Can One Die of Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease typically marked by a fever, headache, chills, and bulls-eye rash, and later by arthritis, cardiac, and neurological disorders, caused by bacteria that are spread by ticks. Lyme disease is common in North America, Europe, and Asia and is caused by the bacterium borrelia burgdorfi, and infected ticks spread the disease by biting people and/or animals. There are two kinds of ticks that carry Lyme disease in the U.S. They are the deer tick, found in the Northeast and Midwest, and the western black-legged tick, predominantly found along the Pacific coast in northern California and Oregon.

Can You Die from Lyme Disease?

If not treated, Lyme disease can sometimes be fatal. Death records collected by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. found that during a four year period from 1999 to 2003, 114 records listed Lyme disease as a cause of death. Left untreated, Lyme disease eventually spreads to the brain, heart, and joints where it can do a lot of damage.If it's not promptly and aggressively treated, it may become chronic or may cause death later on.

Borrelia burgdorfi (Lyme) bacteria are not the only bacteria that ticks carry. Co-infections by other bacteria are often missed, such as Bartonella, Babesiosis, Mycoplasma fermentans, and Ehrlichiosis can also be transmitted. They can also be dangerous with their own set of symptoms, and people must be tested for them during the Lyme treatment. Co-infections can exacerbate Lyme disease or induce similar disease manifestations making the condition worse.

How can you die from Lyme disease? Possibly as Lyme bacteria are particularly difficult to kill, and in many cases the use of antibiotics only temporarily suppresses them. They prefer to travel in tissue because of their corkscrew shape, and they're clever enough to conceal themselves by entering healthy cells, where they remain unnoticed by the immune system. As soon as the bacteria enter the blood stream, they quickly enter the central nervous system where they cause the most harm.

How to Live with Lyme Disease

People who are treated in the early stages of Lyme disease with antibiotics typically recover quickly and completely. However, treatment is sometimes delivered by IV to people in a hospital who can't take the oral medications, or for people who are very sick with neurological Lyme disease. To live with Lyme disease, you need to keep the following things in mind:

1.       Sun Sensitivity

People who are taking antibiotic doxycycline and who are strongly affected by the sun are advised against using sunscreen, as it's ineffective with doxyclicine and can quickly lead to painful sunburns. The most important thing you can do is stay indoors during the middle of the day or wear long sleeve shirts and long pants, as well as a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.

2.       Probiotics

When taking antibiotics to treat Lyme disease, it's important that you take a good probiotic at least 2 hours after your antibiotics and continue the probiotics for up to a month after your antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics kill off the good and bad bacteria in your gut, which means that you are susceptible to a Clostridium difficile infection (C. diff), and in some cases, C. diff infection can lead to a hole in the intestines, which can be fatal.

3.       Blood Tests

Strong medications are used to treat Lyme disease, and when the bacteria die off they produce neurotoxins that may damage other vital organs, including the brain. Blood tests are essential for checking white blood cell counts, as well as the absolute neutrophil count to know that your immune system is coping well with the side effects of treatment, and the Lyme disease itself. Blood tests are also used to monitor kidney and liver function.

4.       Immune System

Can you die from Lyme disease? The answer to this question may very well depend on how sick you get while being treated for the Lyme disease. When you have a depressed immune system, your body is left vulnerable to other infections. You’ll need to avoid other people who may be sick. This means that you will want to take precautions, such as requiring family members and visitors to your home or hospital to wear surgical masks when around you, and make sure everyone, including doctors and nurses, frequently wash their hands with antiseptic hand wash before touching you. Remember also that bacteria can survive on inanimate objects, like doorknobs and counter-tops, so sanitizing these objects are important. Most people who die from Lyme disease, die from the infections picked up from other people.

5.       Diet

Improving diet may be one of the most important steps a Lyme patient can take on the road to recovery. The diet should be anti-inflammatory, avoiding foods like gluten and dairy, in favor of fish and flax oil for their anti-inflammatory properties. This typically means eating high quality proteins, fruits, and vegetables, to provide you with the materials your body needs to stay healthy. It also means avoiding sugar, which suppresses the immune system.

6.       Support

People who contract Lyme disease may sometimes feel isolated.Since many people are diagnosed late for Lyme disease, they often end up with the chronic or late stage form of Lyme disease. As a result of their poor health, they often lose their job, their homes, and personal relationships. If you have been diagnosed with chronic or late stage Lyme disease, it’s important for you to surround yourself with people who can help support you. There are also many Lyme disease support groups online that can help pull you through the healing process if necessary.

How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease?

Now you know the answer to "Can you die from Lyme disease?" is yes, so preventing it in the first place is significantly essential. The two types of ticks that spread Lyme disease live in wooded and high grass areas, so extra precaution should be taken in those places. Other recommendations include:

  • Learn which tick borne diseases are common in your area.
  • Avoid areas with leaf litter, thick vegetation, and high grass.
  • When hiking, walk in the center of trails.
  • Use repellent that contains 30 percent DEET on exposed skin.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin.
  • Regularly treat pets with products that kill and/or repel ticks.
  • Look for crawling ticks before they bite you, and bathe or shower after coming indoors.
  • Remove all attached ticks immediately with tweezers.
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