Dr. Allen Steere of Yale University first identified Lyme disease in the early 1970’s and attributed it to the bite from a blacklegged (deer) tick. Steere named the disease after Lyme, the town in Connecticut where the first victims caught it. But it was in 1982 that Swiss born entomologist Willy Burgdorfer finally cracked the disease’s actual cause. The harmful bacterium that Lyme-infested ticks carry was named in his honor: Borrelia burgdorferi.
In 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 300,000 U.S. citizens get Lyme disease every year. According to the CDC, a tick must remain attached to its host for 36-48 hours in order to pass the disease. But blacklegged ticks are so tiny that the people they bite frequently don’t even notice them. The bite from an infected tick is painless, although it does cause a tell-tale rash in around 60 percent of those who are bitten. Sometimes this rash forms a bullseye, but often the rash is more diffused.
Lyme disease symptoms can progress from mild fever, fatigue and achiness, to far more threatening conditions impacting the nervous and immune systems, eyes, heart, brain and other organs. In fact, Lyme’s symptoms differ so widely that they frequently baffle doctors, who often misdiagnose the illness as arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Lupus or MS. When this happens, patients are at risk for developing far more damaging neurological issues as the Lyme disease progresses.
In the Northeast and Midwest states where Lyme disease is most prevalent, doctors prescribe antibiotics routinely – even when the traditional Western blot test for Lyme comes back negative. That’s because the test can yield both false positive and false negative results, and leaving Lyme disease untreated poses serious, even deadly risks. In August of 2013 a 17-year-old boy from Poughkeepsie, New York, died from Lyme carditis (heart inflammation) after suffering from flu-like symptoms for just three weeks.
Study Shows HBOT Effectively Treats Antibiotic Resistant Lyme Disease
When Lyme disease gets caught early on, many patients recover with a short course of antibiotics. Several studies suggest that Lyme bacteria can attain in vivo antibiotic resistance by their ability to live intra-cellularly in fibroblasts, endothelial and glial cells, in addition to other cells. Some people with the disease have symptoms lasting six years or longer after completing the standard treatment. And Lyme disease can be accompanied by hard-to-treat coinfections like Borrelia, Babesia, Bartonella, and Ehrlichia, whose symptoms can also be debilitating. Thankfully, many Lyme disease patients respond well to HBOT treatments – even when other treatments have failed them.
During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, pure oxygen floods the body at higher than normal air pressures. This high oxygen level delivers vital nutrients to cells, helping to promote healing. Patients get an immune-system boost. Their pain subsides, and many of their compromised bodily functions get fully restored. In one pilot study by doctors Donald Freeman and William Fife at Texas A&M, 40 Lyme disease patients received hyperbaric oxygen therapy for five days a week for around four weeks. Some patients, though not all, also received antibiotic treatment. All but two of the patients saw improvements, even after they discontinued the HBOT and antibiotics.
Most HBOT patients get Herxheimer (Herx) reactions caused by the die-off of the Borrelia burgdorferibacteria, including grogginess, headaches or a low grade fever. (Herx reactions also occur in patients receiving aggressive antibiotic therapy.) But once their Herx symptoms subside, patients report increased energy and reduced pain. Patients also say they are able to think and articulate thoughts more clearly. Here at the National Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Center, in addition to these benefits, we routinely see glands and organs resume normal functioning over the course of treatment.
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