Last October (2013) Katie Couric produced a very interesting interview with Dr. Horowitz as a promotion of his book, “Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease.”
Questions from the public about chronic Lyme disease were submitted and answered by Dr. Horowitz.
Here it is:
According to the CDC, up to 300,000 people could contract Lyme disease in a given year. What is it, how can you protect yourself, and does “Chronic Lyme Disease” exist? Tune in today to hear Dr. John Halperin, Lyme Disease Specialist at Overlook Medical Center, and Dr. Richard Horowitz, author of Why Can’t I Get Better: Solving the Mystery of Lyme & Chronic Disease, weigh in on the debate.
Question from Winnie Chan:Can Lyme disease cause headaches to the point you can’t handle doing just daily things and to the point you don’t even want to move out of bed? I am now almost 60 but when I was a child when my mom took the tick from my head and the past 20 year’s suffer from headaches, and weakness that I most times fall.
Dr. Halperin: “When individuals have acute Lyme disease (meaning within the first month or so of the bite and becoming infected) they can develop severe headaches that can be incapacitating. These generally subside within a week or two. Lyme disease would not be expected to cause headaches years later or headaches that persist for an extended period of time.”
Question from Moshe Ariyeh: How is Babesia tested? Is it as simple as a blood test or does it require a clinical diagnosis? Thank you and keep up the good work. It is because of docs like you that I have hope.
Dr. Horowitz: “Unfortunately the diagnosis of this tick-borne parasitic infection may be difficult due to unreliable blood tests and different strains of the parasite that may not be picked up on standard blood testing. For example, we have Babesia microti and Babesia duncani/WA-1 in the United States, and the antibody test for one parasite will not necessarily pick up the presence of the other strain. Babesiosis is clinically suspected if a patient presents with malaria type symptoms such as day and/or night sweats (which may be drenching), chills, flushing, an unusual cough and shortness of breath. If the patient also has Lyme disease, their underlying Lyme symptoms will be exacerbated. This would include increased fatigue, joint and muscle pain, tingling, numbness and burning, headaches, memory and concentration problems and mood disorders, where symptoms persist despite classical Lyme therapy. So a clinical diagnosis is possible by taking a careful history and by ruling out other causes of drenching night sweats (like tuberculosis, lymphoma, hyperthyroidism, etc).”
Question from Erica Rose: What is the likelihood of the Lyme Vaccination becoming available to the public in the near future and for those of us that currently have Lyme, is there a possibility that a treatment like Apheresis could become a become a popular choice for treatment in the future?
Dr. Halperin: “The manufacturer of the vaccine that was marketed has not indicated any interest in re-introducing it. Although other vaccines are under development it would be quite a few years before any were FDA approved and commercially available. There is no reason to think apheresis would be helpful in Lyme disease.”
Question from Pammy Norman Murphey: Can chronic Lyme cause your hair to fall out in patches & turn completely white? This has just happened within 2 weeks to a friend. He lives in Georgia & tested positive, was sent to a specialist & they did nothing. He is on his 2nd round of antibiotics and is worse instead of better. His symptoms include arthritis, cough, congestion, numbness, chronic fatigue, vision problems, memory loss, & loss of appetite to name a few.
Dr. Horowitz: “Hair loss can happen with Lyme disease, as with many other chronic illnesses, so it is not specific enough to help a clinician establish a clinical diagnosis. This type of condition is best diagnosed with the help of a dermatologist. Regarding the other symptoms of chronic fatigue, numbness, visual problems, and memory loss, these are more classical symptoms for Lyme disease.”
Question from Donita Brown Henry: My friends 11 year old son just found out he has Lyme disease. How does it affect children? Can you prevent Lyme disease?
