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Chronic Lyme can look like a lot of illnesses

Chronic Lyme disease can manifest as multiple illnesses It’s probably difficult to find someone who hasn’t heard of Lyme disease. Everyone already knows that this disease can develop after a tick bite, but not everyone knows that there are several forms of Lyme disease. When you hear that in Canada, until recently, the existence of Lyme disease was not officially recognized, it refers to the chronic form of this disease. The situation has changed recently, but there are still many people among us who don’t know the real cause of their health problems. Why? Because chronic Lyme disease can mimic hundreds of other diseases.

A Bit of History

So, almost 20 years ago, I first heard about Lyme disease from a doctor who was helping me treat autism in my child. His entire office was covered in Lyme disease posters. While waiting in line, I read some things but didn’t think it had anything to do with me. It was this doctor who asked me a question that I now ask myself many times a day: Have you ever been bitten by a tick? My answer was negative. He asked, “Your child?” Again, a negative answer. The doctor persisted, “Your husband?” And my husband confirmed that he was indeed bitten by a tick when he was 5 years old. But after that, he didn’t have any problems. However, that was so many years ago, and he’s not sick now, so what difference does it make?

But the doctor insisted: Lyme disease can look like autism in early childhood, he said. And so, we had the tests done, first for my husband, then for my child, at the Igenex laboratory. Then we tested my child at another laboratory in the US called Immunescience, which tested not only various types of Lyme disease but also co-infections associated with Lyme. And the results of all these tests showed that my child tested positive for all types of these infections.

After that, we treated Lyme disease, not autism. Now, this disease is called PANS. But we were treated by another doctor from the United States because our Canadian doctor had to surrender his license because Lyme disease was not officially recognized in Canada at that time. So, more than 200 of his patients were left without a doctor in a single day. This was only 12 years ago.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a borreliosis caused by Borrelia bacteria, which usually infect animals such as birds, mice, other small rodents, and deer. Ticks are not usually interested in humans; they bite humans only when they can’t find a more suitable host. But if it happens, the tick can infect the person with infections it carries from biting other animals. If the place where you live has many of the animals mentioned above, the chances of encountering ticks carrying Lyme disease are much higher. There are many Lyme disease-carrying ticks in Ontario, and there are also many of them now in BC (British Columbia).


ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) is a non-profit international interdisciplinary medical society dedicated to proper diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and associated illnesses. ILADS promotes understanding of Lyme disease and its related conditions through research, education, and policy. The organization supports physicians and scientists who are advancing the standards of Lyme disease and associated illness treatment. It’s worth mentioning that many positive changes in the field of Lyme disease treatment are attributed to the existence of this organization. I am a member of ILADS.

How can someone contract Lyme disease?

My story illustrates how one can miss the problem by only thinking about tick bites and the typical rash and acute Lyme symptoms. But a positive answer to the question about a tick bite changes everything. There are no sterile ticks because ticks can carry up to 400 different diseases. Ticks are also known as “dirty needles.”

Lyme disease is transmitted by various types of ticks. Additionally, ticks can be in different stages of development. They usually bite not in their adult form but as larvae and nymphs, which are very small.

Source: About Ticks & Lyme Disease

Sometimes you hear people say, “I was bitten by someone, but not a tick.” Lyme disease is transmitted not only by ticks but also by mosquitoes, fleas, and spiders. Ticks inject saliva before biting, and this saliva not only numbs the bite area but also suppresses the immune system and opens the blood-brain barrier.

Only 30-40% of insect bites resulting in infection are accompanied by the typical Lyme rash. Always pay attention to mosquito bites that don’t quickly disappear.

Stages of Lyme Disease

There are three stages of Lyme disease:

  • Stage 1: Early infection (first few days after infection).
  • Stage 2: Infection dissemination (from a few days to weeks after infection).
  • Stage 3: Chronic Lyme (days to weeks after infection, if left untreated or improperly treated, can persist for months/years after infection).

Treatment of Early Stage Lyme Disease

Because Lyme disease is difficult to treat in the chronic, third stage, it’s better to prevent it altogether. There is a common belief that using antibiotics for a few days is sufficient to cure Lyme in the early stage. Another opinion suggests that if there is no fever and the typical Lyme rash, it means the tick didn’t transmit Lyme. In short, both of these versions are incorrect.

ILADS research indicates that a course of antibiotics for 4 to 6 weeks is needed for the most likely (over 90%) prevention of Lyme disease progressing to the chronic form (third stage).

Another Victim of Chronic Lyme: Justin Bieber

In 2020, Justin Bieber announced that he had been diagnosed with Lyme disease and promised to share his story with his fans soon. According to his description, Justin had one of the most dangerous forms of Lyme disease. The infection affected his facial nerve and heart, judging by his comments on Instagram. I want to add that Lyme disease rarely leads to a fatal outcome except in cases when the borreliosis affects the heart.

“I’ve had a rough couple of years,” wrote the 25-year-old singer on “Instagram” . “Many people constantly said that Justin Bieber looks terrible, is on drugs, etc., but they just didn’t know my diagnosis.”

Regardless of your opinion of Justin Bieber, we should all be grateful to him now. Celebrities are usually capable of changing the situation dramatically. Not long ago, everything happening in the field of Lyme disease treatment in Canada involved persecuting doctors who diagnosed patients using American tests and then treated them. It was the Canadian celebrities speaking out about their illness and how they could only find help in the US that changed this situation.

Justin Bieber is far from the first famous person to be affected by Lyme disease. You can read about the stories of other well-known people with this problem.

Why is it so Difficult to Diagnose Lyme Disease?

