Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms and Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH



What Is Lyme Disease?

Tick bites can spread the Borrelia bacteria which can infect and cause chronic Lyme Disease symptomsLyme disease is an illness caused by an infection of several species of the Borrelia genus of bacteria, including B. Burgdorferi, B. Garinii, and B. Afzelli. These pathogens colonize the gut microbiome of the Ixodes scapularis tick, often when the tick feeds on a mouse or rat early in its life cycle. These small rodents often act as carriers for the pathogen. When an infected ticks feeds on a human host, the pathogen is passed on, infecting the host. In many cases, the host never feels the tick bite, and thus cannot recall ever being bitten, meaning the eventual chronic Lyme disease symptoms come as a surprise.

Aside from tick bites, there are no other known methods for transmission and infection by the Borrelia bacteria responsible for causing Lyme disease.

Prevalence of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is endemic to most continents in the northern hemisphere, with cases reported in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. The different strains of the Borrelia bacteria predominate or are generally constrained to certain geographical areas. B. Burgdorferi is the most prevalent strain in North America, while B. Afzelii and B. Garinii are more endemic in Europe and Asia. There is, however, a great deal of crossover with these three main strains.

There are a total of 13 total strains currently identified including B. Andersoni, B. Miyamotoi and B. Japonica. Many of these strains are only endemic to a defined geographical area; for example, B. Japonica is confined to the eastern hemisphere. Specific symptoms experienced can vary, depending on the specific strain of Lyme disease that is the infectious agent.

Early Symptoms of Lyme Disease

For most people infected with Lyme disease, the first sign is usually a bullseye-shaped skin lesion or rash that appears at the bite site between half a week and four weeks after being bitten. The rash is not always exactly the same shape or form between different individuals, and can even be absent in between twenty and thirty percent of those infected. Other early symptoms can include headaches, muscle soreness, fever, fatigue and flu-like symptoms.

If unrecognized and untreated, the infection can grow beyond its initial stages and spread throughout the body. A Yale University clinical study found that in a cohort of 314 Lyme disease patients, half began to develop secondary skin lesions and rashes at sites far removed from the original bite. These were accompanied by further symptoms, including migratory musculoskeletal pain, swelling of the lymph nodes, swelling of the testes, and irritation of the meninges of the brain. The bacteria will also attack the nervous system, causing memory loss, sleep problems, brain fog, facial palsy, and can affect the heart’s control system and cause arrhythmia of the heart.

Laboratory Testing of Lyme Disease

Lab tests are not reliable enough to positively rule in or out infection by the Borrelia bacteria with chronic Lyme disease symptomsDiagnosis of Lyme disease is currently complicated by the lack of a reliable and definitive test. A dual step blood test does exist for detecting antibodies against the Borrelia bacteria; however, the blood test often fails to detect the antibodies in the early stages of the infection, before Lyme disease has had a chance to really take hold. In general, it takes four to six week for the immune system to generate enough antibodies to fight against Borrelia infection to show up in standard testing.

Other tests are even less helpful or their accuracy has not been adequately determined; these include urine testing, immunofluorescence staining, reverse western blot, and synovial (joint) fluid testing. If a tick has been caught and retained after a bite, the tick can be tested for the Borrelia bacteria; however, this is also inconclusive, because a bite does not always transmit the pathogen, the specific tested tick may not have been the vector for the pathogen, and tick testing takes a significant period of time for results to be returned, potentially allowing the Lyme disease infection to grow.

Instead of relying solely on tests, diagnosis must be based on a combination of medical history, history of tick exposure and correlation of symptoms, along with available laboratory results. As mentioned before, one challenge to correct diagnosis and timely treatment is that many people may not remember ever being bitten by a tick, and if such an individual also did not develop a skin rash upon infection, detection and treatment may not occur in time.

Acute Lyme vs. Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms

Even after seemingly successful conventional treatment of Lyme disease by antibiotics, many people continue to experience lingering chronic lyme disease symptoms such as joint pain, ongoing memory issues and chronic fatigue. This is known as chronic Lyme disease, as opposed to acute Lyme disease during which the Borrelia pathogen is clearly ravaging the body with an active infection, with high laboratory Lyme titer detected.

The mechanism behind the chronic form of Lyme disease is an infectious state known as a stealth infection. Once symptoms of acute Lyme disease have been suppressed using antibiotics to kill off the pathogens, a small number of the Borrelia bacteria continue to live in the host. Laboratory studies have returned to normal, patients are pronounced cured and treatment ceases.

Animal studies have shown that, even after antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease, live bacteria can continue to persist. In this stealth infectious state, the organisms are in a near-dormant state, and largely do not trigger a general immunologic response from the body’s defenses such as inflammation and leukocyte production. Even in their dormant state, however, the pathogens do continue to secrete minute amounts of toxic metabolites and byproducts as a function of their own metabolism, causing chronic Lyme disease symptoms.

