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Lyme disease is an invisible illness, in more ways than one. It's invisible in the sense that its symptoms are not readily recognized by others.
This is compounded by the fact that people with Lyme tend to be housebound, even bedridden. And out of sight too often means out of mind.
Lyme is invisible in another sense, making life tougher still. The medical community has not come to any consensus on the cause, symptoms or even the widespread existence of this disease.
Many people with Lyme disease have been misdiagnosed and misunderstood by many in the medical community. If the sufferer does not display a bulls-eye rash for instance, Lyme as a possible diagnosis may be automatically discounted.
If the sufferer does not recover after a few rounds of antibiotics, it's a short trip from an uncertain medical diagnosis to a stubborn certainty that the sufferer is a neurotic malingerer.
It's tough to be this invisible, especially when getting through a day takes everything you've got. Lyme opens up its victims to a life of pain and weakness.
People with Lyme may suffer neurological and sleep disturbances and profound cognitive problems. They may be very sensitive to light and sound.
Their muscles may twitch, cramp and ache, and they may experience tingling and numbness. It may be impossible to stay upright, and breathing may come in panting gasps.
Lyme disease is caused by ticks that carry the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It may be treated by antibiotics, or by a combination of natural therapies.
According to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) treatment with antibiotics should be long-term. ILADS cautions that short courses of antibiotics will only offer temporary relief, with a worse recurrence of Lyme disease just around the corner.
Doctors using naturopathic and homeopathic remedies recommend use of vitamins and minerals, as well as probiotics and other supplements to eliminate toxins, and to repair the body and its immune system.
Once a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment have been achieved, improvement is possible. Progress is slow and erratic.