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Lyme Disease & Fibromyalgia: An Overview

Lyme disease is a tricky bacterial infection. While it can be treated using antibiotics, many people who contract it go on to develop symptoms long after treatment. This is referred to as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). This chronic version of Lyme can affect up to 20% of individuals who get the disease. For those who develop PTLDS, chronic symptoms include pain, fatigue, and cognitive impairment.

Many other health disorders present similarly to chronic Lyme disease. The symptoms are often so similar that Lyme disease has earned the nickname “the great imitator.” New research has begun to shed light on how Lyme disease affects the body, with some finding that there may be more of a connection between Lyme disease and other chronic diseases than once thought. One of those diseases is fibromyalgia. But what is fibromyalgia, exactly? And how is it connected to Lyme disease?

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is, first and foremost, a chronic pain disorder. The pain that occurs in people with the condition is generally whole-body or widespread pain. Roughly 2% of the American adult population struggles with fibromyalgia daily.

While research is yet to pin down an exact cause of the condition, how it develops has to do with changes in brain chemicals. When levels of brain chemicals become abnormal, they negatively affect how the central nervous system carries pain signals throughout the body. It’s thought that the pain signaling is askew, causing pain to develop where it shouldn’t.

Even though the cause of fibromyalgia is not yet known, some risk factors are associated with the disease’s development. Age is a risk factor, and other associated conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, are also connected to the onset of fibromyalgia.

Image by Marino Linic on Unsplash: Can Lyme cause fibromyalgia?

Lyme disease vs. fibromyalgia symptoms

The symptoms of fibromyalgia vary, but always include chronic pain. People with the condition may also experience stiffness that affects the entire body; issues with cognitive functions such as memory, thinking, and concentration; and headaches.

Other possible symptoms that people with fibromyalgia can develop include:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Feelings of tingling or numbness in the extremities, specifically the hands and feet
  • Disorders of the jaw that present with pain in the face or jaw
  • Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or abdominal pain
  • New onset of irritable bowel syndrome

Since many of these symptoms can develop in several conditions, fibromyalgia can sometimes appear like other diseases, such as Lyme disease. The symptoms that can occur in people with chronic Lyme disease include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive issues that affect memory and thinking
  • Difficulty sleeping or having restless sleep
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Swelling in the joints

Since Lyme disease and fibromyalgia have several overlapping symptoms, this could present an issue when determining between the two. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are connected.

Is there a link between fibromyalgia and Lyme disease?

According to some research, the link between fibromyalgia and Lyme disease may simply be their shared symptoms. It’s thought that Lyme disease may sometimes be incorrectly diagnosed in patients with fibromyalgia, and these patients may be given antibiotics. Because antibiotics do not treat fibromyalgia, they do nothing to help those who have not actually contracted the bacterial infection.

However, other studies have assessed fibromyalgia risk when associated with Lyme disease. The results show that while the two conditions aren’t always related, some people may have fibromyalgia triggered by Lyme disease.

Image by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash: Is there a connection between Lyme disease and fibromyalgia?

Are you at a greater risk of fibromyalgia after Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is not considered an official fibromyalgia trigger. However, several studies have been performed in the last three decades that state otherwise. One study done in 2015 monitored patients with confirmed cases of Lyme disease to assess the long-term repercussions of the disease following treatment. The study showed a 1% rate of fibromyalgia following a Lyme disease infection, typically following two or more Lyme infections.

Another study, published in 1992, found a far higher incidence rate of fibromyalgia symptoms in people with treated Lyme disease: 14 out of the 15 patients in the study had persistent fibromyalgia symptoms after being treated for Lyme disease.

More recent research has found that Lyme disease can trigger fibromyalgia in a small number of people. The caveat is that people who develop fibromyalgia after treating Lyme disease do so when there is no active bacteria or infection in their body. Because of that, only a few people with fibromyalgia may have had it triggered by previous infection with Lyme disease.

To sum up: Lyme disease and fibromyalgia definitely have similar symptoms. There’s some evidence to support that Lyme disease can trigger fibromyalgia, but not enough cases have been found to make it an official risk factor.

Featured image by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

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16 Worst States For Lyme Disease In The US

Lyme disease has become a severe problem in the United States because of the rampant tick population. The bacterial infection infects half a million people each year in the country. With that many people contracting Lyme disease, it’s hard to feel safe while out in wooded areas where the ticks are the most likely to be. 

That being said, ticks are not prevalent in every state. Some areas in the US carry a much higher risk than others when coming into contact with infected ticks and contracting the difficult-to-treat Lyme disease infection. But what states are the worst for Lyme disease, and what can you do if you live in these areas?  

What States Are Vulnerable For Lyme Disease? 

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the country. More and more people each year are getting diagnosed with the bacterial infection. That is especially true in states more vulnerable to larger infected tick populations. 

While more than half the country is home to these ticks, certain areas have seen an uptick in Lyme disease cases. That is likely because of the climate and environmental factors that come into play regarding a tick’s life cycle and where they best survive. 