Even if treated, the bacteria can remain in the body in a subclinical fashion and cause chronic Lyme disease symptomsIn healthy bodies, these toxins are low enough in quantity that the normal detoxification and internal cleansing systems keep them from doing much harm. A healthy liver, immune system, microbiome, extracellular matrix (ECM) and kidneys are able to flush the toxins out, metabolize and process them in the liver, and excrete them. However, in cases where these normal detoxification functions perform suboptimally or are damaged, problems can appear when the systems are under stress and unable to perform at the level required. These constant, minute secretions of toxins start making the body feel sick, bringing on various chronic Lyme disease symptoms, such as joint pain and fatigue. People continue to feel as if they were never cured, or that they have recurrent or chronic Lyme disease. Multiple visits to the doctor usually lead to even more aggressive antibiotic therapy that may work temporarily, only to relapse when antibiotic treatment terminates.

How Chronic Lyme Disease Affects the Adrenal Glands

From the body’s perspective, the key to health is balance; hormones need to be in balance for many bodily functions to operate, nutrient and energy intake need to be balanced with energy expenditure and excretion, and the rate of cell death needs to be balanced with the growth of new cells. Using this frame of reference, stress is any force that threatens to destabilize or upend these delicate balances inside the body. The body’s stress response system consists of multiple organs and systems working in unison. The NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress ResponseSM system is responsible for these functions, with the adrenal glands playing a critical role. It works tirelessly to secrete cortisol, the body’s main anti-stress hormone, in order to counteract the effects of stress and maintain balance within the body.

Illnesses and infections such as Lyme disease are serious destabilizing forces for the body, and it spares no effort in trying to eradicate the invading pathogen by way of the immune system. Both the immune response and the destruction caused by the invading pathogen are acute stressors on the body, and the adrenal glands must work to moderate their effects and keep the body in functional balance until the pathogens are cleared out by the immune system.

The stress caused by chronic Lyme disease symptoms put stress on the adrenalsHowever, in the presence of chronic Lyme disease, where the body is constantly in a stealth infection state, the pathogens do not trigger a general immune response that chases them out of the body. The low-grade infection goes under the radar and remains free to pump minute toxins into the body, causing stress and forcing the adrenal glands into chronic overdrive to maintain balance. If the body is constitutionally strong and there are few other stressors affecting the body, there is little to worry about. The body’s normal housekeeping functions have enough energy and functionality to counteract the negative effects.

However, if the adrenals are otherwise overstressed, or if the body is constitutionally weak, this constant and continuous wear on the adrenal stress response system can take its toll: without rest, the adrenals begin to wear down and degrade in function. The drawdown in adrenal function caused by chronic and unrelenting stress is known as Adrenal Fatigue. This condition has many signs and symptoms across different organ systems, although the hallmark symptom for all sufferers is fatigue.

Brain-Related Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms

The Borrelia bacteria can infect many different areas of the body including the brain, causing neurological and psychiatric chronic Lyme disease symptomsLyme disease is a truly multi-systemic disease, meaning the course of infection affects multiple different systems. Crucially, one of the systems most often affected if the pathogen is given the opportunity to spread throughout the body, is the central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord.

One of the symptoms of Lyme infection in the brain is microedema, or swelling in the brain. As the brain swells, it begins to push on the meninges – the membrane surrounding the brain – and can even begin to squeeze against the interior of the skull. The resulting neurological chronic Lyme disease symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Neuralgias or neuropathic pain, which may feel like stinging or pricking, along with extreme sensitivity to light touch or pressure
  • Cranial nerve disorders: dizziness, tinnitus, hearing loss, double vision, drooping eyelids, numbness, pain and tingling of the face, facial palsy (in one or both sides of the face)
  • Seizures
  • Autonomic nervous system dysfunction – problems in regulation of pulse and blood pressure
  • States that mimic symptoms of other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Bell’s palsy, ALS and multiple sclerosis

These effects also have a cognitive toll as well. The brain’s ability to process information and think straight is negatively affected. It’s like finding out that there’s LSD in the punch, and you’re not sure what’s going to happen next or if you’re going to be in control of your own thoughts. In fact, seventy percent of people dealing with Lyme disease also report changes in their thinking such as memory loss and reduced mental sharpness.

This fact is backed by neurologists from the American Academy of Neurology, who say that patients with nervous system Lyme disease may also have one or more of the following symptoms: sciatica-like nerve pain, weakness or numbness due to nerve damage, or changes in cognitive function such as thinking, reasoning, remembering, and imagining.

