Chronic pain, organ damage, and restlessness are often reported by individuals living with the long-term effects of Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. Many of these individuals also struggle with chronic insomnia and fatigue as a result of Lyme Disease.
Let’s take a look at what Lyme Disease is, its symptoms, and how to treat Lyme-related fatigue.
The infected tick has to stay latched on to the skin for 24-36 hours for the bacteria to transfer from the tick to the human host.
It may seem like having a tick latched on for that length of time would be unlikely, however, the ticks that carry Lyme Disease are often as tiny as a pinhead.
Many people do not even realize that they have been bitten until a rash appears later. Symptoms of Lyme can also take up to a month to appear, making the disease even more difficult to detect.
There are some tell-tale signs that Borrelia Burgdorferi has invaded the body via a tick bite. Noticing these signs may be an early indicator that the bacteria which causes Lyme Disease is present in the body. If an individual is experiencing any of these symptoms, a medical professional should be consulted immediately.
A circular rash around a red bump is considered a classic sign of Lyme. It is often referred to as a “bull’s eye rash” because the way the rash radiates from the bite mark resembles a bull’s eye target.
The bull’s eye Lyme rash can have a 12-inch radius and is often warm to the touch, but it’s not usually itchy or painful.
Another problem that makes Lyme symptoms hard to detect is that tick bites and the rash that follows may not be in a place that is easy to notice, such as the scalp or back of the body.
If a rash or bite mark is accompanied by any kind of fever - high or low-grade - it may be an early sign of the dreaded Lyme Disease.
If a rash or bite mark is accompanied by unusual fatigue, body aches, and joint pain or swelling, it could also be an early symptom of Lyme Disease
The good news is that not all ticks carry the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme. Usually, the Lyme-carrying culprits in the U.S. are the deer tick (Northeast U.S.), the black-legged tick (western U.S.), and the lone star tick (Southern U.S.).
Also, many people suspect that the number of cases in the south and west and under-reported and that there are much more active cases of Lyme in these regions.
All ticks have four life stages - egg, larva, nymph, and adult - and after hatching each stage they latch on to animals such as mice, squirrels, or deer.
Many of these animals may carry the Lyme disease bacteria and pass it onto the tick. If the tick then bites a person, it can infect the individual with Lyme Disease.
Usually, ticks are present wherever animals live, because they primarily bite and latch onto animals. So, if someone goes on a hike in a grassy or wooded area or even has a pet that goes outside occasionally, it is possible to have a tick latch on without them even realizing it.
Because Lyme is often difficult to diagnose (remember, many individuals do not even realize they have been bitten by a tick), it often goes untreated and can cause multiple health problems down the road.
Given how difficult it can be to diagnose PTLDS and the length of time it often takes for someone to receive an accurate diagnosis, many suspect that much more individuals are afflicted with Lyme Disease than the current numbers reflect.
Some individuals have been misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia or other immune disorders only to have their diagnosis later confirmed to be Lyme Disease.
Symptoms of PTLDS can include joint swelling or pain and muscle pain, fogginess or short-term memory loss, damage to the heart or nervous system, anxiety, and insomnia.
Pain, swelling, and fatigue are often so severe that it can be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia. Swollen knees, burning feet, and tingling hands are other mystery symptoms that often plague individuals for months or years before an appropriate diagnosis.
Because Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria that is wreaking havoc on the body, it can invade organs and the nervous system, causing heart damage, kidney damage and nerve damage.
Some symptoms of nerve damage can involve parietal paralysis of a limb or partial facial palsy. While Lyme Disease itself is not fatal, the long-lasting effects of Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome can cause permanent damage.
Many individuals with Lyme also report restless sleep and insomnia from their Lyme disease. This may be partially caused by Lyme’s impact on the nervous system or the anxiety that often accompanies invisible illnesses.
Much like fibromyalgia and other auto-immune disorders, living with PTLDS can have a negative impact mentally and emotionally on those who suffer from the disease, especially those who are still waiting on an accurate diagnosis.
Chronic pain and fatigue along with mysterious swelling, mood swings, anxiety, and insomnia are often attributed to hypochondria by peers and even some within the medical community.
Of course, Lyme Disease is real and detectable, but as we have discussed, it is often undiagnosed for months or years. This means many individuals are left dealing with the emotional ramifications of living with an invisible disease.
The emotional component of living with a disease without a name or having people respond to symptoms with comments such as, “But you don’t look sick” may cause new or worsening depression or anxiety, as well as anxiety-related insomnia.
Unfortunately, antibiotics are not usually used to treat Chronic Lyme or PTLDS. By the time the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria has been present in the body for a length of time, the immune system is suppressed and some damage may have already been done. Some individuals have found success with supplements (like vitamins, fish oil, magnesium, etc) that strengthens the body’s immune system and natural treatments.
As we have discussed, restless sleep and insomnia are often symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease. Using a weighted blanket at night may be a good way to treat sleep problems related to Lyme.
While Lyme Disease is treatable when caught early enough, the long-term effects of Chronic Lyme Disease, or PTLDS, can be debilitating.
Along with the physical ramifications which often include pain, swelling, and organ damage, the emotional effects of living with an invisible disease only further complicate the condition.
Because insomnia and restlessness are common symptoms of PTLDS, weighted blankets may be a good treatment option for many individuals afflicted with this condition.
Using the right weighted blanket may reduce anxiety and promote good sleep patterns for those with Chronic Lyme Disease and help improve their overall quality of life. Try using a weighted blanket to combat insomnia and restlessness related to Lyme Disease.