Living with Lyme Disease

Coping with Lyme disease can be difficult for many people, especially when there's joint pain and fatigue. Unfortunately, mood swings are common, so support from loved ones is essential.
Living with Lyme Disease

Last update: 07 September, 2021

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that can cause multiple short and long-term ailments. Treatment can take several weeks to take effect, and so the symptoms don’t disappear immediately. Because of this, living with Lyme disease is something that patients need to come to terms with for a certain period of time.

On the other hand, studies show that up to 5% of patients can develop the post-treatment syndrome of Lyme disease. This is defined as ‘the persistence of symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain at the end of antibiotic treatment’. These symptoms can take months to disappear, so you must adapt your lifestyle to them.

Physical care

The condition in question can bring complications that decrease people’s quality of life, especially when it isn’t diagnosed in time. One of the most common complications is a specific type of arthritis known as Lyme arthritis, although it can also cause neurological and heart conditions.

In this sense, a series of changes in the person’s lifestyle and respective physical care can help people to cope better with the disease. Among the changes you can make, the following stand out.

Pain management

Living with Lyme disease is possible
Analgesics and anti-inflammatories are very useful for pain control. Similarly, physical measures, such as the use of cold compresses, are also often helpful.

Joint pain is perhaps one of the symptoms that most afflict those with Lyme disease and post-treatment syndrome. Experts recommend that affected people seek methods that help reduce the ailment to tolerable levels.

Many methods that can be useful, among which the following stand out:

  • Applying hot or cold compresses to inflamed muscles and joints
  • Using Epsom salts
  • Employing acupuncture or chiropractic techniques
  • Receiving gentle massages on painful joints

Importantly, these techniques may not work for everyone, so the results are highly variable. Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen can also help you live with Lyme disease. However, it’s always advisable to consult a specialist before taking any medication.

Performing exercises

Physical activity is one of the best ways to prevent illness and stay healthy. It offers great benefits by improving the cardiovascular system and regulating various processes in the body.

One of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease is joint pain, so exercising may seem like a bad idea. However, studies have shown that physical activity 3 times a week can improve the health of people with this pathology.

The study in question evaluated 8 patients with chronic Lyme disease who completed a series of controlled exercises for several weeks. At the end of the research, people reported feeling healthier and more energetic despite illness. However, it’s always advisable to consult with a specialist before starting any physical activity.

Maintaining a healthy diet

Unfortunately, there aren’t many studies to show that dietary changes can help you live with Lyme disease by reducing symptoms. However, the most advisable thing is always to follow a healthy and balanced diet, guaranteeing a supply of nutrients which are necessary for the renewal of cells.

It’s important to remember that the causative agent of the pathology is an intracellular organism, so cell renewal favors its elimination. Carrying out an anti-inflammatory diet can also be beneficial by reducing the inflammation of the joints, so the following tips can be followed:

  • Using olive oil instead of vegetable oils when cooking
  • Reducing the consumption of red meat
  • Eating at least 2 and a half cups of fruits and vegetables a day

On the other hand, people with Lyme disease often follow rigorous treatment with antibiotics, which can affect the gut microbiota. This fact can favor the appearance of various gastrointestinal pathologies that complicate the condition. In this sense, it’s advisable to take care of the microbiota by increasing the consumption of fiber and fermented foods such as yogurt.

Emotional management

The diagnosis of certain diseases can cause shock and changes in the sufferer’s moods, especially if it involves pain or some functional limitation. In this sense, Lyme disease and post-treatment syndrome can produce psychiatric disorders in some people, even leading them to suffer from depression or anxiety.

This pathology can also affect the central nervous system, favoring the appearance of certain symptoms that worsen people’s moods. Multiple studies show that those affected by Lyme disease post-treatment syndrome have motor slowdowns.

People can also develop different memory problems and disturbances in language fluency. All of these conditions influence the development of psychiatric disorders and mood swings. In this sense, it’s vitally important that the family environment supports and understands the sick person, at least until the moment of their healing.

In cases of severe depression or sudden mood swings, it’s important to consult a specialist doctor. They can offer certain options that will help improve the situation. There are also online support groups, which feature people who have overcome the disease, and whose experience can be useful for other people with the condition.

Social management

Social and family support is important to living with Lyme disease
Depending on loved ones, especially in times of anxiety or intense pain, is very important when trying to cope with Lyme disease.

Psychiatric and emotional disorders can also affect people’s social environment. In this sense, living with Lyme disease can have long-term repercussions, even when the disease has completely disappeared.

Sick people may want to isolate themselves and cut off any connection with the outside world. In this sense, it’s important for friends and family to be aware of the disease and all it entails.

In addition, they need to know  how it has affected the patient in question, which will allow them to find the best way to approach it and avoid further damage in interpersonal relationships.

The social management of people with Lyme disease should be carried out with the greatest possible care, as it can cause a lot of negative feelings. Fortunately, this feeling usually disappears on its own when they fully recover, and so it’s only a matter of time until the affected person regains their usual mood.

A transitory challenge

Living with Lyme disease can be a real challenge for many people, especially when symptoms persist due to post-treatment syndrome. Fortunately, the disease usually clears up completely after treatment with antibiotics, so it isn’t a permanent challenge.

One of the most frequent consequences of the pathology is the appearance of psychiatric disorders such as depression and mood swings. In this sense, friends, family and support groups are key in helping people overcome their condition successfully.

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