Testing of Lyme Disease and photo of Tick

Testing of Lyme Disease and Problems with It

Lyme disease is an infectious disease spread by ticks. It is a growing problem with hundreds of thousands being diagnosed each year. However, Lyme disease is possibly the most misunderstood and controversial health issue. Many people go misdiagnosed and silently suffer from chronic and serious symptoms of chronic Lyme disease without receiving proper treatment. Unfortunately, current testing for Lyme disease is highly unreliable, and many doctors are not versed enough in Lyme disease to provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
In this article, you will learn what Lyme disease is, the difference between acute and chronic Lyme disease, and their symptoms. You will learn about current testing methods for Lyme and the problems with these tests. You will learn what tests may further help accurate diagnosis, and why you need a Lyme-literate health practitioner for proper diagnosis and successful treatment.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an infectious disease. It is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria found in ticks.
Lyme is more common in wooded areas or in nature. It is transmitted to the human body by the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick. Based on the old standards, in order to transmit the disease, the tick usually has to stay in the body for 24 to 48 hours or longer. However, the new studies show that even 15 min from tick attachment it may transmit the variety of microbes into the victim.

Acute vs Chronic Lyme Disease

Acute Lyme disease refers to a short-term or recent infection, whereas chronic Lyme refers to a long-term infection with ongoing health problems. After getting infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, you may develop symptoms of acute Lyme disease. When caught early, within the first few days to weeks, acute Lyme disease is usually treated with a course of 1-2 antibiotics.
However, chronic Lyme disease is increasingly prevalent as well. Some people, unfortunately, are simply resistant to treatment. In other cases, Borrelia burgdorferi simply lingers in the body even after adequate treatment. While in other situations, acute Lyme disease symptoms may be too mild to take seriously, and the infection becomes chronic. In other cases, acute Lyme gets misdiagnosed and confused with the summer flu or another short-term illness and patients never get adequate treatment. Unfortunately, when the bacteria has fully integrated itself into your system, it leads to chronic health issues, and it is much harder to identify and shift.

symptoms from lyme disease include rash

Symptoms of Acute Lyme Disease:

  • Flat, circular rash with a bull’s eye
  • Joint pain, including neck and back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Sleep issues
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Concentration problems

Not all people with acute Lyme have a bull’s eye rash, actually, those who do are minority. Many people miss the tick bite altogether. Not all people with acute Lyme disease experience severe symptoms. Some may not visit the doctor. In some cases it may be confused with the flu or due to inaccurate Lyme testing, may get tested for autoimmune or other health conditions instead of Lymes. In some cases, symptoms may be written up as symptoms of stress, fatigue, or psychosomatic symptoms.

Symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Migrating and intermittent joints and muscle pains
  • Migrating pains or swelling in elbows, knees, and shoulders
  • Sleep troubles
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Speech problems
  • Neurological issues — migrating numbness, tingling or burning pains
  • Fibromyalgia-like pain
  • Other chronic health issues

Chronic Lyme disease is often confused with fibromyalgia, autoimmune conditions, mental health issues, and psychosomatic illness. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, people with chronic Lyme disease may get worse over time and never recover.

Lyme Disease from Ticks

Conventional Testing for Lyme Disease

Conventional testing for acute Lyme disease usually starts with a health story. Your doctor will look for tick bites and rashes. They will perform a physical exam looking for symptoms of Lyme disease.
If your doctor believes that you have Lyme disease, they may order the following “standard-of-care” tests:

  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) may be ordered to detect antibodies against B. burgdorferi.
  • Western blot may be used to confirm a positive ELISA test result. It is only used if your ELISA test is positive and checks for the presence of antibodies specific to B. burgdorferi proteins.
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) may be used to evaluate people with Lyme arthritis or nervous system symptoms. This test is not routinely used as it has a very low sensitivity.

If a patient tests positive for both ELISA and Western blot tests the conventional diagnosis of Lyme disease can be established.

