What is Chronic Lyme Disease?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2019
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Chronic Lyme disease can refer to several types of patients who exhibit the symptoms of Lyme disease after treatment has taken place, or after the initial bout of Lyme disease has taken place. Lyme disease is a bacteria transferred to humans and animals by the deer tick. Sufferers of the disease often exhibit symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, rashes, and even depression. The disease is treated with antibiotics, and after the run of antibiotics is taken by a sufferer, symptoms may still persist. This is known as chronic Lyme disease, though patients who exhibit the symptoms of Lyme disease without ever having contracted it are also known as sufferers of chronic Lyme disease.

Deer ticks live primarily on deer in their adult lives, and with the emergence of suburban sprawl into previously wooded areas where deer were prominent, the occurrence of Lyme disease has grown. Humans and animals can get Lyme disease through transmission from a deer tick, and if treated early enough, the symptoms can often be treated with no recurrence. If the disease is treated at a late stage, some symptoms may persist even after the course of antibiotics are taken. Chronic Lyme disease may refer to these types of people who experience symptoms after the course of treatment. A significant percentage of people who have Lyme disease are chronic in some way.


Another definition of chronic Lyme disease is a person who experiences the long-term symptoms of Lyme disease that goes untreated. Some of the complications caused by Lyme disease that may be experienced by a chronic sufferer include arthritis, swelling of the brain or spinal cord, and neurological problems due to nerve damage. These issues can be life-altering and quite severe, and each condition must be treated individually. Arthritis, for example, can be treated with medications specifically designed for arthritis rather than for Lyme disease.

Another application of the term "chronic Lyme disease" can refer to someone who exhibits the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, yet does not test positive for the actual disease. The symptoms can occur at any time and in any combination but have no connection to Lyme disease, so the term is more of an incidental label for a collection of issues any given sufferer might be experiencing at a given time. The term is not often used in this manner because it is essentially inaccurate, and the course of treatment for such issues will be unrelated to treatment for Lyme disease.



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