If you suffer from chronic headaches, you’ll do just about anything to stop the pain and pressure. In your search to find out what is causing your headaches, have you considered the co-infections of Lyme disease?
In my previous post, “Lyme Disease: Are Borrelia, Bartonella or Babesia to Blame for Your Headaches?“, I discussed symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for those wicked pathogens.
Today, I’ll talk about some lesser known, but potentially more severe, co-infections: Mycoplasma, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia and Anaplasma.
Mycoplasma is an extremely stealth microbe. It coexists with Lyme about 75% of the time.
Most people harbor it without having any symptoms. That is, until their immune system is compromised.
It is the smallest of all bacteria and has no cell wall.
It is spread by biting insects.
While there are many different types of Mycoplasma and even more symptoms, a very common one is Mycoplasma pneumoniae, known as Walking Pneumonia, exhibited by respiratory symptoms.
Mycoplasma is the most fatigue-causing pathogen there is among the Lyme-related illnesses.
Diagnosis: Testing is difficult for this stealth bacteria as well. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing is recommended.
Treatment: Without a cell wall, it is resistant to most antibiotics, except in acute cases. The best approach is to support the body’s natural healing. Avoiding foods to which you are sensitive, avoiding lectins and proper nutrition to restore gut health are key factors in fighting Mycoplasma.
Rickettsia can be spread by biting insects such as ticks, chiggers, lice, fleas and mites.
It infects the cells lining blood vessels known as endothelial cells.
It has two forms: Spotted Fever (one variety is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) and Typhus.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, the most common form of spotted fever, can range from a mild illness to a fatal one.
Initial symptoms include: high fever, severe headache, abdominal pain (with or without vomiting), and muscle pain. It often includes a spotted rash that begins at the wrist and/or ankles, and spreads outward from there.
Diagnosis: Labs are not helpful for this microbe (and the others that follow) in the first two weeks of acute symptoms. Treatment should be begin when symptoms are noticed and then follow up with labs.
Treatment: The antibiotic, Doxycycline, is the recommended treatment, according to Dr. Bill Rawls.
Ehrlichia is spread by tick bites. While some cases are mild, some can be severe or even fatal.
Ehrlichia infects white blood cells and mitochondria (the power-houses of our cells). The consequences can be long-lasting.
Severe symptoms of Ehrlichia infection may include difficulty breathing, respiratory failure, bleeding disorders, kidney or heart failure. Not symptoms to mess around with.
According to Lonnie Marcum at LymeDisease.org, the symptoms can include:
- Fever/chills and headache
- Muscle/joint pain
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Confusion or brain fog
- Lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes)
- Red eyes
Lonnie Marcum says “Like other tick-borne diseases, diagnostic blood tests will frequently be false-negative during the first weeks of illness. And like other tick-borne diseases, treatment is most effective if started early. For this reason, healthcare providers must use their best clinical judgement and treat patients based upon early symptoms alone.”
Diagnosis: Diagnosis is limited by our current ability to test for only two species. Ehrlichia parasites multiply inside host cells, forming large mulberry-shaped clusters called morulae that doctors can sometimes see on blood smears.
The infection still can easily be missed. The doctor may suspect Ehrlichia/Anaplasma in cases of people who do not respond well to Lyme disease treatment.
Treatment: According to Lymedisease.org, the treatment of choice for Ehrlichia and Anaplasma (below) is Doxycycline, with Rifampin recommended in case of treatment failure. The CDC also recommends Doxycycline and concurs that treatment should begin immediately when symptoms are present.
Anaplasma also infects white blood cells and is transmitted by a tick bite. Anaplasma is actually a variety of Ehrlichia.
Common symptoms usually appear 5-14 days after the tick bite and typically include the following:
- Muscle pain
- Gastro-intestinal symptoms
- Neurological symptoms
A delay in treatment can result in severe symptoms that may resemble Toxic Shock Syndrome.
The majority of Anaplasma cases are mild. Infrequently, however, complications like respiratory failure, peripheral neuropathy, bleeding/coagulation problems, pancreatitis and kidney failure may occur. Rarely, it can be fatal.
Diagnosis and Treatment are the same for Anaplasma as for Ehrlichia.
Don’t Mess Around with these Guys
Diagnose using symptoms, treat, then follow up with lab testing. That seems to be the consensus among Lyme practitioners and even the CDC when these microbes are suspected to be in play.
The symptoms for all of these nasty co-infections can be very similar, but also very dangerous.
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Joli Tripp and Mind Blowing Wellness are not medical doctors nor licensed medical professionals. No comment or recommendation should be construed as being a medical diagnosis. If you suffer from a medical or pathological condition, you should consult an appropriate healthcare provider.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
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