Caught early, Lyme Disease is usually a short-term health issue. So what’s the big deal when Lyme goes unrecognized and untreated for weeks, months, or years? Here are just a very few points to consider.
- physical, mental, and emotional suffering — and yes, even death
- lost wages and lost productivity when people can’t work because they are ill
- life savings, retirement funds, and home equity spent by individuals and entire families on treatment often not covered by insurance
- countless missed opportunities for children unable to go to class, sustain friendships, or participate in life events from scouts and field trips to first dates, prom, and graduation
- the heartbreak of young adults missing out on launching their careers, attending friends’ weddings, or enjoying romantic relationships of their own
- babies suffering from Lyme transmitted to them from their mother in utero
To make matters worse, the medical community is divided by controversy. Even doctors can have the wrong information. That’s where Lyme Literate doctors come in. But they are few in numbers and their invaluable training and expertise is not available in many parts of the U.S. and the world.
This infection can impact every system in the human body. And the illness isn’t usually sparked by just Lyme bacteria; one tick can transmit a number of nasty things. That’s why you’ll hear the term “tick-borne illness” instead of Lyme more and more.
Lyme Disease is a growing health threat everywhere. In the U.S. alone, some 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease each year according to a new estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But that’s just a preliminary estimate; research is underway to refine the numbers, with the expectation that the actual number is much higher. Reports of Lyme continue to rise across the globe.
Generally not a big deal when diagnosed and treated right after a tick transmits the infection, Lyme left untreated, known as chronic or persistent Lyme, is another story.
A frightening story, as told by many sufferers including science writer Paula Weintraub in her book Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic. Check out her article “Why You Should be Afraid of Lyme Disease” here.
Lyme and other infections spread by ticks can lead to myriad devastating symptoms, both mental and physical. The longer the bacteria roam the body, the more entrenched they become—and the longer it can take for treatment to improve your health. A recent survey indicated that quality of life for chronic Lyme patients can be worse than that of people with other serious illnesses like diabetes or congestive heart failure.
Incredible but true: There’s so much misinformation about Lyme that countless people aren’t getting treated soon enough to avoid the nightmare of chronic Lyme, even though it’s treatable.
People are told so many things erroneously:
“You didn’t see a tick bite or get a bull’s-eye rash along with other symptoms so you aren’t infected.” The truth? As many a half the people diagnosed never saw a tick; many more never got the rash.
Or, “You can’t have Lyme, it doesn’t exist in our area” — when in fact Lyme does occur where they live.
Or, “Your test is negative, so you don’t have Lyme.” Lyme testing is imperfect; a negative test result doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no Lyme infection.
If you’ve had any of these experiences, it would be great to hear from you in the comments section below. People from more than 100 countries have visited this site. We can all learn from each other.
Chronic Lyme can be prevented if you get proper treatment right after a tick bite. But people –including doctors–have just got to have the right information.
That’s why I’m committed to learning all I can to help get the word out. I hope you are, too.
- Share your comments on this site, which has a virtual Lyme community made up of people from more than 100 countries.
- Share what you know in the community where you live.
- Learn more by exploring the headings at the top of this page and the category selection on the right.
- Get the latest news and research by following LifeLoveLyme on Facebook and Twitter.