Lyme disease cycle
Lyme disease

5 Common Lyme Disease Myths

Debunking common myths about Lyme disease:

MYTH: I only need to worry about tick season during the summer

FACT: Tick season starts NOW – in spring. About the time it warms up enough to put on shorts for the first time is when that tick is most apt to be waiting for you and all ticks carry potentially pathogenic microbes. So how will you prepare against tick bites? At a glance;

  1. Stay out of the woods where ticks hide under moist leaf litter until they make the climb out onto a twig or branch and onto your warm host body.
  2. Cover up head to toe.
  3. Tick check as soon as you’re out of the woods – place clothes in dryer for 30 minutes then place them in the wash.
  4. Don’t forget to treat your pets for ticks as well.
  5. Remove embedded ticks carefully. Dr. Rawls can detail the dos + donts of properly removing ticks.
  6. After removing an embedded tick, it’s time to give your doctor a call.

MYTH: Borrelia burgdorferi alone causes Lyme Disease

FACT: Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are carried by ticks and transferred during a tick bite. Once thought to be caused by one microbe in particular (Borrelia burgdorferi) has since been debunked – we know that there are at least 12 different species of borrelia worldwide that can cause Lyme disease and Lyme disease–like syndromes. Lyme Disease is never a single microbe. Ticks can carry hundreds of microbes. When you’re trying to answer that question — “What causes Lyme disease?” — it’s not as straightforward as it might seem. We know microbes are involved, we know certain kinds of microbes that we define as stealth microbes are involved, but doctors should never look at Lyme disease as an infection with a single microbe.

MYTH: My doctor told me Lyme Disease doesn’t exist where I live, I’m fine.

FACT: Lyme Disease is in every state. Because Lyme disease is difficult to define, difficult to treat, and rarely life-threatening, many doctors today turn a blind eye to it and no organization has any idea how many people worldwide are infected. Dr. Rawls stresses the importance of being an ‘active patient’, being aware of Lyme Disease symptoms, when you see your general practitioner or when to see a Lyme specialist, and more. He can detail further the steps to take after you’ve been bit by a tick and the right questions to ask your doctor.

MYTH: Doctors recognize acute Lyme Disease, but say the chronic condition doesn’t exist, despite many thousands of sufferers.

FACT: So what’s the difference between acute and chronic Lyme Disease? A lot. Dr. Rawls explains with acute Lyme Disease, you’ve got a microbe that has never entered your system before that enters through a tick bite, and it can be one microbe or different microbes. If your immune system is strong, that reaction may be very mild, or you might not experience any symptoms at all. The most common presentation of chronic Lyme disease is gradual onset. It’s a disruption of the entire microbiome and a disruption to the whole immune system which becomes a chronic misery that lasts a lifetime.

MYTH: I got bit by a tick – antibiotics to the rescue!

tick sign

FACT: Not quite. When we’re sick, most of us want to feel better ASAP and call their doctor for a quick antibiotic fix (a.k.a. Heroic therapy). While there is definitely a place for using antibiotic therapy for treating acute symptomatic Lyme Disease, there is little consensus, however, on antibiotic use for chronic Lyme Disease. That’s more about restoring the immune system while you’re suppressing the microbes. The primary problem is that synthetic antibiotics do not kill only pathogens (disease-causing bacteria).

Antibiotics kill all bacteria. So while stealth microbes (those associated with Lyme disease) might withstand antibiotics by hiding out deep inside cells, your normal flora are very susceptible to being killed by as well (those that keep acute from turning chronic).

Bill Rawls is medical doctor and leading expert in Lyme disease, integrative health, and herbal medicine. In the middle of his successful medical career, Dr. Rawls’ life was interrupted by Lyme disease. Since his recovery, he has helped thousands of patients find their path to healing from Lyme disease and chronic illness. He is the author of the best-selling book Unlocking Lyme, and the Medical Director of and Vital Plan, an online holistic health company and Certified B Corporation®.

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