Dear Pharmacist: My life’s never been the same since 2004. Overnight, I developed arthritis, vertigo, headaches and fatigue. I used to run every day! I’ve been to 10 doctors for never-ending symptoms too embarrassing to list. Last week, I fell in love with you Suzy because you wrote about “Lyme Disease” and I looked it up. It explains my life. I called my doctor, but she said Lyme isn’t common here, and dismissed me, so I’m stuck now. Can you offer guidance? — S.N., Chicago
A: You’re not “stuck,” there are many Lyme literate medical doctors (LLMDs) in our country, and here are three people who educate: Dr. Lee Cowden, Dr. Joseph Burrascano and Stephen Harrod Buhner; each has a different viewpoint. The controversy surrounding Lyme is latched on tighter than a tick.
Lyme is frequently dismissed or misdiagnosed, leaving you sick, tired and eventually disabled. It mimics multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, parkinson’s, ALS, alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and epilepsy, so it’s hard to pin down. Bummer, because if you’re diagnosed incorrectly, precious antimicrobials needed to kill Lyme bugs are never taken, leading to potentially catastrophic problems. I’m not being melodramatic — ask any Lyme sufferer! No two patients have the same symptoms, which come and go: Chronic pain, exhaustion, brain fog, poor memory, insomnia, yeast infections, twitches, trigeminal neuralgia, anxiety, back/neck pain, neuropathy, migraines, dizziness, muscle/joint pain, cramps, bladder or testicular pain, urethritis, buzzing, sound sensitivity, eye or ear pain, air hunger and irregular heartbeat. That’s for starters.
Don’t assume there has to be a tick bite, followed by a bullseye rash. That rash only occurs in 50 percent of people, and most won’t ever see a tick, some of which are the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Besides, ticks are not the only way to get infected. Lyme is carried by fleas, biting flies, lice, mosquitoes and dust mites. Kissing or having sex with someone who has Lyme may cause transmission. Some people carry Lyme even though they’re asymptomatic and well. Oh, and it can remain dormant for months to years.
If you have a long history of health issues, with symptoms that change daily or monthly, but never go away, I’d seriously consider Lyme testing by a lab that specializes in it, for example Galaxy, Igenex, Fry or Advance Labs. Inaccurate results by regular labs may produce a false negative, so you think you don’t have Lyme when you do. Years of misery could ensue. The medical disparity between testing labs is unfathomable, so I urge you to test using one of my suggested labs. They’re expensive, but worth it.
Don’t assume Lyme infection is caused only by Borellia burgdorferi, because other co-infecting organisms such as Babesia, Rickettsia, Bartonella or Ehrlichia could be behind your symptoms. My recommended labs are better at detecting those bugs. Finally, the “CD57” blood test offers a clue, and tracks your progress, and I recommend LabCorp for that particular test. Visit www.ilads.org for more Lyme information.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For more information about Suzy Cohen, visit her website at www.suzycohen.com.