Treating chronic Lyme disease can be challenging. Even getting a successful diagnosis can be tough; many doctors aren’t well-versed in Lyme, and misdiagnosis rates for the chronic form of the disease are extremely high. It’s hard to know exactly how many cases of the disorder go undiagnosed every year. It doesn’t help that chronic Lyme is a disorder that is considered to be ‘controversial’ by many. While it is not outright denied by official bodies like the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it is not legitimised either, making it an unusual grey area in the vast spectrum of medical conditions. There is no standard treatment path for chronic Lyme, as every case is different. However, one thing that can help the majority of patients is a PICC-line.
PICC stands for ‘peripherally inserted central catheter’. These instruments take the form of long, thin, hollow tubes that are inserted in to a patient’s arm, before being advanced through the veins, towards the heart. The positioning of the catheter tip is confirmed by X-ray, with the desired end point being the superior vena cava or cavoatrial junction. They are an intravenous line, used in the administration of various medications over a long-term period, and can remain in situ for months at a time. A PICC-line makes administration of antibiotics, drugs and other procedures like blood draws much more efficient for both patients and medical staff. Instead of requiring a brand-new insertion site every time a patient returns to the hospital, doctors and nurses can simply hook up the line to patient’s PICC, and begin the process immediately.
PICC-lines are routinely used during intensive and ongoing treatments, where patients are scheduled for many rounds of sessions. But doctors are finding they can also be advantageous with the treatment of chronic Lyme disease. It is important to bear in mind that chronic Lyme is a malleable disease that presents with varying symptoms for each patient. While acute Lyme is often uniform in its flu-like symptoms, chronic Lyme is a different story. That’s because there are two processes causing symptoms in the chronic form.
The first is the infection, caused by the borrelia bacteria, transferred via tick bite. This is the foreign invasion aspect of the condition; the pathogen can stay in a person’s system for years, and the longer it’s left there, the more adaptable and resistant it becomes. In response to this bacteria that it just can’t eradicate, the immune system kicks into overdrive. This can cause a number of issues for patients, but primarily manifests as joint aches, muscle pain, stiffness and chronic fatigue. In some cases, patients can develop further neurological symptoms or cardiovascular issues. These symptoms often mimic other diseases, which is why misdiagnosis rates are so high. The extent to which chronic Lyme affects a person’s system is very hard to quantify on an individual basis, but a crucial first step in the treatment process is figuring out the ratio of infection vs. inflammation. They are undoubtedly two parts of the same condition, but must be treated separately if the overall treatment is going to see success.
BCA-clinic are experts in the field of chronic Lyme, and know how important it is to separate infection from inflammation. Their in-house test, the LymeSpot, is designed to do just that, letting doctors know the level of each present in that particular patient. Treatment paths can then be adjusted accordingly. Inflammation symptoms are then treated with a combination of nutritional therapy and natural supplements, while infection is tackled with antibiotics. Most doctors will prescribe antibiotics and nothing else when attempting to treat chronic Lyme. While this may clear up the infection, it will not ease the inflammation symptoms. In its haywire state, the immune system can react to even the smallest trace of borrelia in the system, so a two-pronged approach is always necessary when it comes to chronic Lyme disease.
A PICC-line can greatly help with the administration of antibiotics. Lyme is a severe infection that may require many rounds of treatment to clear up. In addition, it’s likely that, over time, the borrelia bacteria will have grown immune to standard oral antibiotics like doxycycline. A more specialised approach is often required. There is also the matter of co-infections to consider. Lyme disease is contracted through tick bites, as most people know. However, what is lesser known is that other infections can often be transferred simultaneously. These are called co-infections, and can often compound or add to the already debilitating effects of Lyme. They need to be treated in tandem with the prevalent Lyme disease infection, and often require a delicate mix of powerful antibiotics to do so. The PICC-line is the perfect method of getting the most out of these antibiotics, while ensuring patient comfort and convenience at the same time.