Lyme Disease and Fatigue

by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

I’m sure that you’ve heard a lot about Lyme disease and how it can affect our bodies. Let’s explore more about this disease and what it might mean for you. Low-grade Lyme disease is very persistent and can exist in your body for years without being diagnosed. It usually is associated with the symptoms of feeling extremely tired and chronic fatigue. This is an important topic because the occurrence of Lyme disease has spread rapidly (it’s been identified in nearly all the U.S. states). And to compound the matter, it is frequently undiagnosed even after specific tests have been given to detect the disease. The actual diagnosis of Lyme disease if very difficult and is still even not well accepted in the medical community.

There are a variety of tests that have been developed to detect Lyme disease in humans, but vague or false results are commonly seen with the usual Lyme titers and also with the Western blot test. An increased sensitive test, called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, is available in a few areas. The PCR test will identify the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that is present in the Lyme bacteria. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is growing in its use and availability. However, PCR remains a research technique, in part because laboratories performing PCR tests must be meticulous in technique to minimize the likelihood of false-positive results

However; this only indicates if you have the Lyme bacteria in the present. If the test is negative it is certain that you do not have Lyme now. In addition, the test has not yet been standardized for regular diagnosis.

In addition, there is another confusing feature about Lyme disease. It is that although most cases respond quite well to antibiotic treatment, some symptoms might continue or recur in a few of the treated patients; and this would require additional antibiotic treatment. In some cases, a patient might develop ongoing chronic symptoms and might have permanent damage to the joints and nervous system. Some scientists speculate that treatment with specific antibiotics might even improve the survival of the Lyme bacterium, under certain conditions in some patients. This is why, if you suspect that you might have been infected with Lyme disease, it’s very important that you to contact a health-care professional who is familiar with the symptoms, the testing, and the treatment of this disease.

The good news is that you can make a full recovery from these infections (diseases such as Lyme disease and the Epstein–Barr virus) that deplete your energy. It might take a long time, even if you think you feel much better following your initial diagnosis and treatment course. We’ll talk more in other articles about immunologically–mediated symptom “constellation” conditions, such as these, that have symptoms of fatigue as a major side-effect. For now, suffice it to say that while we do not have all the answers (these conditions are complex), research continues and there is hope. Hang in there and continue to create your healthy lifestyle and take care of the most important person—you!

For more information, please see our more comprehensive articles on fatigue.