Persistent or chronic Lyme disease occurs if an individual treated with antibiotics continues to experience symptoms. A small percentage of individuals who have been treated using antibiotics end up with persistent symptoms even after therapy has been finished. These symptoms include joint or muscle ache, fatigue and cognitive issues that can last for 6 months or longer.
It is not known why some individuals develop chronic Lyme disease while others do not. It is also unclear regarding the exact cause of the symptoms. The doctor will treat the condition based on the specific case of the individual.
What are the reasons of chronic Lyme disease?
This is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. An individual can acquire the infection if bitten by a tick that carries the bacteria particularly deer ticks and black-legged ticks.
Many individuals with the disease are successfully treated using a course of antibiotics that last for 14-21 days. In most cases, there is rapid and full recovery from the condition.
It is still unclear why some individuals do not completely recover from the symptoms after treatment. Some consider that the disease impairs the immune system and tissues in which it continues to react to the infection even if the bacteria have been eliminated, thus resulting to the symptoms.
An individual is at higher risk for chronic Lyme disease if infected by a carrier tick. Once the disease progresses to the chronic phase, the symptoms can persist for weeks, months or even years.
The individual is also at high risk for long-term symptoms if not treated using the recommended antibiotics but those who have been given antibiotics are also at risk.
What are the indications?
Essentially, the indications of chronic Lyme disease are somewhat similar to those that manifest in the earlier phases of the diseases. Individuals who experience insistent symptoms often suffer from lingering episodes of the following:
- Restless sleep
- Sore joints or muscles
- Speech issues
- Diminished short-term memory or concentration difficulties
- Swelling or pain in the shoulders, knee, elbows and other large joints in the body
Once the disease is diagnosed at its early phase, the ideal treatment involves a course of oral antibiotics for 2-3 weeks. The commonly used medications include amoxicillin, doxycycline and cefuroxime. Other types of antibiotics or intravenous treatment might be needed depending on the condition of the individual and other present symptoms.