Other specific symptoms of cognitive loss include:

  • Impaired memory and memory loss
  • Development of brain fog
  • Slowness or difficulty in language processing
  • Dyslexia
  • Problems with numerical processing
  • Spatio-visual processing impairment (losing things, getting lost, disorganization)
  • Decline in abstract reasoning
  • Attention issues such as the inability to maintain divided or sustained attention
  • Poor auditory and mental tracking and scanning (loss in ability to follow daily affairs)
  • Increased and persistent distractibility

Not all those infected, even for a significant period of time, will experience all such symptoms; many may find they mainly notice headaches, neuralgias, brain fog and cognitive slowness. Notably, these chronic Lyme disease symptoms are similar to symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue.

The Neuro-psychiatric Toll of Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms

Chronic Lyme disease affecting the brain can trigger chronic lyme disease symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks and personality changesThe evidence pointing to the connection between neurological infection of Borrelia bacteria and the psychiatric manifestations of Lyme disease continue to mount. Many of the psychiatric chronic Lyme disease symptoms are related to the inflammation and swelling of brain tissue as it reacts to Borrelia infection. This has a marked effect on cognition and mental function. In fact, psychiatric Lyme disease has been linked with virtually every psychiatric diagnosis and can affect people of all ages and from all walks of life.

In one case study, a college student developed panic attacks and severe anxiety along with loss of appetite and insomnia. These were eventually traced back to Lyme disease infection and seemingly successfully treated. However, the student later began to experience a recurrence of the earlier symptoms, now also accompanied by auditory hallucinations, obsessive thoughts and bouts of déjà vu.

These ongoing psychiatric symptoms may herald further and more severe mental and cognitive disruptions. A number of studies have found connections between neurological infection of Borrelia and learning disabilities, mood swings, depression, personality changes, suicidal tendencies, and increased aggressiveness and violent tendencies.

Attack on the Nervous System

Unfettered, Lyme disease has nearly free reign to saddle sufferers with these many debilitating symptoms. In so many cases, however, the Lyme disease connection is often missed. The neurological, psychiatric and physical symptoms can mimic various other illnesses and conditions throughout the various stages of infection, including Epstein-Barr, Lupus, or even Adrenal Fatigue, presenting a challenge to correct diagnosis. As a result, there are many people who are infected but have never been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and instead suffer from neurological or psychiatric symptoms they may not know come from Lyme disease.

For example, studies have shown that psychiatric in-patients are nearly twice as likely as the average population to test positive for Lyme. The National Institutes of Health are sponsoring a major study of neuropsychiatric Lyme disease in an effort to determine specific changes in the brain.

Conventional Treatment of Lyme Disease

Even if the initial Lyme disease infection is treated, the bacteria can hide in the body and continue to subtly cause chronic Lyme disease symptomsWhen detected early, it is thought that Lyme disease is easily eradicated using a course of oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or doxycycline; indeed, most sufferers often react quite well to treatment, especially in the early stages, with the symptoms of acute Lyme disease disappearing and the patient able to resume their normal life seemingly free of the infection and all its symptoms. However, as mentioned previously, a low level of the Borrelia spirochete bacteria continues to persist in the sufferer’s body, living but often dormant.

Treatment of Lyme disease once the infection is well established and has spread throughout the body is more challenging. Often, a longer course of antibiotics or antibiotics delivered intravenously is used as a stronger mode of treatment. This long-form treatment has also been used against chronic Lyme disease symptoms when they recur after initial treatment. In both use cases, the Lyme disease symptoms tend to show some marginal improvement after treatment; however, complications arise including an increase in allergic reactions.

So why is it so difficult to combat Lyme disease with our current conventional treatment protocols? To illuminate the answer to that, we have to examine how the health of the adrenal glands is tied into the condition.

Adrenal Health and Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms

Adrenal Fatigue and chronic Lyme disease symptoms affect most body systems, making it hard to deal withWe previously discussed how Lyme disease has an effect on adrenal health since Borrelia infection causes chronic stress. This stress forces the adrenal glands to maintain a high level of function for an extended period of time, eventually wearing themselves out and dropping into Adrenal Fatigue.

When the adrenal glands are in a state of fatigue, they are unable to produce and maintain the proper levels of hormones to keep the body at proper homeostatic balance, which tends to generate more stress that forces the adrenals to try to work harder – creating a vicious cycle. Adrenal Fatigue has many nonspecific symptoms as a result of it affecting multiple organ systems throughout the body. This may sound similar to Lyme disease, which is not a stretch, considering that both conditions involve multiple systems in their latter stages. The similarities actually go deeper than this, for example: brain fog, anxiety, migrating pains, insomnia and irritability are all potential symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue and, as discussed, these are also all chronic Lyme disease symptoms.

