Lyme disease: what are the effective treatments?
The Lyme disease (pronounce "laïme") is not anecdotal: in 2016, 56 000 cases were listed in France by the network Sentinels - a number "probably considerably underestimated"according to Dr. Alexis Lacout, radiologist and specialist of the question.
Transmitted by the tick, this pathology is in full swing: "ticks proliferate and the disease is growing in intensity - between 2014 and 2016, the number of cases recorded in France has doubled, it is a true epidemic!"
So much so that in November 2018, the European Parliament unanimously passed a resolution aimed at stemming the "alarming spread" of this disease that currently affects about 1 million Europeans ...
What is Lyme disease exactly?
If, in the common language, one speaks of the "Lyme disease", the specialists, them, evoke rather diseases "vectors with ticks" and a "persistent polymorphic syndrome after possible bite of ticks" (SPPT).
Indeed: when a tick stings us, it can inoculate us in passing forty different pathogens. Of these, of course, there are Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that is responsible for Lyme disease) but also other bacteria (Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma ...), parasites (Babesia ...) and even viruses.
"Of course, it is also possible that the tick does not inoculate you at all, says Dr. Lacout. The longer the tick remains to gorge itself with blood (that is, the more it stays "hooked"), the more likely it is to get an infection. "
Good to know : in the majority of cases in Europe, it is the tick Ixodes ricinus that transmits Borrelia burgdorferi, so Lyme disease.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
"It's a very complicated question, says Dr. Lacout. The whole difficulty of Lyme disease is that there is not a list of specific symptoms. Patients go to the doctor with very different symptoms (fatigue, mood disorders, sleep disorders, pain ...) and this often leads to diagnostic wanderings."
Most experts agree that Lyme disease evolves in 3 phases:
- The primary stage (which is observed in 50% of cases) is characterized by an erythema migrans: it is a red spot in the form of target (or ring) which extends progressively and whose center is the sting tick.
- The secondary stage corresponds to the spread of the bacterium in the body: we observe joint pain and possibly brain and meninges (we speak of "meningoencephalitis") with headaches and neurological disorders.
- The tertiary stage (the famous SPPT) is usually difficult diagnosis. There are 3 main signs: an intense physical fatigue that limits the activities of daily life, neuro-psychic disorders (problems of memory, concentration, irritability, anxiety ...) and pain (muscular, joint, origin) nervous, headaches ...).
"To diagnose a SPPT (in addition to the clinical signs), one can perform a serology : This is a blood test that allows you to search for specific antibodies against the pathogenexplains Dr. Lacout. The problem is that the serology is not reliable: it would detect less than 60% of cases!"
What treatments and what prevention against Lyme disease?
If Lyme disease is identified early (at the primary stage), a antibiotic treatment will usually be enough to kill the bacteria and prevent its spread in the body.
In the secondary and tertiary stages, another strategy must be used, as Dr. Lacout explains: "since we do not know which bacterium the patient has been inoculated with by the tick, we are going to fumble: the doctors usually prescribe a test treatment - a antibiotic (Doxycycline) they may, in some cases, associate with an anti-parasitic (Plaquenil)".
"After one month, the patient's reaction is observed: if there is an exacerbation of the clinical signs, it is (paradoxically) a good sign because it confirms the diagnosis and that means that the treatment is effective. If the clinical signs disappear, it's even better. On the other hand, if nothing changes, consider something different - a treatment with another antibiotic (Azithromycin), for example. "
"In addition, it must be known that there may be relapses after treatment because Borrelia bacteria can resist antibiotics - which explains the chronic Lyme disease."
In addition to "classic" treatments, Dr. Lacout advisesaromatherapy and the phytotherapy :
- The essential oil of oregano contains a molecule (carvacrol) whose effectiveness is recognized against the bacteria Borrelia. To buy in pharmacy in the form of capsules ... after medical advice!
- The essential oil of garlic (Allium sativum) is anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic: it is used in the form of drops, to buy in pharmacy. Attention: again, a medical opinion is essential. And the bad smell of garlic is dissuasive ...
- "To help your immune system fight against infectious agents, you can also take a course of action. propolis or Royal jelly."Ask your naturopath!
To protect against Lyme disease and SPPT, a few preventive measures are enough: before going out into the wild, put on long clothes, closed shoes and a hat - we pack a repellent tick and a tick-tick.
During the trip, we avoid sitting directly on the ground and we will not walk in the tall grass. After the exit, we look carefully for ticks: "do not forget to look at the folds and the scalp"says Dr. Lacout. Warning : the sting is painless and some ticks (larvae) are very small!
Thanks to Dr. Alexis Lacout, radiologist, co-founder of Club Lyme and author of Lyme disease, better understand it, better live it (Mango edition).
Read also :
⋙ Lyme disease: 80% of misdiagnosed patients take antibiotics unnecessarily
⋙ A serious pathology other than Lyme disease caused by ticks
⋙ Lyme disease: 10 mistakes not to commit to protect yourself