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Thursday 20 February 2020

I want to talk about Lyme Disease: Conventional Treatment

How to treat Lyme Disease
Classic Bulls Eye Rash

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional however these posts are based on my personal experience/knowledge as I have had to become my own medical advocate as it is so, so difficult to get help for this illness. 

If you see the classic bulls eye rash or see a tick burrowed into your body, believe it or not, you're lucky because a doctor will have to treat you as there is no denying the presence of either (although some ignorant doctors might try to dismiss the rash as ringworm!). You will be prescribed antibiotics - probably doxycycline, and you must insist that you get at least a 4 week prescription at a minimum as this is the life cycle of a spirochete. 

Doxycycline will generally make you feel a lot worse as the die off causes a Herxheimer reaction. It is very important to listen to your body - rest, if you feel up to a short walk do it but don't push your body, eat as cleanly as possible and drink plenty of water. The first time I took doxycycline for a few weeks, I honestly felt so much worse that I was tempted to stop it as the treatment was worse than the illness but I persevered.

If your Lyme is not caught early then 4 weeks of doxy will not cut it. At this stage, there is the option of IV antibiotics (although very difficult to get in Ireland or the U.K. unless you are paying privately). I travelled to the private clinic in Germany where I was originally diagnosed for IV Ceftriaxione and I also had IV vitamin infusions and my gallbladder was flushed and regularly monitored as it can cause sludge or stones but, fortunately, that didn't happen for me. Unfortunately, however, I developed an allergic reaction to the drugs on day 10 and had to switch to oral medication and come home. 

Some Consultants prescribe long-term antibiotics - I have been on 3/4 at a time for periods of 6/8 and 22 months. These are not without their side effects and, again, sometimes leave you wondering if the cure is worse than the illness. It's important to stay as positive and focused as possible when going through hell and feeling worse than ever. In my case, none were successful in terms of blood test results or in how I felt.

Like I said in an earlier post, each case is individual. What works for one will not necessarily work for another. I know of some people who have recovered after using antibiotics long term so please do not let this post put you off if you are about to start, or mid-way through your treatment. This is just my story. 

I was prescribed Beta Blockers for six months - not for Lyme but for hemiplegic migraines, which I developed as a result of having Lyme. They made me feel quite irritable and dizzy initially but my body got used to them and they definitely helped because I had previously been having the migraines a number of times weekly whereas now, it's just a few times a year.

Finally, there is LDN - low dose naltrexone, which is not specifically known to treat Lyme, however it does help with pain and the treatment of autoimmune diseases. It's also used to treat alcohol/opiate addictions but don't let that scare you. Again, I will repeat that I am not a doctor, but my understanding of the use of LDN is that it increases endorphin release, which modulates an immune response. In terms of reducing pain, it acts as an anti-inflammatory. Generally, you start on a very low dose, which is gradually increased. It took months to get the dose right for me but when we did, the difference in my pain was like night and day - I used to have bone pain, nerve pain, just pain in general, all over and was never comfortable, whether sitting, standing, lying - I was just in a case of constant pain so LDN was life-changing for me. The only real side effect that I experienced from it was sleep disturbance so although the advice was to take it between 9pm and 1am, I started to take it in the mornings instead, which helped. LDN is an inexpensive drug, which is worth asking your doctor about if you suffer from chronic pain.

Thanks for reading! 

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