Now while Lyme disease has the potential to drive stress and push the body into Adrenal Fatigue, the relationship is by no means a one-way street. Since Adrenal Fatigue is a systemic condition as well, the advanced stages of the condition have a marked effect on immune function, opening the door for frequent and recurring infections and increasing susceptibility to illnesses, including Lyme disease. This means the immune system has greater difficulty helping to fight of an initial Lyme infection and crucially, the immune system can be weakened to the point that chronic Lyme disease with Borrelia in its stealth infectious state may be able to stage a comeback and start an active phase of with increased severity of chronic Lyme disease symptoms.

The two conditions interact and strengthen each other in a kind of terrible, malicious synergy; not only do Lyme disease and Adrenal Fatigue feed into and worsen each other, but they share a large area of symptoms overlap. This deep integration of the conditions makes it difficult to tease them apart and tackle them separately, and this has significant repercussions for recovery.

Fighting Chronic Lyme Disease Aggressively – a Lost Cause

Aggressively using antibiotics to try and eradicate the bacteria generally just wears down the body, exacerbating the chronic Lyme disease symptomsReturning to the topic of conventional use of antibiotic courses for Lyme disease treatment, we can begin to understand why perhaps simply piling on more antibiotics for a longer period of time may not be helpful, and may in fact do harm to the body.

First of all, the immune system is weakened by Adrenal Fatigue, meaning that even if ninety-nine point nine percent of the bacteria are eradicated by antibiotics, the immune response won’t be able to finish the job off, allowing Borrelia to live and infect another day. In fact, a clinical study published by Dr. Bart Jan Kullberg and his colleagues at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that there was actually no benefit to using antibiotics to treat chronic Lyme disease.

Their study followed a group of 280 individuals with Lyme disease, some of whom were treated with a standard 2-week antibiotic course, while others continued the antibiotic treatment course for an additional 12 weeks. When comparing both physiological and neurological chronic Lyme Disease symptoms between those who were on a shorter antibiotic course vs those on the extended antibiotic treatment, no significant differences were found. According to study author Kullberg, “This study demonstrates that prolonged antibiotics may not help if you have symptoms after having had Lyme disease.”

Conventional antibiotic treatments simply cannot beat the Borrelia bacteria behind Lyme disease. In acute Lyme disease cases where the bacterial titer is high, antibiotics can help to decimate pathogen population. Once at the level where it enters a stealth infectious mode, however, only the body’s natural defense systems can deal with the constant low level toxic assault. It is important that the body be healthy and energized with adequate nutrition to be able to handle this stealth infection and not become fatigued. Antibiotics do nothing to help this process, and in fact may hinder it, making it utterly unsuited to address chronic Lyme disease symptoms.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, antibiotics are a necessary evil in the modern conventional theory of medicine. Antibiotics don’t just attack bad bacteria and organisms, they are indiscriminate in that any organism or cell that is susceptible will be attacked and die. This includes many populations of good bacteria that make up the human body’s internal microbiome and even some of your own human cells. When our microbiome is off-balance, our immune system is in disarray, and the body thrown into a state of inflammation. This ultimately weakens the body, while allowing the Lyme pathogen to prosper. It should come as no surprise that repeated antibiotic therapy invariably fails in chronic Lyme treatment.

Compounding this is the fact that once the cells and organisms are killed off by the antibiotics, their corpses decompose and become toxic detritus that clogs up the body. This release of toxins from the death of microorganisms is known as a die-off reaction, and this can cause a great deal of stress for the liver and kidneys, which are already overburdened due to the general body-wide slowdown caused by Adrenal Fatigue. Recirculation of such toxins further contributes and triggers a retoxification reaction that can lead to adrenal crashes. Sufferers can be bedridden and incapacitated in severe cases. Of course, the stress on these systems feeds back around to the adrenal stress control center, feeding into a deepening of Adrenal Fatigue.

So we see that aggressive use of antibiotics, far from helping with the body’s health, actually seems to be detrimental and contributes to the negative health spiral formed by Adrenal Fatigue and chronic Lyme disease symptoms when both are present. Recognizing and appreciating this relationship is a critical step if one is to be successful in fighting Lyme disease, because the recovery strategies can be quite different.

If the adrenal glands are weak, time should be taken to nurture them back to health. The adrenal glands need to be healthy in order to support a body that can stand a course of antibiotics, clear out toxic metabolites and deal with die-off reactions effectively. The longer adrenals are not in optimal performance, the weaker the body becomes over time and the harder it is to get on the road to recovery.

Supporting the Adrenals First – the Smart Move

In order to avoid this negative spiral of worsening health, the first step must be recognizing that recurring and chronic Lyme disease symptoms are deeply integrated and entwined with the state of the body’s adrenal health. This understanding is important because it points the way to a successful recovery from symptoms.