Ticks can thrive in conditions above 4 degrees Celsius. Typically, every state in the country can hover at that temperature at any point in the year. However, there is more to it than temperature. Ticks need high humidity levels since they cannot drink water. They rely on humid conditions for their bodies to stay effectively hydrated – a humidity of 85% or higher is ideal. If the humidity dips below 80%, the tick’s life will be cut short due to dehydration. 

Ticks also need many hosts to feed off of to stay alive. While there is wildlife across the country, some states provide the best possible hosts for them to latch on to. Low-lying vegetation is also an essential aspect of survival for ticks because it allows for a shield from the sun and shelter. Hosts such as deer, mice and sheep also frequent these areas, making it much easier for a tick to survive. 

The states that are most vulnerable to ticks are those that meet the above criteria. Northeastern states such as New Jersey and New York make for prime conditions. 

Image by Ryan Stone on Unsplash: Where is Lyme disease the worst in the US? 

What Seasons Are The Worst For Lyme Disease? 

Lyme disease tends to spike in the warmer months. From late March to late October can be prime time for ticks because the weather tends to be more humid and warmer, and most hosts are out and about in the vegetative areas. The time between these months is typically called tick season since that is when most ticks are feeding. 

Depending on the weather and recent changes caused by climate change, tick season can last longer if the cold of winter is warded off for longer or ends sooner than expected. 

What State Has The Highest Incidence Of Lyme Disease? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state with the most Lyme disease cases in 2019 was Pennsylvania, with 6,763 confirmed cases. Another 2,235 probable cases were added to the data as well. The incidence rate per 100,000 people in the state was roughly 52.8. The states that followed Pennsylvania with the highest Lyme disease rates were New York with 2,847, New Jersey with 2,400 and Maine with 1,629. 

While these four states had the most cases in the country, there are high incidence rates in 10 others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lyme Disease Maps. Most of the states with the highest Lyme disease rates fell into the Northeast Region, with 12 states. 

The other 2 with the highest incidence rates, Wisconsin and Minnesota, belong to the upper Midwest region of the country. The Northeast and upper Midwest areas have a climate that gives ticks enough humidity, hosts and vegetation to thrive. 

What Are The 16 Worst States For Lyme Disease In The United States? 

While the following 16 states account for those with the highest incidence rates in the country, the number of confirmed and probable cases varies significantly by state. The highest is in Pennsylvania, while the lowest belongs to Massachusetts. 

  1. Connecticut 
  2. Delaware 
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Maine
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Maryland
  7. Minnesota
  8. New Hampshire
  9. New Jersey 
  10. New York 
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Rhode Island
  13. Vermont
  14. Virginia
  15. West Virginia
  16. Wisconsin
Image by Erik Karits on Unsplash: Where in the US is Lyme disease most common?  

How Can I Protect Myself If I Live In These States? 

Living in a tick-filled state doesn’t mean you have to avoid the outdoors like the plague. It simply means that, when enjoying the great outdoors, you must be more thoughtful about how you do it and ensure you’re aware of the Lyme disease risk. 

Ticks latch onto bare skin and continue to feed for as long as possible. To avoid this when hiking or spending time outside, wearing loose-fitting and light-colored clothing can help you protect yourself from getting bit. 

You can also use bug spray that contains DEET which may help ward off ticks and make you less attractive as a host. Following an outdoor excursion, you will also want to thoroughly check yourself, your family and any pets you have for ticks. It typically takes a tick 24 to 48 hours to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. That means that the faster you detect and remove the tick, the better your chances of avoiding the infection. 

To remove the tick, you can use tweezers and gently squeeze the tick. Once you have a good grip, you will slowly and gently pull the tick out, being careful to ensure the entire tick stays intact while you take it out. Once removed, put the tick in a bag and have it sent for testing. That will help you identify whether or not the tick that bit you has the infection, and also allow officials to track diseased ticks in the area. 

Lyme disease is challenging to cope with, so it’s best to protect yourself before contracting it. 

Featured image by Erik Karits on Unsplash

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Can Lyme Cause Mold Sensitivity?

Various factors play a role in human health and wellness. What a person consumes, what they’re exposed to, and how they handle illnesses all determine their overall level of health. 

In many cases, people contend with several infections throughout their lives that are mild and leave no lasting impression. In other instances, however, those infections can be severe and cause long-term consequences. 

In the case of Lyme disease and mold toxicity, both outcomes are possible. The two conditions, although caused by pathogens, are not the same – but are they connected in any way? Can Lyme cause mold sensitivity? Let’s investigate. 

Continue reading “Can Lyme Cause Mold Sensitivity?”
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September 2022 ILADS Conference: Everything You Need To Know

Lyme disease – a tick-borne illness caused by bacteria – has become an epidemic and is one of the fastest-growing and most prevalent infectious diseases affecting the United States population. While treatments are available, the nature of the disease and how the body responds to it have turned it into something much more severe. That is because some people can feel its debilitating effects even after being treated with antibiotics. 

The severity of the infection is also concerning. It is one of the most challenging diseases to diagnose and treat effectively. Because of its serious nature and rising cases, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society aims to educate medical professionals about what they can do to prevent the spread of the disease and the adverse effects of infection. They do this by hosting an annual ILADS Conference. This year will mark its 23rd year. Here is everything you need to know about this year’s ILADS Conference. 

