Lyme disease is the most common vector-born illness in the United States — and those who contract it can have a huge struggle to get back to health. Here are some important things to remember if someone you love is fighting this disease.
1. They Can Be In A Lot Of Pain
Pain in the muscles and joints — which is sometimes pretty severe — is a very common symptom of Lyme disease, and keeping that pain under control can be a real challenge.
This chronic pain can make it hard to go to work, clean the house, or do other basic activities of everyday life. And pain relievers, whether over-the-counter or by prescription, all have side effects ranging from stomach irritation to liver impairment to becoming dependent.
2. They Can Also Suffer From Severe Fatigue
Some patients with this condition report that during the middle of a flare-up, they can often be so tired that it is all they can do to get out of bed in the morning. Many have to rest throughout the day and this can make it difficult for work, school, and other important aspects of living.
3. They May Suffer From Anxiety and Depression
It is very common for those with Lyme disease to suffer from problems with anxiety and depression. This is not just because of the pain and fatigue this disease brings. It is also because the kind of bacteria that causes Lyme disease, known as a spirochete, can settle in the brain and cause these mental problems.
4. They Have Ups And Downs
One of the difficult aspects of Lyme disease is that it can flare up then settle into a period of remission. In other words, people will get better and actually feel good for months or weeks on end and think they have finally gotten over the disease, only to be hit with another bout of pain and fatigue. For many people, this is one of the most frustrating aspects of this disease.
5. They Can Feel Isolated Or Lonely
Because of the nature of this disease, people who have it can have a hard time explaining their symptoms to others. And, because they do not always look sick, they find that sometimes other people think they are faking it or are not as ill as they really are. This can lead those with Lyme disease to feel lonely or to withdraw from others. This feeling of isolation is another difficult thing to cope with — and it can make the depression and other emotional issues worse.
6. They Are Often Misdiagnosed
Lyme disease can carry with it over 100 different signs and symptoms, some of which can easily be mistaken for other illnesses or conditions — and many doctors simply do not know enough about this disease to diagnose it easily. This is why many people often get a wrong diagnosis, which can delay the treatment that they need so badly. This can also cause their health to deteriorate, since they are not being treated for the disease itself.
7. They Must Go Through A Long Treatment Process
Even once Lyme disease is diagnosed, that is only the beginning. The treatment process can take months and months of antibiotic therapy to complete, and that is not the only aspect of the treatment.
Those fighting this condition must also eat healthy, try to stay active, rest, and take supplements in order to work their way back to being healthy. And if this disease does go untreated, people who have it can feel its affects for a lifetime.
8. They Run The Risk Of Fatal Complications
Although this fortunately is rare, Lyme disease can sometimes be fatal if the spirochete invades the heart and causes a heart block. It is not a common complication, but one which can cause a great deal of anxiety nonetheless.
In short, although Lyme disease is only rarely fatal, it can cause significant emotional and physical problems and have a significant (and negative) impact on the lives of those who have it. Good emotional support from family and friends is important to get through this difficult condition.