Recovering from Adrenal Fatigue and chronic Lyme disease symptoms requires strengthening the body through proper nutrition and lifestyleSince Adrenal Fatigue is an intrinsic condition where the mechanisms for dysfunction come from the inside, the recovery must focus on the body. Proper Adrenal Fatigue recovery is primarily concerned with rebuilding the body’s strength and nutritional reserves so that it has the capacity and energy to power all the different internal systems optimally. This is achieved using a combination of proper diet to avoid stressful foods and provide natural nutrition, nutritional supplementation to round out the body’s needed building blocks, and lifestyle changes to minimize stress and keep the body active but relaxed. Care should be taken not to further place excessive stress by stimulating the body with hormones, herbs, and glandulars that potentially have an excitatory effect on the body.

With respect to Lyme disease, once the adrenal system is back to a functioning level of capacity, it should be able to easily beat back the Borrelia invaders and drive them back into dormancy. The liver, kidneys, microbiome and ECM should also be back up to the job of clearing out the toxins excreted by these remainders. When done properly, the unpleasant chronic Lyme disease symptoms will begin to taper off and decrease in severity as the body’s detoxification and cleansing functions come back into full function.

Supporting the adrenals requires extensive clinical experience in order not to trigger adrenal crashes that give the Lyme pathogen an opportunity to resurge. A comprehensive, slow and steady, personalized approach is needed to gently support adrenal function without crashes. Patience is required – most are quite weak after years of a losing battle against Lyme. It is constantly surprising to note how well a slow and steady approach like this works, much better than the aggressive, single-focus antibiotic approach with chronic Lyme. In many cases, it may not be necessary to directly treat chronic Lyme disease once the adrenals are well supported, because a strong adrenal system will release the necessary anti-inflammatory hormones, such as cortisol, to keep the Lyme pathogen under control. The Lyme resurgence and relapse is self-limiting. As long as the body is kept healthy, chronic Lyme disease should remain below symptomatic levels and unable to bother the host.

It takes patience and a comprehensive plan, but chronic Lyme disease symptoms can be reduced and disappear over time as the body strengthensIt is therefore very important to note that proper recovery from Adrenal Fatigue requires a comprehensive, holistic approach factoring in the adrenal system, with correct timing and patience. Adrenal Fatigue is not contracted in a day; it spends months – even years – developing as the adrenal glands are worn down by chronic stress. As a result, the rebuilding of these reserves takes time as well. Using stimulants and energy boosters are ill advised. While they may have a short-term positive effect, the body soon runs into problems. The liver and kidneys are simply unable to handle proper detox and cleaning duties to metabolize and clear out the extra detritus from energy drinks and stimulants. It’s safe to say that, with respect to Adrenal Fatigue and Lyme disease recovery, slow and steady recovery in the hands of an experienced clinical expert is the way to go.

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Everyone’s body is different. The general rule of thumb is if the immune system is weak then Lyme will have a greater affect on one’s body.


Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms

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53 Comments

  • Susan says:

    This makes so much more sense to me now. Thank you!

  • Michelle says:

    Are probiotics helpful to use during the antibiotic treatment of Lyme Disease?

  • Denver says:

    What is your opinion on IV Hydrosol silver for lyme?

  • jaxyn says:

    Anything I can do to prevent lyme disease from developing?

  • Joshua says:

    Can lyme disease be passed down genetically?

  • Kimberly W. McDonald says:

    Dr. Lam, While I appreciate your thoughtful article, I have to disagree with some of your observations about borrelia (Lyme)… and the use of antibiotics.
    First, the college student you described in the article was likely treated effectively for Lyme disease…but not the inevitable co-infections that present with it. Not many “just” get a strain of Lyme when they are bitten by an infected tick.
    Common co-infections include bartonella and babesia, the latter of which includes symptoms of deja vu and can include hallucinations.
    In other words, the student in your scenario would have been treated with a separate regimen of antibiotics, specifically for babesia, if he was under the care of a qualified Lyme literate doctor (LLMD) and presented with malaria-like symptoms after the fact.
    To disregard the importance of these specifically crafted antibiotic regimens, designed to target different co-infections, is detrimental, and will keep the patient sick–and the adrenals under continual stress. Sometimes the antibiotics can be used concurrently for different co-infections, but sometimes they cannot.
    While it’s true that eventually many patients can stop antibiotic treatment, not all can. Lyme and its many co-infections need to be caught early, not 10 years after the fact–treated for 3 months and then just wistfully turned over to the person’s big guns immune system. Moreover the patient must be free of all symptoms of all co-infections for 2 months before antibiotic removal is even attempted. For some people, that is never. And they must be on one or two antibiotics for life. (Amy Tan is one prominent example: She will never be off “Flagyl.”) And with borrelia being found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients (7 of 10 in one study per Dr. Alan MacDonald), I’d strongly suggest you NOT discourage the use of antibiotics in people with Lyme and co-infections. I have been able to support my adrenals on a full course of antibiotics, without an issue.
    If you want the most current information on Lyme disease, and its connection with adrenals, I’d recommend Dr. Richard Horowitz’s “Why Can’t I Get Better” along with Dr. Marty Ross’s work, among others. Thank you.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Thank you for your input. The use of antibiotic for Lyme is unquestioned when needed. By the time my help is sought, most are weakened by excessive use over long periods of time, probably by non-Lyme literal providers or they have a body that is problematic.

