Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
Summer is well underway and these past 4 weeks I’m beginning to address a variety of health concerns with symptoms that are remarkably similar to those of infections transmitted by ticks. Though most people who acquire an infection develop minimal symptoms and resolve the infection for good, this is unfortunately not everyone’s experience. Here are some important things to know about these infections:
1. Lyme Disease is not the only tick-borne illness to be concerned about. In fact, there are many “co-infections” (e.g. Bartonella, Ehrlichia, and Babesia infections), with unique symptoms. An infected person may not test positive for Lyme, but they may still have an active infection by one of these other microbes.
2. Initial symptoms often include flu-like illness, sometimes with a moderate to high fever, sometimes with a rash, and sometimes with fatigue and muscle pains. These symptoms relapse in various forms over months to years, when the immune system is stressed. Additional symptoms can manifest, including those that mimic nervous system, mental health, or atypical autoimmune illnesses.
3. A single-pronged strategy that attempts to only kill the bug (such as with antibiotics), can be ineffective. These infectious agents are sophisticated and some know how to hide from antibiotics, whether by shifting into dormant states that are resistant to the antibiotic, or by evolving quickly to acquire antibiotic-resistant qualities. If you were treated with antibiotics alone for Lyme, and you have symptoms that could be relapsing illness, please consult a Lyme-literate practitioner.
4. The immune system is powerful. It has the potential to adapt on a second to second basis to address even those bugs our science has yet to identify. Some Lyme coinfections have evolved to actually hijack parts of the human immune system in order to survive. A successful healing strategy often includes identifying and treating the parts of the immune system that have been weakened, so that balance and health can be restored.
Medicine for infectious chronic disease reflects a young and developing science in the Western world. Its reliance on technology to objectively identify bugs as causative agents of illness before treatment can be pursued, suggests more faith in human engineering than in the human (natural) body. (Science continues to discover new microbes daily and many bugs have never been thoroughly studied for their impact on human health.) Though at times undoubtedly something to celebrate, this single approach can be limiting and, at times, harmful.
Old-world medicines and functional medical approaches excel at supporting optimal immune function, so that underlying problems can be addressed safely and effectively, even when our science is unable to identify the causative agent. An integrative approach that combines the strengths of current technology and old-world experience is an ideal way to address chronic disease that may have an infectious component.
If you suspect that one of these infections may be affecting you, please take a look at the self-questionnaire I’ve posted on our website. Though not exhaustive or comprehensive, it’s a good collection of some of the red-flag symptoms that deserve particular attention.
For some resources on preventing and treating a tick bite, please visit our website here, and watch the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation video on proper tick removal.