Dr. Halperin: “Appropriate antibiotic treatment is curative in about 95% of patients with correctly-diagnosed Lyme disease. Children almost always develop the typical rash and can have accompanying fever and the typical symptoms associated with febrile illnesses in children (headache, tired, aches and pains). A small percent can develop a readily treated form of meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain – painful but not dangerous), paralysis of the muscles of one side of the face, or rarely other nervous system symptoms. If untreated, children may go on to develop a form of arthritis. Lyme disease may be prevented by (1) avoiding areas where infected ticks live; (2) covering up as much as possible when in areas where ticks do live (long pants tucked into socks, long sleeve shirt tucked into pants) Insect repellants such as those containing DEET may be helpful but high concentrations or excessive use should be avoided in small children; and (3) if in areas where there is potential exposure to ticks, doing a careful whole-body tick check at the end of each day & removing any that might be attached. Since ticks must be attached for at least 24-48 hours before there is a significant risk of becoming infected with Lyme disease, this usually is highly effective.”
Question from Kim Watson: What do you think of treatment with Minocycline? I am currently using that and finding great results thus far. Lately I have been feeling tired but I also have Advance Coronary Artery disease and getting ready to have bypass surgery. I have a 99.? % blockage of the LDA and 95% of the RCA, plus 2 others so that could explain quite a bit.
Dr. Horowitz: “Minocycline is a tetracycline, like doxycycline, and can be effective in treating Lyme disease. One of the advantages of minocycline is that it has excellent penetration into the brain, and may be helpful in patients with neurological symptoms. It also may help with other tick-borne co-infections that are found inside the cell that are sensitive to tetracyclines which may be responsible for chronic symptoms. MANY overlapping medical problems can cause fatigue, such as low adrenal and thyroid hormones, adequate lack of sleep, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, blood sugar swings, food allergies and sensitivities, tick-borne co-infections, etc. You should work with your health care provider to make sure that all possible overlapping medical problems have been addressed to be sure that there are not multifactorial causes for your fatigue.”
Question from Dorothy Veracka: My daughter had bulls eye rash, treated w/ABs for a few weeks. A few years later diagnosed w/fibromyalgia. Could this really be from tick bite?
Dr. Halperin: “Appropriate courses of antibiotics are highly effective, being curative for virtually everybody. Symptoms arising for the first time several years after a treated Lyme disease infection would be highly unlikely to be due to that Lyme disease infection.”
Question from David Janet Eisner: I am being told that people have gotten a great response from ozone therapy for Lyme. What is your feeling about this?
Dr. Horowitz: “Ozone therapy is a type of alternative medicine treatment which attempts to kill bacteria using extra oxygen molecules. Some patients who have failed traditional therapies have tried this treatment and report that they feel better. There is however no scientific evidence available to validate the safety and efficacy of this approach. More research is needed into these types of alternative and complementary therapies.”
Question from Donna Holsonback: Can you get meningitis from a tick bite? My husband works outside and he had stroke like symptoms but he checked neg. to Lyme and Rocky Mountain fever. He finds ticks on him all the time. We live in Alabama.
Dr. Halperin: “Many different micro-organisms can cause meningitis, including Lyme disease. The same ticks that carry Lyme disease can also transmit a viral form of meningitis; this occurs fairly commonly in Europe & Asia but is quite rare in North America. If Lyme testing is negative, it’s more likely that meningitis is due to a non-tick borne cause.”
Question from Cindy Collette: Could neuropathy be a result of Lyme disease?
Dr. Horowitz: “Neuropathy is a common symptom of Lyme disease There are however other medical problems that can exacerbate neuropathy, such as tick-borne co-infections like Bartonella, heavy metal burdens like mercury, vitamin deficiencies, hypothyroidism and mitochondrial dysfunction (the part of the cell that makes energy) to name a few.”
Question from Bonnie Brasie: Since Lyme and CFIDS look alike, do the Lyme treatments help with CFIDS treatment?
Dr. Halperin: “Actually they do not look very much alike and no, there is good evidence that regimens that are highly effective in Lyme disease do not help CFS.”
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