      Dr.Lam

  • Matthew says:

    What is the safest and gentlest way to remove lymes when it’s in a dormant state?

  • Sean says:

    I know that bug repellents can cause a crash, but is avoid Lyme worth it?

  • Janice says:

    Once you have been bitten by a tick how long do you have the initial symptoms for? And how can you differentiate a tick bite versus just having the flu?

  • Robyn Scoma says:

    I have been told by my current medical insurance company/system, that Lyme is not prevelent where I live because only 3% of the ticks tested, actually tested positive. I was diagnosed in 2006 and tested positive to the Western Blot test at the time of treatment, during treatment, after treatment and then again at 6 months after treatment. My doctor at the time told me that it would lie dormant and rear its ugly head from time to time. Jump to the present time, my current doctor believes that all of those tests were false positives and that there is not way I have lyme. 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Disease and a few months ago diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and just last week diagnosed with high blood pressure. I have done the research and feel there is no hope in getting the treatment I need. I cannot afford to go outside of my insurance and pay for the very expensive treatments. I have almost all of the symptoms listed in this article. Any advice you could offer? I am really scared that I will get to a point of immobility and lose more of my cognitive responses.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Sounds like you need to first confirm if indeed you have lyme or not. Testing are expensive and not accurate, sad to say. Finding a lyme literate doctor is key. If you do have chronic lyme then be very careful of aggressive conventional therapy which can often make you worse with your current state.

      Dr Lam

  • May says:

    What is the best way to determine if I have lyme disease?

  • Gretchen Bryan says:

    Dr. Lam,. I have neuro Lyme,. Complete with horrible anxiety and panic, sciatic pain in my legs, inflammation markers, messed up cortisol cycle. What is the best treatment for neuro Lyme? Do you know of any LLMD’s that specialize in this?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      If your problem is chronic and you are weak, the best is to allow the body the tools to fight for itself. Supporting the adrenals are helpful.

      Dr Lam

  • aurelie says:

    Hi Dr. Lam. Can lyme disease be spread from dog to owner or vice versa from ticks?

  • Shasha says:

    Acupuncture stimulated my adrenals and caused PTSD/panic attacks. I currently have Lyme. The hospital took away my thyroid medicine/vitamins/good oils/minerals/Vit B12 methylcobalamin shot/bioidentical hormones and said I didn’t need it or Mg which Lyme and antibiotics/gluten lower….but I needed all of this so it burned out my adrenals and I ended up in ICU. They attacked me for taking supplements etc..loving Alternative medicine and said be careful what you say. You may have to say it to the judge. They destroyed my brain/body/burned out my right adrenal and hurt my bones. It took me 2 months to heal my brain with a daily Vit B12 shot and 1 1/2 months to heal my bones with my Osteoprocare drink/minerals/Vit B12 shot/bioidentical hormones. My right adrenal is still not ok. I raised progesterone to try to let it make cortisol when needed instead of taking cortisol which I tried 3X, but prolonged used of it hurts the body etc.. I still had Lyme/coinfections when I came out of the hospital and didn’t know it, but symptoms came back. Raising the progesterone helps the immune system which is awesome and ozone/AL complex/cryptolepis/herbs/Far Infrared Sauna and more help. To me a person can’t get rid of Lyme until they help the adrenals/raise progesterone and do the Celiac diet which helps the immune system. No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO…taking vitamins/good oils/minerals…probiotic…LDN..detoxing. LDN helps my adrenals and every cell and helps my immune system. LDN helps block hidden gluten.

    • Wendy says:

      What is LDN?
      I live in Australia and the powers-that-be don’t believe our ticks can trigger Lyme disease. Sigh.
      I have enough symptoms to suspect Lyme disease is the problem.

