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About Lyme Disease and Tick-borne Disease

Lyme disease is a complex illness caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease – called Borrelia Burgdorferi – is transmitted by the bite of a tick.

Picture1A bull’s-eye rash, as pictured above, is a symptom of infection with Borrelia Burgdorferi and should be treated immediately. That said, while the bull’s-eye rash is a famous indicator of Lyme disease, it appears in only a fraction of cases. If you don’t have the rash, you could still have the disease. The Naturopathic Doctors at the Nardella Clinic in Calgary have the experience to identify the cases of Lyme disease, which don’t follow the classic presentation.

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Lyme disease is caused by a complex bacteria, that has several ways to damage the body. The bacteria can hide from or defend itself against the immune system and antibiotics. It can even change shape:

  • The bacteria’s standard form is a spirochete (SPYRO-KEET), which means it is shaped like a corkscrew.
  • The second form is “cell wall deficient”, which means that the bacterium sheds its cell wall. In doing so it loses the spirochete shape. Why does it do this? The immune system and many antibiotics target and kill bacteria based on the cell wall. Without a cell wall the Borrelia hides in plain sight. It is still mobile, though not as much as a spirochete, and still causes symptoms.
  • The third form is cystic. The bacteria form into a group, create a capsule around themselves, and go dormant. The capsule is impenetrable by the immune system and almost every drug. Borrelia does not cause symptoms when in this form, but they can and will stay dormant until threats pass, at which point they emerge as fully mobile spirochetes once more. These cysts are part of the reason why Lyme disease has a relapse/remission cycle, and why some Lyme disease sufferers apparently become re-infected after weeks or months of experiencing no symptoms.

Borrelia has other effective survival tactics, such as biofilm, and even has the ability to suppress the immune response. Naturopathic therapies address these issues to ensure treatment is effective.

Symptoms

Most patients with Lyme disease do not remember being bitten by a tick – or even one being on their body. The first symptoms you’re likely to experience resemble a flu, including fever, aching muscles, and headache. It is also at this point that the bull’s-eye rash may appear. There is a good chance that treatment at this early stage will result in eradication of the disease. If left untreated, however, the bacteria will spread throughout the body and dig in. The disease may progress to its chronic form and become significantly harder to treat.

People with chronic Lyme disease often see dozens of doctors and walk away with a wide array of misdiagnosed conditions, from M.S., A.L.S. and Lupus to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, and psychiatric illness. Lyme disease does indeed mimic or overlap with many conditions since it can affect every system of the body and trigger a host of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Our Naturopathic Doctors in Calgary can help you to navigate which of these symptoms are related to chronic infections.

For example:

  • Headaches, especially up the back of the neck and at the base of the skull
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Sight problems (“floaters” in vision, blindness, etc.)
  • Hearing problems (constant buzzing, deafness)
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • “Air hunger”
  • Nausea
  • Rapid and unexplained mood shifts
  • Problems with balance
  • Nerve and muscle pain
  • Tremors
  • Muscle weakness
  • Brain swelling
  • Cognitive impairment (poor memory, difficulty concentrating, a general feeling of “fogginess”)
  • Disorientation
  • Weight loss or gain

The above list is not exhaustive, and in fact is only a sample of what Lyme disease sufferers experience. Each case is unique, and direct similarities between different people are rare. This is where our Calgary Naturopathic Doctors can help to find patterns in your symptoms and identify the underlying cause.