Problems with Testing for Lyme Disease

The problem is that Lyme disease is critically misunderstood by many people in the medical profession. Most doctors are not very well-versed in Lyme disease. Testing is not reliable. Many medical professionals are simply not educated about chronic Lyme disease to recognize and treat it. Conventional doctors often have a difficult time diagnosing, understanding, or treating something that they cannot see or isolate. Hence, Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment may be one of the most controversial and difficult issues in medicine. There are a lot of grey areas, a lot of misunderstandings, and unreliable testing, so going to a Lyme-literate practitioner is critical.

Lyme Testing Is Not Designed to Detect the Lyme-Causing Bacteria

It is important to know that there are many types of Borrelia, not just B. burgdorferi, that also cause Lyme-like illnesses. Despite of the variety of bacterias, the conventional tests only look for one species of Borrelia, B. burgdorferi. There are actually 16 known strains of Borrelia. Another example of Lyme-related infection, for example, is caused by B. mayonii. If it is not that you are infected with B. burgdorferi, conventional testing may not pick up on your Lyme diagnosis and may be misdiagnosed and left without treatment.

Inaccurate Results and False Negative Due to Lower Test Sensitivity

Most non-Lyme literate doctors and labs stick to the two-step test for Lyme that is recommended by the CDC and approved by the FDA. These tests include the ELISA followed by a Western blot test. Both tests are only designed to detect B. burgdorferi and no other Lyme-related bacteria or co-infection.

One of the problems with testing for Lyme disease is that the ELISA tests are not always accurate. False negatives may occur. For example, if you get tested too soon after getting bitten and infected, it’s possible that your body hasn’t developed enough antibodies for the test to detect the bacteria. If your ELISA test is negative, many labs will not move onto the Western blot. Many doctors don’t retest, even if your symptoms persist and are in correspondence with the symptoms of Lyme disease. Research has shown that the two-step testing of ELISA and Western blot may miss up to 60 percent of Lyme cases.

The ELISA and Western blot are also not accurate when it comes to chronic Lyme disease, and are more helpful when it comes to acute Lyme disease.

False-Negatives May Also Occur

While false negatives may occur, false positives also commonly occur. After getting infected with B. burgdorferi, your immune system may not show a positive response with positive IgM (young antibodies), however, neither convert or mount an immune response with IgG (old antibodies). One study, for example, has found that over 50 percent of test participants showed false positive for Lyme disease. This may happen because of early antibiotic use or because the B. burgdorferi destroys the specific part of your lymph nodes that are responsible for IgG antibodies.

Some patients simply will not ‘convert’ to a classic immune response that most conventional healthcare professionals and testing are looking for. If you are working with a health practitioner who is not Lyme-literate, they may have a false-positive interpretation as positive for Lyme disease, when you don’t have Lyme disease.

Indirect vs Direct Testing: More False-Negatives

The two-step testing process used by most doctors is indirect diagnostic methods that do not look for or detect the bacteria that are causing the infection but measuring your body’s immune system response when the bacteria is present. There are several problems with this method:

  • Timing: During the early stages of the disease, your body may not have created enough antibodies yet to show up on the ELISA test. Most doctors don’t retest even if symptoms persist.
  • Immune suppression: Tick bites are tricky. The saliva of Lyme-causing ticks has an immune-suppressing component that may prevent or delay your body’s immune response, hence, your body won’t respond to the two-step test.
  • Antibiotics: Taking antibiotics around the time of the infection may also prevent your body from making enough antibodies to show up on your test.
  • Modified form of Borrelia: In some cases, the bacteria will turn into a cyst and prevent the production of antibodies.
  • Weakened immune system: If you have a weak or compromised immune system due to an illness, co-infection, or poor diet, false negatives may occur.
  • Seronegative patients: Some patients’ bodies simply do not produce antibodies at all.

More Reliable Diagnosis

In order to get the right diagnosis and the right treatment, you need to find a Lyme-literate functional or integrative medicine practitioner who understands Lyme disease.