  • Christine says:

    What happens in older age to those with Lyme?
    For example, when a person recovers and heals from adrenal fatigue and Lyme symptoms resolve without treatment for Lyme disease, but then in older age when one slows down, do the Lyme symptoms come back?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      It all depends. The general concept is that if the immune system is weak, resurgence is highly probable, but it may not present as an acute infectious process.

      Dr Lam

  • Randy says:

    Hello, I have a question.
    Can these same symptoms, of lyme disease, be found in dogs as well?
    Also, can this disease be contracted from flees as well?
    Thank you,
    Randy.

    • Shasha says:

      Any thing that bites may have infections in them. Lyme usually also have coinfections with it. Ozone is awesome help…can’t become resistant to it. It raises oxygen which kills bacteria. The acupuncturist may find a way to help a pet with Lyme also with ozone etc.

  • Helen says:

    Thank you for providing more insight on Lyme Disease! I found this information very helpful in what I’m dealing with.

  • Nick says:

    what is the distinction between Acute and Chronic Lymes- at what point dose Lymes disease cross from Acute into Chronic?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      When you repeatedly fail to get well after antibiotics and the condition worsen, that is when you cross into chronic.

      Dr Lam

  • Christa says:

    Is Lyme Disease something I will have to suffer from for the rest of my life?

  • Gayla says:

    Thank you for this article. It is clear that my 12 yr MS diagnosis, and my 2 yr old Lyme disease diagnose is being complicated more with Adrenal fatigue. I have all the documentation, yrs of treatment ( antibiotics, herbals +++ ) and getting pieces to the puzzle (this article helped) only to be deferred” again due to lack of knowledge, resources .?
    My question is where/ who can really help with this specific condition that understands? I’m getting closer to pinpointing, only nobody to help!

    • Dr.Lam says:

      AFS is not a recognized medical condition, and experienced clinician is the key in order to fully evaluate you. We do have a telephone coaching program if you need more help if you cannot find someone close to you.

      Dr Lam

  • Kimberly says:

    Is it possible to have Lyme’s Disease even if no physical manifestation of rashes are present?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Yes.

      Dr Lam

      • Paula says:

        If there are no rashes, how can you determine if you have Lyme’s Disease?

        • Dr.Lam says:

          Not all lyme has rashes. Laboratory test is another indicator, but the problem is most people dont think of lyme without the classic signs , so you have to ask your doctor to do.

          Dr Lam

        • Shasha says:

          Zyto scan/electrodermal testing may help show the Lyme. Lyme makes my skin like watery jello and gut lining hurts and brain can’t think. Ozone treatments are great help…could think clearly afterwards and glycation stopped. I can eat more sugar/starch now. See my other comments. Best wishes.

  • Rhonda says:

    Are there any natural compounds that repel ticks?

  • Andrea says:

    Hi Dr Lam.

    Is African Tick Bite Fever similar to Lyme disease?

    I live near Johannesburg in South Africa, and the past 2 years have been a struggle both mentally and physically. Prolonged work stress led to nervous breakdowns in August and October 2014 and again in March 2015, and I was only diagnosed with Major Depression. I had two weeks leave after each breakdown.

    Over the Easter weekend last year, while we were on a break at a game farm, I found a tick biting me, the bite didn’t get any worse than a small pimple and it healed quickly. Since then I have literally had all the symptoms you have described above. I also often have days of continual dizzy spells that feel like surges of electricity going through my head. There are days when they come every minute or so and then there are days when they only occur once or twice. A brain MRI showed nothing was wrong. I also have had continuous tinnitus since 2010.

    About a month ago I found another tick on me, which probably came from my husband after he had been on a trip to Swaziland. He had quite a bad tick bite and tick bite fever, but never found the tick on him. Again, I never got feverish or sick.

    I was on temporary disability leave from April to July last year, and after that I got a half day job. This month I started a new full day position, and have been struggling with fatigue again. I feel weak all the time and all my muscles are in spasm. I am afraid of having another breakdown as then I probably won’t be able to work at all, which will have a huge financial and emotional impact.

    I know I definitely have adrenal fatigue, but if I have bacteria from the tick bites, what can I do to recover?

    • Andrea says:

      P.S.

      I am on Trazadone, Duloxitine and Metformin.

      Andrea

    • Dr.Lam says:

      African tick bite fever is a separate entity caused by Rickettsia africae and tends to be a milder illness, with less prominent rash and little tendency
      to progress to complicated disease. It is different from Lyme. If you have AFS currently, conventional medicine would focus on the infectious agent, but naturally oriented doctor would tend to favor preparing the body first with supporting the adrenals etc until you are strong so when you use anti-biotic, it can be more effective and less chances of chronic infection. Click Stealth Infection & Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome for more information. Because each person is different, a personalized approach is needed, and you have to be very patient as it is a process that cannot be hurried up.

