Lyme disease is an increasingly popular topic in the health and wellness community, but it is particularly relevant during tick season, mid-May through November. Known as the “Silent Epidemic,” there are approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease reported by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) annually. However, the CDC also notes that around 476,000 people are treated for Lyme each year, according to insurance claims.
Given that nearly half a million people annually are treated for this condition, why is there still a lack of education as well as diagnostic and treatment resources for people dealing with this condition?
Lyme Disease can be Difficult to Diagnose
Lyme disease is primarily caused by the bite of a black-legged tick, also called a deer tick, which transmits the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi into the bloodstream.
Upon infection, some patients may develop a “bull’s eye” rash, a circular red rash centered around the bite that is also referred to as erythema migrans (EM). Anyone who experiences this symptom should seek medical attention immediately in order to receive a full course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are critical immediately after infection as they can prevent chronic Lyme from developing (this will be explained below). However, at least 30% of people exposed to Lyme disease do not develop this rash, which means many may become infected and not even know it.
Once the Borrelia bacteria has entered the body, this spirochete is able to hide itself from the body’s immune system while wreaking havoc on bodily systems as it attacks tissues and later triggers an inflammatory response. In this way, although a chronic infection, Lyme disease mirrors many autoimmune conditions because not only is the spirochete bacteria attacking the body, the body is also triggered to attack itself.
This results in a wide range of symptoms including:
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
- Bloating & digestive issues
- Mood swings & instability
Symptoms that persist past the initial course of antibiotics, such as those listed above, are classified as chronic Lyme cases (the CDC refers to chronic Lyme as posttreatment Lyme-disease syndrome). Approximately 20% of those infected with Borrelia bacteria develop chronic Lyme disease. In 2018, some estimates suggested there were more than 1 million Americans with chronic Lyme.
Although there are so many cases of chronic Lyme in the United States alone, because Lyme disease mirrors other inflammatory conditions, many Lyme patients remain un or misdiagnosed.
Standard Testing Misses Over 90% of Chronic Lyme Cases
Standard blood tests for Lyme disease are often inaccurate, especially when testing occurs soon after transmission. This is in part because the guidelines around a “positive test” are hard to solidify. The CDC identifies a positive Lyme diagnosis as at least five out of ten total markers from a standard blood test. This means that someone could be exhibiting the three most common markers and still not be diagnosed with Lyme.
Lyme Disease Is Not Covered By Health Insurance
Moreover, even those who test positive, treatment is rarely covered by health insurance because of CDC guidelines. The CDC states that Lyme disease can be treated with 30 days of antibiotics, so the majority of insurance companies do not recognize chronic Lyme disease as a legitimate illness and will not pay for long-term treatment.
Getting The Care You Deserve
Luckily, more doctors and patients alike are becoming increasingly educated on Lyme disease and viewing it as a chronic condition that requires individualized and comprehensive treatment.
Holtorf Medical Group was founded with this understanding as Dr. Holtorf is a chronic Lyme patient himself that fought for years to receive adequate treatment. His practice includes a team of experienced and knowledgeable physicians that are dedicated to uncovering the root cause of your symptoms and improving your quality of life. As our team utilizes cutting-edge treatments such as ozone therapy, peptide therapy, and more, 94% of Holtorf Medical Group patients experience overall improvement by their fourth visit.
If you are experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease or if you have been previously diagnosed, but aren’t getting the treatment you need, call us at 844-844-2981 to see how we can help you!