Lyme Disease (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
The earlier antibiotic treatment is started after infection, the faster and more completely you will recover. Treatment may be especially effective for those who live in high-risk areas.
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated until later problems arise, it may take you a long time to get better or you may need additional treatment.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, are usually helpful for symptoms of arthritis that can occur with late Lyme disease. These symptoms may include pain, swelling, redness, warmth, and limitation of movement.
Some people with untreated Lyme disease get achy joints. Sometimes, repeated episodes of swelling, redness, and fluid buildup in one or more joints can last up to 6 months at a time. This is a condition called chronic Lyme arthritis. Treatment for this problem usually requires antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or doxycycline. But joints that have been badly damaged by Lyme arthritis may take a long time to get better, or antibiotics may not improve symptoms. If chronic Lyme arthritis continues despite antibiotic treatment, surgery to remove the lining of the affected joint (synovectomy) may be considered.
Long-term antibiotics are also commonly used to treat nervous system problems (such as tingling and numbness or conditions such as meningitis). But a number of examinations and tests may be done to rule out other causes of symptoms before more aggressive or long-term antibiotic treatment is started.
People with partial facial paralysis as a result of Lyme disease may improve on their own without additional treatment.
Antibiotics and other treatments are used to help people who develop serious heart problems, such as severe irregular heartbeat or pericarditis, from Lyme disease that was left untreated or was not treated effectively. But these problems are extremely rare, especially in people who did not have heart problems before getting Lyme disease. Heart problems may start getting better on their own, even before antibiotic treatment has started.
In the past, a Lyme disease vaccination was available for people who lived in high-risk areas, but the vaccine is no longer made. It was removed from the market due to uncertainty over its effectiveness and lack of demand.
What To Think About
Most people who have had a tick bite do not get Lyme disease. But it is still important to talk to your doctor if you have had a tick attached to you.
Even after successful treatment for Lyme disease, you can get it again. So it is important to continue to protect yourself against tick bites.
The type of antibiotic your doctor gives you and the number of days you take it depends on your symptoms and the stage of the disease. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotic treatment.
Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease is common, especially if you do not have the characteristic circular red rash. In addition, anxiety and awareness of Lyme disease has resulted in frequent use of antibiotic treatment for people who really do not need it. In general, antibiotics are not usually needed unless it is clear you have Lyme disease.
In some rare cases, severe joint and nervous system damage cannot be reversed.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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