      Dr Lam

  • Heather says:

    What are ways to preventing getting Lyme Disease?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Best is to avoid exposure to the tick. If you live in infested area, it is hard. Have your doctor check if you have any symptoms and take early action .

      Dr Lam

  • Melissa says:

    Other than buying books, as I don’t have the energy to even read one let alone follow recipes and such, is there a treatment center or other help or clinical trials—something, anything—that can nudge me towards better health? I currently have many other serious and rare diseases that prevent me from eating successfully. That’s a huge problem for me. I’ve intussusception, nausea with some vomitting and keeping food down is a struggle. I also have some serious lower back issues ranging from desiccated discs to stenosis to Facet Arthropathy included with my DDD dx. I stopped my pain meds recently making life excruciating, especially with the extreme fatigue. Additionally, I’ve a pretty large Tarlov cyst at S2 and I’m facing a back surgery soon. I’m lately experiencing many problems with elimination as well, feeling like I can’t fully empty my bladder, yet sometimes having bouts of incontinance, additionally, not being able to have a BM for weeks at a time despite using stool softeners, milk of magnesia, olive oil with lemon juice and drinking “Green” or “Blue Machine” fruit only smoothies veggies and salads. With the increase in pain I’m unable to relax back muscles enough to push effectively. I have lately experienced fluctuations in my blood pressure ranging from 80/40 to 190+/120 (this was documented during a recent hospital stay and was I sometimes wasn’t even allowed to take certain meds because my BP was too low or too high), also, my brain is affected and I’ve experienced some heart issues as well (tachycardia, pounding that feels like it takes my breath away or its crushing my lungs “beating out of my chest” making it visibly move and medical professionals are telling me it’s difficult to find my pulse at times). I’ve lost strength in my legs, have huge memory gaps, trouble finding words or tracking during conversations and lately have been so frustrated it’s been hard to control mood swings and feeling despondent enough I contemplate suicide. I’ve fought that off for the last 7 years thinking only about my kids and what that would do to them. I can’t imagine what they endure now is much better though. Sleeping is a MAJOR problem as I’ve slept about an hour a night from April 8, 2016 to present. Before that I’d been prescribed Trazadone in hospital this March and it worked about a month. I’ve also had major bleeding trouble—bleeding 6 to 8 months or more at a time—nonstop for the past few years. My life has been reduced to nothing and stuck in bed for years now and even though I need it and have asked for the past four years for help, from everyone from church to my case managers, I never get any other help than my daughter who is in her mid twenties who comes about once a month traveling over 100m to help with laundry, dishes and store runs, etc. I’m grateful I’ve got at least that, but it isn’t fair to her and it isn’t enough or adequate for me. I’m to the point I’m not able to get to the bathroom without great effort, pain, raising my BP and heart rate significantly. Despite my Lyme DX, my current PCP does nothing for it claiming all my pain and issues stem from fibromyalgia (even said that about my gut issues which turned out to be intussusception and even after getting my recent MRI results showing all the spinal damage!). My pain disagreed with that and after much discussion and me physically showing him the report he did say I should have the back surgery and it would likely help. I can’t imagine the increased pain I will have to endure for that and don’t feel I am even up to the challenge of such surgery even though I’m glad it might help. After years of realizing my condition has been fast deteriorating things look and feel hopeless, especially as I have lost over 125 pounds without trying and with no exercise (15+ was lost just last month) and not been able to keep enough food in me to maintain my weight for more than a month or two. If I sometimes feel a bit better it doesn’t last long and I tank fast. On disability, I can’t afford a meal program (which I probably couldn’t eat anyway) or specialized medical care. I was even denied access to a skilled nursing facility after my hospital stay, which was recommended by the doctors at the hospital, by my insurance. I’m a fall risk and use a wheelchair if I need to visit a doctor (excruciating to use). I’ve fallen 3 times this year already just trying to get from one side of my room to the other and fell down a flight of stairs despite using the handrail and taking precautions (I rent a room at a friend’s house on the 2nd level). I feel trapped, unable to do anything about it. Is there any hope for recovery in my situation?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Thanks for taking the time to write. I can see your frustration, disappointment, and daily struggles. The body does have self healing properties, if not too damaged. Continue your search for the right doctor who can see you from a holistic perspective, and used both natural and conventional approach to give you the best care possible is key. I know it is easier said than done, but do not give up hope.

      Dr Lam

    • Shasha says:

      See my other comments. Dairy may cause bladder issues and gluten bowel/gut issues. See what I did in the other comments. Best wishes.

    • Barbara Murphy says:

      Melissa
      I can’t offer any advice but do send you lots of sympathy. You are amazing to have made it this far and I wish you the brightest thoughts of recovering at least some semblance of your health. Stick with it girl, you can win out!