Direct Testing

Direct testing methods are better than indirect testing. They don’t simply rely on your body’s response to bacteria. Instead, they are looking for specific disease-causing bacteria. This can help to determine if you have Lyme, what exact bacteria is causing it and what co-infections you may have.

More Lab Testing

Lab testing only provides a glimpse of what’s going on in your body. There is certainly more needed than simple Lyme blood testing. Other blood tests, besides the standard Lyme tests, may help to evaluate the state of your health and get a better understanding of what is going on in your body. It is crucial that you find a Lyme-literate functional doctor who listens to your symptoms and is able to make an accurate Lyme diagnosis based on your symptoms, health history, and other tests.

Some further blood tests that may help accurate diagnosis include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): white blood cells count (WBC), differential (diff), hemoglobin (HB)
  • Blood chemistries: electrolytes, liver function, kidney function
  • Glucose metabolism: fasting blood glucose, fasting insulin hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
  • Minerals: magnesium and calcium
  • Thyroid function: complete thyroid
  • Lipid panel
  • Autoimmune testing rheumatoid factor, ANA titer
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Vitamins: vitamin D and B12
  • Iron: ferritin
  • Urinalysis: pH, WBCs, nitrites, protein, bilirubin
  • Mold and mycotoxins
  • Food sensitivities
  • Omega-3/omega-6 ratio
  • Cytokine testing (Th1/Th2)
  • Adrenal hormone testing
  • Reproductive hormone testing: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone
  • Testing for toxins
  • Comprehensive stool analysis: yeast, parasites, viruses, and bacteria
  • Microbes testing
  • Genetic testing, like methylation ( MTHFR gene mutation)
  • Testing for neurological, cardiac, and GI symptoms
  • Testing for Lyme co-infections

Find a Lyme-Literate Integrative or Functional Health Practitioner

If you know or suspect that you have a Lyme disease (acute or chronic), it is important that you find a Lyme-literate functional medicine practitioner to help you received the right diagnosis, identify the root cause of your condition, and prescribe a personalized treatment.

As a Lyme-literate functional and integrative doctor, I can help you to receive the right diagnosis, address the underlying causes of all your health issues, and get the right treatment using a system-oriented approach, engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. As an experienced functional medicine doctor with an integrated expertise of both Western medicine and traditional Eastern practice, I can assess all the factors, including diet, lifestyle, stress, toxicity, allergies, sleep habits and medication that may affect your immune system in order to accurately diagnose Lyme disease and/or other health issues or co-infections and provide a personalized and effective plan to improve other organs function like the thyroid condition, repair your body and regain your health and well-being.

If you would like to get more information about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses or to schedule a functional medicine consultation, please call my office at 212-696-4325.

References:

  1. Wormser GP, Nowakowski J, Nadelman RB, Visinainer P, Levin A, Aguero-Rosenfld ME Impact of clinical variables on Borrelia burgdorferi-specific antibody seropositivity in acute-phase sera from patients in North America with culture-confirmed early Lyme disease.Clin Vaccine Immunol 2008 Oct;15(10):1519-22.
  2. Engstrom SM, Shoop E, Johnson RC Immunoblot interpretation criteria for serodiagnosis of early Lyme disease. J Clin Microbiol 1995 Feb;33(2):419-27.
  3. Ledue TB, Collins MF, Craig WY New laboratory guidelines for serologic diagnosis of Lyme disease: evaluation of the two-test protocol. J Clin Microbiol 1996 Oct;34(10):2343-50.
  4. Bacon RM, Biggerstaff BJ, Schrfiefer ME, Gilmore RD Jr., Philipp MT, Steere AC, Wormser GP, Marques AR, Johnson BJ Serodiagnosis of Lyme disease by kinetic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using recombinant VlsE1 or peptide antigens of Borrelia burgdorferi compared with 2-tiered testing using whole-cell lysates. JID 2003:187 (15 April) • 1187
  5. Bakken LL, Callister SM, Wand PJ, Schell RF Interlaboratory comparison of test results for detection of Lyme disease by 516 participants in the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene/College of American Pathologists Proficiency Testing Program. J Clin Microbiol 1997 Mar;35(3):537-43.
  6. Trevejo RT, Krause PJ, Sikand VK, Schriefer ME, Ryan R, Lepore T, Porter W, Dennis DT Evaluation of two-test serodiagnostic method for early Lyme disease in clinical practice. J Infect Dis 1999 Apr;179(4):931-8
  7. Nowakowski J et al Laboratory diagnostic techniques for patients with early Lyme disease associated with erythema migrans: a comparison of different techniques. Clin Infect Dis 2001 Dec 15;33(12):2023-7. Epub 2001 Nov7.
  8. Wojciechowska-Koszko I et al Seroidiagnosis of Borreliosis: Indirect Immunofluorescence Assay, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay and Immunoblotting Arch. Immunol. Ther. Exp. (2011) 59:69– 77
  9. Chmielewska-Badora J, Cisak E, Wo´jcik-Fatla A et al Correlation of tests for detection of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato infection in patients with diagnosed borreliosis. Ann Agric Environ Med (2006) 13:307–311
  10. Coulter P et al Two-Year Evaluation of Borrelia burgdorferi Culture and Supplemental Tests for Definitive Diagnosis of Lyme Disease Journal of Clinical Microbiology Oct 2005 Vol 43, No. 10 5080- 5084
  11. Craft J, Fischer DK, Shimamoto GT, Steere AC. (1986) Antigens of Borrella burgdorferi Recognized during Lyme Disease appearance of a new Immunoglobulin M response and expansion of the immunoglobulin G response late in the illness. J. Clin.Invest.1978, 934-39
  12. Hilton E, Tramontano A, DeVoti J, and Sood SK. (1997) Temporal study of immunoglobulin M seroreactivity to Borrelia burgdorferi in patients treated for Lyme borreliosis. J Clin Microbiol 35(3), 774-776.Kalish RA, McHugh G, Granquist J, Shea B, Ruthazer R, Steere AC (2001) Persistence of IgM or IgG antibody responses to Borrelia burgdorferi 10 to 20 years after active Lyme disease. Clin Infect Dis 33, 780-5. Abstract/FREE Full Text
  13. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/33/6/780.full
  14. Racine R., McLaughlin M. Jonesa DD. et al. (2011) IgM Production by Bone Marrow Plasmablasts Contributes to Long-Term Protection against Intracellular Bacterial Infection. J Immunol 186, 1011-1021 Prepublished online 8 http://www.jimmunol.org/content/186/2/1011
  15. Seriburi V, Ndukwe N, Chang Z, Cox ME, Wormser GP (2012) High frequency of false positive IgM immunoblots for Borrelia burgdorferi in clinical practice. Clin. Microbiol. Infect 18, 1236-1240.
  16. Elsner RA, Hastey CJ, Baumgarth N (2014) CD4+ T cells promote antibody production but not sustained affinity maturation during Borrelia burgdorferi infection. doi:10.1128/IAI. http://iai.asm.org/content/early/2014/10/08/IAI.02471- 14.abstract
  17. https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease#symptoms
  18. https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/arthritis-lyme-disease
  19. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html
  20. https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease-chronic-persistent
  21. https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease
  22. https://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/jnp.2008.20.1.iv
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/probe/docs/techpcr/
  24. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402110029.htm
  25. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/lyme-disease-resolving-the-lyme-wars-2018061814071
  26. https://danielcameronmd.com/relying-on-a-negative-lyme-disease-test-can-prove-deadly/
  27. https://danielcameronmd.com/lyme-diagnosis-tests/
  28. https://www.tiredoflyme.com/4-reasons-a-lyme-test-will-come-back-negative-even-if-a-person-truly-has-lyme-disease.html
  29. https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-sci-testing/
  30. https://www.cdc.gov
  31. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374655
MAKING SENSE OF LYME DISEASE

Making Sense of Lyme Disease – the Great Imitator

To say that Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose, would be like saying that McDonald’s has sold a few hamburgers over the years. Besides being called the great imitator, it has also been called an “invisible illness” as those who have it can still appear healthy, and so can their bloodwork.

