Lyme Disease: Treatment

Lyme disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics. As with many diseases, the sooner you catch the disease and begin treatment, the smoother the recovery will be. Oral antibiotics (like doxycycline, penicillin, and amoxicillin) can speed the healing of the circular, red EM rash and prevent symptoms (like arthritis and neurological problems) that may show up if the disease were to go untreated.

If the initial rash is missed and other symptoms develop, it isn’t too late to treat Lyme disease effectively.

Lyme arthritis is also treated with antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the arthritis, the antibiotics may be given orally or intravenously. Lyme arthritis generally goes away within a few months of antibiotic treatment; your doctor may provide anti-inflammatory drugs to help relieve the pain in the meantime. For especially severe arthritis, your doctor may draw fluid from the affected joints to relieve pressure or surgically remove the inflamed joint lining.

Lyme arthritis can take years to disappear completely. It may also permanently damage the structure of the joints. Up to twenty percent of patients who develop Lyme arthritis are left with chronic arthritis.

Other symptoms, like nervous system issues or heart problems are also treated with a course of antibiotics. Most patients recover completely.

Having Lyme disease once does not mean you are immune from future attacks. Lyme disease can reoccur. Some people do continue to have Lyme disease symptoms after treatment with antibiotics, including:

The National Institute of Health is working on finding the causes of these lingering symptoms and effective treatments. Some studies are suggesting that people with chronic Lyme disease may have a genetic factor at work that allows their bodies to keep succumbing to the disease. If you have lingering symptoms or chronic Lyme disease, you may want to get involved with a study focusing on new treatments.