Coping with Chronic Lyme Disease: Options for Symptom Relief

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Coping with Chronic Lyme Disease: Options for Symptom Relief

chronic lyme disease

Chronic Lyme.

Chronic Lyme Syndrome.

Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).

People use different names, but they all describe a controversial and often-confusing set of symptoms that patients can experience following a Lyme infection. 

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. These bacteria are typically carried by ticks, which makes Lyme disease a tick-borne infection. Usually, Lyme disease can be treated with a prompt and timely course of antibiotics, but sometimes the symptoms can last longer. Some scientists refer to this as chronic Lyme disease (CLD).

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Below are common symptoms of Lyme disease:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Neurological complaints like numbness, tremor or Bell’s palsy
  • Memory loss

The severity of these symptoms can range from mild achiness to complete debilitation.

What causes chronic Lyme disease (CLD)?

Any chronic disease is one that lingers over time without every truly going away. Some scientists believe that CLD develops when the patient’s initial Lyme infection isn’t treated adequately. Inappropriate treatment causes the disease to progress, becoming more severe and difficult to treat. 

Others describe CLD as symptoms like fatigue and joint or muscle pain that linger after the standard 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotic therapy. 

To add to the controversy, some practitioners in the medical community do not feel Lyme is a chronic condition at all.

Another difficulty with chronic Lyme is that it mimics other diseases. Clinicians are often hard-pressed to determine which came first and where to focus treatment.  For example, are you more at risk to develop Chronic Fatigue Syndrome because you had a serious Lyme infection or would the Chronic Fatigue have happened anyway?  Regardless of the source, patients with the symptoms described above do benefit from therapy.

How is chronic Lyme disease (CLD) treated?

Most patients being treated for CLD will be on some type of antibiotic regimen: long term, cycling, or combination therapy.  The goal of antibiotic therapy is to get rid of all stages of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. 

Other therapies are used to:

  • boost the immune system
  • alleviate fatigue
  • support the hormone systems

Many patients with CLD have altered levels of cortisol, sex hormones and thyroid hormone.  Treatment is often complex and treatment goals can be moving targets since hormone levels fluctuate.

Vitamins and Supplements

Here, we discussed vitamins and supplements that are used to help boost the immune system and fight fatigue.  In addition, patients with a semi-permanent intravenous line (also called a pic line) may be receiving vitamin infusions and/or injections. 

Methylcobalamin (Vitamin B-12) and Myer’s cocktail are common vitamin preparations used for Lyme patients.  The beauty of custom-compounded medications is the ability to create a dose or combination that is unique to each patient’s needs.

Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

LDN is often prescribed for patients with autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), Lupus, Crohn’s, and Lyme disease.  In very low doses (1.5mg to 4.5 mg at bedtime), naltrexone encourages the body to produce more endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural chemicals that help boost the immune system.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

HRT is often prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of low levels of hormones. There are a variety of HRT options, including estrogens that help with night sweats and thyroid hormone.

Lyme patients may also be deficient in Testosterone and DHEA.  Please don’t take this to mean a little testosterone is a cure for Lyme disease.  It is not.  Hormone replacement or supplementation can help in certain situations, but it is not a substitute for actual Lyme therapies.

Patients with CLD often have symptoms of adrenal fatigue.  In a patient with a normal immune system, prescribers may offer temporary supplementation with cortisol to help a patient’s adrenal glands get back on track.  However, patients with CLD may not be candidates for treatment with cortisol since it could further affect the immune system’s response.  Cortisol is a very important hormone that regulates our ability for “fight or flight”.  It allows us to function in stressful situations, but under chronic stress it eventually gets depleted and we feel extreme fatigue and an inability to cope. 

Practitioners will work hard to treat the underlying cause of the chronic illness and the patient must be willing to make necessary lifestyle changes and use vitamins and supplements to support the adrenals and immune system.

Where can I get treatment for chronic Lyme disease?

The knowledgeable pharmacists at The Compounding Center are experienced in dealing with the common therapies needed to improve your health.  We understand the frustrations that occur with diagnosis, finding a Lyme-literate practitioner and getting appropriate therapy. 

Give us a call to discuss therapies that may work for your chronic Lyme.

Call The Compounding Center at 703-779-3301 to discuss chronic Lyme disease.