Consider the shocking difference between these two statistics. In 2013, federal health departments reported that there were 27, 203 confirmed cases of Lyme disease. While the CDC that same year reported that there were 300,000 cases of the disease. What may be even more problematic, is that it appears to be on the rise.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infectious disease in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. The disease was first identified in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975, which is how Lyme disease got its name.

It’s actually a bacterial disease. The corkscrew shape of the bacteria responsible allows them to burrow into body tissues and even cells, where the bacteria can then hide. This is why different parts of the body can be affected and why those who are infected can exhibit a wide range of symptoms.

What Causes Lyme Disease?

Of the four bacteria responsible for causing Lyme disease, Borrellia burgdorferi and Borrelliamiyamotoiare the two most common in the U.S., while Borrelliagarinii and Borrelliaafzelii are common in Asia and Europe.

The bacteria enter the body through the bite of a tick. However, according to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, one of the top Lyme disease experts, other blood-sucking insects can also spread the disease.

A tick will usually attach itself to areas of the body where it will go unnoticed, like the scalp, groin, and armpits. It must be attached for around 24 hours before the bacteria are transmitted. And it’s usually the immature ticks that are most responsible, as adult ticks are bigger and easier to notice.

Research shows that within the first 15 minutes, as the tick attaches itself to the host, it injects a salivary content with numbing substances, so we don’t feel the invader as it feeds on our blood for hours. Up to 75 percent of a tick’s salivary secretion has a “soup” of pathogens, including Borrelia and other co-infections.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

The biggest problem with Lyme disease is that, for your best chances of a complete recovery, early detection is both critical and difficult.

Common symptoms of Lyme disease mirror those of several other conditions including:

• Multiple sclerosis
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Arthritis
• Fibromyalgia
• ADHD
• Alzheimer’s disease

symptoms from lyme disease include rash
First Warning Signs

In about half of all Lyme disease cases, the infected person will notice a growing red rash at the site of the bite that can grow up to 12 inches in diameter. The rash isn’t itchy or painful and is usually accompanied by other symptoms that may include:

• Chills
• Fever
• Headaches
• Body aches
• Fatigue

Chronic Symptoms

The longer the disease goes untreated, other signs and symptoms may come and go, such as brain fog, severe fatigue, muscle and joint problems, and an irregular heartbeat. The longer it persists, the more difficult it is to treat. And if left untreated long enough, it can cause problems with many organs and systems in the body, including the heart, digestive system, nervous system, brain, and reproductive system.

How is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?

Blood tests are the most common method to detect Lyme disease. However, it may take a few weeks after infection for detection to be possible.

The tests are looking to confirm the presence of antibodies to the Lyme-causing bacteria. Antibodies are created by the immune system to combat pathogens, but the body needs a certain amount of time to make them.

The CDC recommends a two-step process when attempting to diagnose Lyme disease. The first test is an enzyme immunosorbent assay which checks for any and all antibodies. If results are positive, the second test – an immunoblot test – will check for two specific antibodies that the body produces due to the presence of the Lyme bacteria.

If both tests are positive, the presence of Lyme disease is a practical certainty. But again, problems persist. Proper results of these testing methods rely on the proper functioning of the body’s white blood cells. So, there is still a chance that tests can be negative and Lyme disease present.

There is some good news, though. A brand-new testing method has been developed that can detect Lyme DNA, rather than the antibodies the body produces to combat the Lyme bacteria. This should allow for detection weeks sooner. And since time is the most critical factor in treating Lyme disease, this early detection is a very positive development.

It should be noted that diagnosing and treating Lyme disease can become quite pricey and that a patient will often see five to seven physicians before the disease is even properly diagnosed.

How to Treat Lyme Disease?

