The two stages of Lyme disease occupy very distinct places on the medical spectrum. Acute Lyme disease is a verified condition, which many doctors are able to treat effectively. On the other hand, chronic Lyme disease is not officially recognised as a legitimate disorder, despite affecting thousands upon thousands of patients across the globe. On top of this, many doctors do not know how to effectively treat the condition, resulting in many patients suffering from long-term symptoms. A pertinent question, then, is: when exactly does acute Lyme become chronic? Although a concrete, direct answer would be helpful, unfortunately, like many things surrounding Lyme disease, the issue isn’t so clear-cut.
Firstly, it is very hard to estimate how many people suffer from chronic Lyme disease. In the medical community, issues resulting after the acute stage of the disorder are known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, or PTLDS. This is a fairly limp way of describing what can constitute a crippling disease for many people, and also fails to take into account that chronic Lyme can affect people who have not gone through initial treatment. The name of the disorder seems to imply that you must have had treatment to suffer from it. This is particularly unhelpful when it comes to assessing the damage caused by chronic Lyme, and only adds to the confusion surrounding the disease.
Chronic Lyme affects each patient differently, depending on how their individual immune system reacts to the long-term infection. Therefore it is incredibly hard to quantify, and estimates of chronic Lyme sufferers are often considered to be extremely conservative. On top of this, not everyone who is infected with Lyme disease from a tick bite will suffer the long-term effects of the disorder. Some will get treatment immediately and notice no other complications. Others may not even receive treatment due to writing acute Lyme off as a bout of the flu, and still not present with any chronic issues.
In the majority of cases, if a patient notices the tick bite (usually due to the distinctive bullseye rash that forms on the site of the bite) and seeks treatment, the symptoms will dissipate within a few weeks. However, as the symptoms of acute Lyme appear very much like the flu, this crucial stage is easily missed. In addition, acute Lyme disease might not even present as a severe flu; symptoms can actually (and deceptively) be quite mild. The tell-tale rash appears in the majority of cases, but not all. Ticks will also seek out warm crevices or hard-to-reach spots on the body before biting, making it more difficult to notice a bite. Therefore, many cases of Lyme disease go unnoticed. This is the danger zone – if the initial symptoms are missed and the disease isn’t diagnosed within the first month or so, chronic Lyme and all the confusion and grey areas surrounding it become a likely possibility.
Therefore, it’s fair to say that chronic Lyme occurs when acute Lyme subsides. But the exact point of transition simply cannot be pinpointed with any great degree of accuracy. For some patients, chronic Lyme symptoms may appear in a matter of weeks after the initial symptoms subside. For others, it could be months, or even years. It all depends on how the immune system reacts to long-term exposure to borrelia burgdorferi, the causative bacterial agent of Lyme disease. Recent surveys have shown that chronic Lyme is far more debilitating than acute Lyme; in fact, chronic Lyme has been shown to be one of the most crippling chronic conditions that exists in the world today.
So the question then becomes: is there a way back from chronic Lyme disease? Again, the answer is unhelpfully obscure. Treatment of chronic Lyme requires a specialised approach, as the inflammation issues are often the dominant cause of the symptoms. BCA-clinic are experts in the treatment of chronic diseases such as Lyme, and understand better than anyone that the inflammation caused by the disorder has to be tackled in tandem with the underlying infection. The team at BCA-clinic utilises a combination of antibiotic treatment and all-natural herbal supplements and diet adjustment to address both aspects of chronic Lyme. The process is long and the treatment path is tough, but the disease is a significant one; once it has its hooks in, it becomes complicated to remove.
Of course, the best method of prevention is not allowing the disease to occur in the first place. This can be achieved by higher visibility, more education on the dangers of Lyme and tick-infested areas, and a commitment to resolving acute Lyme in the first few weeks of the disease. Doing so dramatically reduces the chances of chronic Lyme, and can save a life time of recurring issues for many patients. Acute Lyme disease is officially recognised, easily treatable and non-severe. Chronic Lyme is the exact opposite, despite being a mutation of the same strain of disorder. Not letting Lyme disease advance to this stage should be a key priority for patients and doctors alike.