Infectolab - lymphatic system

2 Ways Lyme Disease Can Damage The Lymphatic System

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.

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Image by Ryan McGuire on Pixabay: Can Lyme disease damage the lymphatic system? The short answer is yes.

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 patients.

Chronic Lyme disease is characterized 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 out.

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.

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Image by Nastya_Gepp on Pixabay: What’s the link between Lyme disease and the lymphatic system?

2. Lyme disease can live in your lymph nodes, causing swelling

Lymphoadenopathy during 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 chronic illness.

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.

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Can Lyme Disease Cause Changes In Your Personality?

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can be contracted by a variety of animals, humans included. The tick is a small insect that burrows into the skin of the host and bites. If the tick is carrying the Borrelia bacterium, its saliva, which holds the bacteria, releases it into the host’s bloodstream, leading to an infection. While not all tick bites put a person at risk for Lyme disease, during certain times of the year – typically the warmer spring and summer months – it’s important when venturing into the woods and other green areas to take precautions.

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Can Lyme Disease Affect The Endocrine System?

We are still learning all the various ways that Lyme can wreak havoc on our bodies. Unfortunately, the longer the disease stays in the system, the more unpredictable its effects can be. Consequently, the less we know about it. Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme-causative bacteria, is a resilient, durable species of pathogen that actively resists the body’s attempts to overcome it. As it is allowed to spread further around the body, it can infiltrate key areas, leading to many varied symptoms and responses. One of the lesser-studied symptoms of Lyme disease is the toll it can take on the endocrine system. While it may not be the first thing that many people associate with a Lyme infection, it can still have a measurable impact on a patient’s health.

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Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Vision?

The toll Lyme takes on the body is hard to quantify. The chronic form of the disease affects all patients differently, often taking a long time to fully manifest. It is a particularly insidious disease in the pantheon of human afflictions, and unfortunately, one that we still know very little about. We know how it’s contracted: through ticks, which transfer the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria as they bite their human hosts. We also know that Lyme is very curable in its acute stage. The problems start when we start getting into the chronic stage. Many doctors and medical professionals are not up to speed with chronic Lyme, which is not even viewed as a legitimate disease by many official bodies. Chronic Lyme disease can affect many different parts of a patient’s body. One of the less explored areas is the link between Lyme disease and vision.

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3 Ways Lyme Disease Can Damage The Nervous System

Even though it all stems from one tiny tick bite, Lyme disease can wreak havoc on the entire body. Many symptoms of Lyme are generalized and are often mistaken for other diseases. They manifest in different ways depending on the patient, and even within the same person they can appear inconsistent and misleading. Compounding this is the fact that Lyme exists within a medical grey area. It is undoubtedly a real condition, with hundreds upon thousands of sufferers all over the world. However, it is also not fully recognized in its chronic form. Unfortunately, the late stages of the disease are the most damaging, and it’s here that patients require the most care and consideration. Symptoms are varied and debilitating, primarily affecting muscles and joints. But neurological symptoms can also occur in some cases. So what is the link between Lyme disease and the nervous system?

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