Unfortunately, the conventional treatment for Lyme disease – short courses of antibiotics – is often unsuccessful, particularly if the disease has been present for a longer time. For most patients, symptoms continue, and the disease worsens.

A natural health approach may be the better option, as in a rotation of herbal antimicrobials. The advantages are two-fold. There’s no chance of a resistance developing, the way it might with antibiotics. And there are no adverse side effects, such as the disturbance to your delicate microbiome that antibiotics use can cause.

Renowned natural health expert, Dr. Joseph Mercola, recommends taking a functional nutrition approach by using a number of herbs, foods, and other supplements to fight the Lyme infection, including astaxanthin, curcumin, krill oil, probiotics, resveratrol, grapefruit seed extract, and others.

Don’t underestimate the role of diet and functional nutrition when it comes to fighting Lyme disease. Naturopath and author of “The Lyme Diet: Nutritional Strategies for Healing from Lyme Disease”, Dr. Nicola McFadzean, has this to say on the subject:

“The role of nutrition is central not so much in the actual bug-killing, but in the underlying strength and resilience of your health. Immune support, inflammation management, hormone regulation, and detoxification functions can all be vitally influenced by your nutritional intake.”

If you’re concerned that you may have Lyme disease, the first step is to find a functional medicine practitioner who can properly diagnose and treat the disease.  Remember that with Lyme disease, time is critical. As is getting the proper treatment.

Call our office and learn about an affordable way to get care from Lyme-literate practitioners certified in integrative medicine and natural therapies with our Access Membership plan. Call today – (212)-696-HEAL(4325).

References:

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/33/6/780.full

https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease#symptoms

https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/arthritis-lyme-disease

https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease-chronic-persistent

https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402110029.htm

Mysterious Symptoms? Biotoxins Could Be to Blame

Mysterious Symptoms? Biotoxins Could Be to Blame

If you’ve been struggling with mysterious symptoms and having a hard time pinpointing the root cause of seemingly unrelated health issues, you should consider biotoxins. Biotoxins can come from insect bites, mold growing in your home, and many other sources. I’ve noticed an increasing number of biotoxin-related illnesses in my practice, especially in younger individuals and I believe this rise is happening across the country.

You see, biotoxins cause widespread chronic inflammation, which in turn causes symptoms throughout the body’s systems. This can cause nonspecific symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, general malaise, vertigo, and headaches. Symptoms such as these can be confusing, even for your doctor, which is how biotoxin illness has largely gone mis– and underdiagnosed.

One biotoxin illness, chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), up until recently wasn’t taken very seriously (unfortunately, it still isn’t taken seriously by some medical professionals). As a result, many patients end up defeatedly going from doctor’s office to doctor’s office, at a loss for what’s happening to their body. We now know CIRS is a very real condition, and it is caused by biotoxins. CIRS is considered a subtype of biotoxin illness.

So how do you know if you’ve been exposed to a biotoxin? What are some of the signs, and what can you do? Let’s take closer look at what biotoxins are and how they affect your health.

What are biotoxins?

Biotoxins are a group of substances that are toxic to humans and biological in nature. They can be made by plants, bacteria, fungi or animals. Biotoxins are usually a defense mechanism for the creator, though not always.

Biotoxins have a wide range of negative effects on the human body, targeting different systems – such as neurotoxins, which impact the nervous system and cytotoxins, which impact individual cells.

The two biotoxins I’ve seen impacting my patients most in the past decade, are:

  1. Mold biotoxins  – mycotoxins
  2. Biotoxins created by the tick borne microbes, like Lyme disease causing microbe – Borrelia Burgdorferi

Mycotoxins and Lyme biotoxins are both proving to be a silent crisis and the medical community is only just now realizing how bad they are.

Why are these biotoxin-related illnesses on the rise?

Both mold related illnesses and Lyme disease are on the rise in America. With mold, it’s mostly due to the fact that we now build our houses out of paper and wood, which when combined with moisture is a perfect breeding ground for mold. An estimated 50 percent of American homes now contain toxic mold and an estimated 80 percent of all CIRS cases are caused by water damaged homes.