When Is ILADS Conference 2022? 

In 2022, the ILADS conference will be hosted in late September between Thursday, September 22 and Sunday, September 25. The conference will provide a base for the ILADS community to meet and mingle after a long COVID break that had caused stalls. During the weekend, presentations and educational panels will be held to provide healthcare professionals with the tools to diagnose Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses earlier and more accurately. 

The September conference also looks into the possible treatments available for tick-borne diseases. That helps medical professionals with specific designations make the most of what is available to them and their patients. Medical professionals with the following designations are the target audience: 

  • MDs 
  • DOs
  • NDs
  • PAs
  • NPs
  • RNs
  • LCSWs
  • DCs
  • PhDs
  • Psychologists 
  • Other professionals who work with Lyme and related disease patients 

These professionals are invited to the Lyme conference to be better informed and equipped to handle patients with tricky and challenging diseases. 

Image by Product School on Unsplash: Who is speaking at 2022’s ILADS Conference?

Where Is ILADS Conference 2022? 

The ILADS Annual Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Florida – the same venue as last year. The reason for the repeated venue is its central location to the airport and other attractions in Orlando. Because of its accessibility, the hope is that more people will attend the conference and possibly bring their families to make it a vacation. 

Who Is speaking At 2022’s ILADS Conference 

This year’s ILADS conference has many presenters and guest speakers that are professionals in the Lyme disease and other tick-borne disease sectors. Speakers include: 

  • Holly Ahern, MS, MT(ASCP)
  • Robert C. Bransfield, MD
  • Cheryl Burdette, ND
  • Noam Cohen, MD, PhD
  • Eboni Cornish, MD 
  • Magdalena A. Cubala-Kurcharska, MD, PhD
  • Tania T. Dempsey, MD
  • Gill Diamond, PhD
  • Marna E. Ericson, PhD
  • Leona Gilbert, PhD
  • Rosalie Greenburg, MD
  • Sabine Hazan, MD
  • Myriah W. Hinchey, ND
  • Amiram Katz, MD
  • Gary Kaplan, DO
  • Casey Kelley, MD
  • Danial A. Kinderlehrer, MD
  • Henry H. Lindner, MD
  • Alessandra Luchini, PhD
  • Shawn Manske, ND
  • Hope McIntyre, MD
  • Scott McMahon, MD
  • Jacquelyn Meinhardt, DNP, FNP
  • Omar Morales, MD
  • B. Robert Mozayeni, MD
  • DeAnna Nara, PhD, MSc, LDN, NU, CNS
  • James R. Neuenschwander, MD
  • Amy Offutt, MD
  • William V. Padula, OD, SFNAP, FAAO, FNORA
  • Bruce K. Patterson, MD
  • Chad J. Prusmack, MD, FAANS
  • Jayakumar Rajadas, PhD
  • Leo J. Shea, III. PhD
  • Craig Shimasaki, PhD, MBA
  • Samual M. Shor, MD, FACP
  • Kayla M. Socarras, MS
  • Theoharis C. Theoharides, MD 

This group of medical professionals will be discussing neurological injuries, fundamentals, diagnosis and more. 

Image by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash: Who can attend the ILADS Annual Scientific Conference (Sep 2022), Orlando USA? 

What Are Some ILADS Events? 

Each day of the conference will host various events geared toward medical professionals looking to increase their knowledge, know-how and understanding of vector-borne illnesses. While the events are not obligatory, they are not to be missed by those who genuinely want to change how patients fight Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. 

The Vector-Borne Illness Fundamentals course event runs Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm and will educate medical professionals new to these types of infections, or those who wish to brush up on what they already know. Education surrounding the basics is a vital piece of the puzzle regarding understanding these illnesses and how they can often slip under the radar. 

Other noteworthy events include: 

  • Maternal Fetal Transmission – Friday from 3-3:30 pm 
  • Year in Review of Tick-Borne Diseases: Emerging Trends in Borrelia, Babesia, and Arbovirus – Friday from 4:50-5:15 pm
  • Neuroquant® and Biomarker Data in Brain Injury and Biotoxin Exposure – Saturday from 3:30-4:00 pm 
  • Botanical Medicine and Vector-Borne Disease: From Roots to Reason – Sunday from 9:15-9:55 am

These are just a few of the many events medical professionals can attend at the ILADS Annual Scientific Conference. You can see the full schedule on the ILADS website for more information. 

Featured image by Wan San Yip on Unsplash

black legged tick
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Are Lyme Disease Symptoms Cyclical?

Since Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, many assume it’s simple to treat: you take antibiotics, and the bacteria die. However, that is not always the case. While some people can treat their Lyme disease with no issue, many go on to suffer long-term consequences from the infection. A condition known as post-Lyme disease syndrome affects many people, meaning they continue to experience Lyme disease symptoms long after treatment has occurred. 

Lyme disease symptoms are not fun to deal with and can even cause permanent damage to various areas of the body. But how exactly do symptoms develop? And are Lyme disease symptoms cyclical or constant? 

Continue reading “Are Lyme Disease Symptoms Cyclical?”