Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can cause many systems in the body to malfunction. Since it is a bacterial infection, it can be treated using antibiotics. The caveat, however, is that sometimes the specific bacteria that causes Lyme disease can infiltrate its way into tissues and evade the antibiotics, leaving it alive and ready to attack the body in the future.
Typical symptoms of an early Lyme disease infection include fever, chills, fatigue, and a rash that is often shaped like a bullseye. When Lyme disease goes untreated, those symptoms become much worse and can become debilitating to cope with. But what about Lyme disease hair loss symptoms? Can Lyme cause alopecia?
Lyme disease can
throw up all kinds of confusing symptoms. This is especially true in its
chronic form, which has earned it the nickname “The Great Imitator.” Lyme
represents a major challenge for both patients and doctors alike. On the one
hand, late-stage Lyme disease has no defined set of symptoms, with most
manifestations of the disease being generalized and patient-specific. On the
other hand, chronic Lyme is not considered a legitimate disorder by most
official medical bodies, meaning that research and studies on the effects of
the disease are limited.
Many doctors don’t
fully understand the effects of chronic Lyme, and as such, diagnosis is often
compromised due to confusing symptoms. One of these disparate symptoms is
called cold urticaria, which essentially translates an allergy to the cold. But
can Lyme disease cause urticaria?
Lyme disease is an illness brought on by
the Borrelia bacterium. It is spread to humans through tick bites. When
ticks get hold of humans, they transfer the disease through the bloodstream, sending
the bacteria to all areas of the body. Lyme disease became known and studied in
the early 80s, but some fossilized ticks have been known to have carried the
bacteria from as long as 15 million years ago.
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.
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.