And when it comes to Lyme disease, it’s thought that the rise is due to many factors. One of which is  climate change and the elimination of predators of carriers (mostly rodents), due to deforestation and habitat damage. Lyme disease is most prevalent in New England, and I’ve personally seen a significant increase in my own patients who hardly leave urban area of New York City.

Effects of biotoxins

Once you are exposed to a biotoxin, the immune system flags the invader and works to have it broken down and removed. If someone is exposed repeatedly or in sufficient levels (living in a moldy home, for example), the biotoxin can’t fully be removed and sets off a series of inflammatory responses throughout the body.

It’s much like digging a hole in sand. If the there’s too much, can be impossible to get very far as sand continuously fills the hole while you’re digging. With your body, if you don’t remove the assaulting toxin it wears your immune systems down.

Then there are some individuals who have genetic predisposition to CIRS that is HLA gene determined. These individuals are much more sensitive to this whole process because their immune system doesn’t properly ‘flag’ the invading biotoxin or have harder time to remove them from the body.  In this case, the biotoxins are free to wreak havoc throughout the body because they are never fully removed.

This sets off a cascade of inflammatory events. Firstly, through binding to receptors throughout the body. Then, the body begins to recognize the biotoxin, which causes a cyclical upregulation of numerous inflammation causing pathways.

Essentially, biotoxins cause a vicious cycle of inflammation that requires intervention, especially if you have the HLA-DR gene. An estimated 25 percent of the population has this genetic mutation, which makes it difficult for your body to rid itself of toxins.

How do you know if you’ve been exposed to biotoxins?

When you’ve been exposed to a biotoxin, your symptoms could be acute or chronic depending on the biotoxin, potency, length of exposure, your genetic status, and more. One thing is certain though – you want to address it earlier rather than later. The longer you go untreated (especially if you’re still being exposed to the toxin), the more complex your symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment will become.

Symptoms of biotoxin illness include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Sinus problems
  • Memory difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Numbness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Metallic taste
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nerve pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Weight gain
  • Night sweats
  • Excessive thirst
  • Gastrointestinal related issues
  • The inability to distinguish between subtle differences in color

If you suspect you’ve been exposed to biotoxins you can request an appointment here. If you’re not in the New York area, I recommend finding a functional medicine doctor who has experience in biotoxin illnesses.

Biotoxin related medical conditions

Biotoxins themselves can cause medical conditions and their inflammatory hijacking of the immune system can cause serious illnesses. Biotoxin related medical conditions include:

  • Chronic inflammatory response syndrome
  • Lyme disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Alzheimer’s disease

It’s quite possible we are only beginning to fully realize how harmful biotoxins are. Only recently a subset of Alzheimer’s disease was identified as being caused by mycotoxins.

The Visual Contrast Sensitivity test is a good place to start

The Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) test checks your ability to differentiate details, which is an indicator of neuroinflammation. A major cause of neuroinflammation is exposure to biotoxins – Mold and Lyme are some of the most common. There are other causes of neuroinflammation besides biotoxins, this is just one common cause.

The VCS test is a good place to start if you think you’ve been exposed to biotoxins because you can do it at home, it only takes 10 minutes, and it’s only $10.  If you test positive for neuroinflammation, you should request an appointment immediately. In 2015, over 95 percent of all new Lyme disease cases occurred in only 14 states – New York was one of those states.

When you’ve been exposed to biotoxins, it’s important to seek out a doctor experienced in these illnesses because they are confusing and frequently misdiagnosed. I regularly have patients who come see me that have been searching for the cause of their mysterious illness for years. If you have been struggling with mysterious symptoms, I urge you to check for biotoxin exposure.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153206/
http://www.survivingmold.com/docs/Berndtson_essay_2_CIRS.pdf
http://time.com/3959736/lyme-disease/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/3122
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789584/
https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/index.html