Symptoms of Lyme disease
According to the NHS, ‘Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks.’ One of the first symptoms of Lyme disease is a round circular rasharound a tick bite, called erythema migrans. Some people may also get flu-like symptoms after being bitten, like:
- Joint pain or muscle aches
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Swollen lymph nodes
According to the CDC, ‘if left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.’
Treatment for Lyme disease
Most people with Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotic treatment. However, some people with Lyme disease continue to experience persistent symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, aches, loss of energy, and difficulty thinking, that can last for years.
It's unclear why this happens to some and not others. As stated by the CDC:
The state of the science relating to persistent symptoms associated with Lyme disease is limited, emerging, and unsettled.
These research gaps mean there's no consensus about treatment for people suffering from persistent symptoms of Lyme disease. Early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment are important to prevent persistent or chronic Lyme disease, otherwise known as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), from developing.
Does chronic Lyme disease actually exist?
However, there is a lot of controversy in this field. As there are no definitive tests or treatments for the condition, PTLDS is not widely accepted by doctors, as reported by The Conversation and the BBC. The debate surrounding treatment is so intense that some have even refer to it as the 'Lyme wars,' as reported by Harvard Health. Matthew Dryden, a consultant microbiologist at Public Health England's Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory (RIPL), said:
There is no consensus over whether chronic Lyme actually exists.