lyme disease
If you think you’ve contracted Lyme disease, it’s
essential to consult a medical professional right away. Because chronic Lyme is
difficult to diagnose, it is important to make sure that the physician you
choose is Lyme-literate – that is, that they are familiar with The Great
Imitator, and are open to working with you based on the symptoms that you
report to explore all the treatment options possible.