Treatment for Lyme disease will vary from patient to patient depending upon the stage and severity of symptoms, presence of co-infections, age, and other clinical factors. The most common treatment for early stage Lyme disease is a 14-21 day course of oral antibiotics such as doxycycline for those age 8 or older.
Prophylactic (preventive) treatment should be considered when bitten by a tick in a Lyme endemic area because left untreated the bacteria can cause severe cardiac, arthritic and neurologic abnormalities, as well as meningitis.
Click here for the National Guideline Clearinghouse’s treatment guidelines for Lyme disease.
A patient who seems symptom-free of Lyme should be vigilant for signs of recurrence, as should his or her doctor. Relapses can occur. Many patients can do fine for a period of time after being treated, then start to experience the same or new symptoms. Stressful life events — a head injury, divorce, surgery, etc. — can trigger the reemergence of symptoms. At such times it’s difficult to tell if the new symptoms are from a recent tick bite gone undetected, or if it is the recurrence of an old infection.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Patients with tick-borne diseases should develop a healthy program of light exercise, nutrition and good sleeping habits. While on antibiotics, taking a probiotic containing acidophilus will replenish the “good” bacteria in the GI tract. Organic yogurt and kefir are also good sources of probiotics. Patients may take vitamins, herbs, or even homeopathic remedies to help with cellular repair, boost immune function, help with sleep, detox and inflammation. Always consult with your physician first regarding non-prescription treatments, nutrition and exercise programs.
Antibiotics are effective in treating many cases of Lyme disease, especially when caught early. However, up to 20 percent of those treated continue to experience lingering symptoms. Some call this post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, while others call it "chronic" Lyme.