With many illnesses, your doctor can simply order a test and you’ll find out your diagnosis relatively quickly. Medical professionals can simply rely on science to help them accurately and efficiently diagnose and treat most conditions. Unfortunately, Lyme disease does not work in quite the same way. The condition is under-researched (which is surprising, given how many people suffer from it), and therefore there isn’t a definitive, quick and easy way to immediately diagnose Lyme disease. Although there are some tests that can help the doctor point to a Lyme diagnosis, testing becomes even more complicated if the person is in the later stages of the disease. Many patients also have the question: how much does a Lyme disease test cost? Read on for the answer, and for more information about testing for Lyme disease.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease occurs when a person is bitten by a tick carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The name originated from a town in Connecticut called Lyme, where a group of adults and children started experiencing symptoms in the 1970s. Researchers later discovered the connection between tick bites and these symptoms, but the scientific world has still not done nearly enough research to more accurately diagnose and treat the condition. Symptoms for Lyme disease include:
- Bullseye rash (an erythema migrans rash), which can appear at the site of the bite or in other places on the body
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, headache, general malaise)
- Extreme fatigue and tiredness that is not alleviated with more rest and sleep
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
- Swollen lymph nodes
Symptoms can differ from person to person (for example, not every patient will develop a rash) and can show up anywhere from three to 30 days from the initial tick bite. The symptoms can also come and go and can move about the body. Joint pain in the knees might turn to pain in the arms between one week and the next. These symptoms can indicate to a person that they’ve contracted Lyme disease, and if they’re lucky enough to not receive a misdiagnosis (which happens alarmingly often), a Lyme-informed doctor can prescribe a course of antibiotics.
What is chronic Lyme disease?
If a person does not receive treatment right away, Lyme disease can turn into a chronic condition – which makes it extremely hard to treat. Researchers are still looking into why chronic Lyme disease is so much more challenging to treat, but they do know that symptoms of late-stage Lyme disease can be debilitating (including more severe pain, damage to multiple systems in the body, and more cognitive and neurological symptoms). Some patients respond to stronger courses of antibiotics at this stage, but there are still some Lyme patients who don’t get any relief from this intervention.
How do you test for Lyme disease?
At this time, the traditional way to test for Lyme disease is a blood test called the ELISpot, followed by a Western blot test (which uses an allay to detect proteins). These tests look specifically for the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria in a patient’s body. At this time, these tests are the most accurate way to determine if a person has Lyme bacteria in their system. Unfortunately, the test can result in false positives, which makes it even more difficult for a patient to receive a correct diagnosis. Additionally, patients who have chronic Lyme might be experiencing severe symptoms but have little of the original bacteria still in their bodies. They might be notified that they haven’t tested positive for Lyme even though that’s still what is actually causing their physical issues. So, is there an over-the-counter test for Lyme disease? Some companies sell at-home Lyme disease tests, but because they’re not conducted in a lab (like at BCA), they’re not the most foolproof way to figure out if a person has Lyme. A person’s best bet is still to go through their doctor to get tested or to head to a private clinic like BCA-clinic.
What is the cost of a Lyme disease test?
The cost of a Lyme disease test can vary depending on a patient’s individual symptoms and what their doctor thinks they need to be tested for. For example, patients can get tested for a variety of things to help determine if they have Lyme. The ELISpot test through BCA would cost around €184, but if a doctor wants to test for more than one thing, the costs can be higher. Some doctors recommend a test called LymeSpot Revised as the most accurate testing option. This test typically costs around €217 at a private lab like BCA.
Is Lyme disease covered by insurance?
The NHS does cover an ELISpot test in most cases, and it is possible for people to get treatment for both acute and chronic cases of Lyme disease with insurance. However, if a person wishes to go to an outside private lab for further testing, these are often not covered by the NHS. Luckily, these tests are not exorbitantly expensive, and there are some Lyme disease-related charities that can help people pay for these kinds of tests if they don’t have the funds.
It is possible to get tested for Lyme disease, even though much more research is needed in order for the process to be streamlined for patients. If a person suspects they might have contracted Lyme (or if they’re suffering from otherwise unexplainable physical symptoms), the cost of a Lyme disease test would be well worth the money for them to discover what is making them sick. Plus, the BCA-clinic is always available to help patients get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment because they specialise in helping Lyme patients get on the path to recovery.