Diagnosing Lyme disease has always been a challenge. Lyme attacks white blood cells, which are our main defenders, so it’s not surprising that it’s difficult to obtain a positive test for Lyme disease.

Lyme bacteria multiply very slowly, which makes it hard to diagnose the disease in its early stages. Our bodies don’t produce antibodies in the first few weeks after infection, which further complicates early diagnosis. For this reason, in the United States, treatment for Lyme disease in the early stage is allowed even without positive tests, based on the assumption that the infection likely occurred.

It’s a well-known fact that if you run a test in Canada, it will almost always come back negative. Even the more sensitive American test (Igenex) is not perfect, and some believe that it may miss up to 90% of cases. However, at least it has the potential to return a positive result. Running this fairly expensive test without provoking the immune system is not recommended. If white blood cell levels are low, the test is likely to come back negative. Therefore, it should only be done with a doctor who understands how to properly test and treat Lyme disease.

Symptoms of the early stage of Lyme disease

As you may have already understood, it is best to treat Lyme disease in its early stage. However, the main problem is that symptoms can vary even at this stage. There are over 100 known symptoms of early Lyme disease. The most distinctive symptoms (which appear 3-30 days after a tick bite) include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (often in the summer months), such as:
  • Chills and fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Stiff neck
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • A large, expanding rash (erythema migrans) around the tick bite site (approximately in 40% of affected individuals). This rash can be round, triangular, or oval in shape and may resemble a bull’s eye.

Neurological problems, including facial nerve paralysis, radiating nerve pain, tingling sensation, numbness, and weakness, can also occur.

Antibiotics are used to treat early Lyme disease and prevent further complications of the infection and its transition to the chronic form.

Symptoms Associated with Chronic Lyme Disease

As mentioned earlier, people may not always remember a tick bite, a rash may not always appear after a tick bite, and there may not even be any immediate symptoms, even if there is a memory of a tick bite. Symptoms can appear months or even years later.

There are no clear diagnostic criteria for chronic Lyme disease, and the symptoms are highly individual. However, if you have a problem that does not respond to treatment or even worsens, it is worth considering Lyme disease, especially if you have a history of a tick bite and did not receive an adequate course of antibiotics.

Symptoms associated with chronic Lyme disease include:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional rashes in new areas of the body
  • Facial paralysis, also known as Bell’s palsy (paralysis on one side of the face)
  • Arthritis or joint pain and swelling, especially in large joints (such as the knee)
  • Periodic pain in tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, or bones
  • Rapid heartbeat or arrhythmia
  • Dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain or spinal cord
  • Shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet

Antibiotics can be used in the treatment of chronic Lyme disease in certain cases. However, there are also many alternative therapies that have shown high effectiveness. For example, ozone therapy is known to be effective against.

Spread of Lyme disease in Canada

Lyme disease is on the rise in Canada. You ask: why? We’ve never had so many cases of Lyme disease before. The answer is simple: they were, but these people were not diagnosed. Chronic Lyme disease looks like hundreds of other diseases.

Lime the great imitator

Lyme disease can be mistaken for many diseases. About 30% of mental problems can be caused by undiagnosed Lyme disease. Here is a far from the complete list of these problems.

  • Multiple sclerosis;
  • Lateral amyotrophic sclerosis;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Systemic lupus;
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy;
  • Rheumatic polymyalgia;
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome and immune dysfunction;
  • Increased chemical sensitivity;
  • Bipolar disorder;
  • Schizophrenia;
  • ADHD;
  • Autism;
  • Any mental health presentation;
  • Fungal hypersensitivity;
  • Various autoimmune diseases;
  • Hashimoto, Graves’ disease;
  • Adrenal insufficiency;
  • Hyperparathyroidism;
  • Early menopause and other hormonal changes.

Prevention of Chronic Lyme Disease

I must emphasize that there is currently no vaccine available to prevent Lyme disease. For some reason, all attempts to develop a vaccine have been unsuccessful. Extensive research has shown that the vaccine often resulted in complications rather than preventing the infection.

If you suspect that you have been bitten by a tick that may carry Lyme disease, it is important to see a doctor and request a course of antibiotics for a period of 4-6 weeks.

Ticks can transmit the infection even if they have been attached to you for less than 24 hours. There is a controversial claim that if a tick is removed quickly (within 24 hours), infection is impossible. However, this claim is highly debated. The first thing a tick does is inject saliva, which already contains the infection. Once it does that, usually right away to prevent you from feeling the bite, there should be suspicion of infection.


  • There are anecdotal reports suggesting that Lyme disease can be transmitted in utero and between partners.
  • Less than 1/3 of individuals develop the typical Lyme rash after a tick bite.
  • The majority of diagnosed individuals do not recall a tick bite.
  • Symptoms can manifest months or even years after the initial infection.
  • Mental health issues are more commonly associated with chronic Lyme disease.
  • Antibodies are not detectable in the first few weeks after infection, and after a few weeks, the chances of successful Lyme treatment decrease significantly as it progresses to the chronic form. Therefore, the CDC now allows the treatment of acute Lyme disease without confirmation through testing.
  • Lyme disease can be transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, and spiders.
  • Antibiotics, when taken for 4-6 weeks, have a 90%+ chance of preventing the progression to chronic Lyme disease.
  • Lyme disease can be mistaken for various other illnesses because it can affect almost any organ or system in the body.
  • Lyme replication is slow, and it rarely results in sudden disability. It is important not to ignore ongoing problems that worsen despite treatment, especially if there is a history of tick bites.

Lyme replication is slow, and it rarely results in sudden disability. It is important not to ignore ongoing problems that worsen despite treatment, especially if there is a history of tick bites.