The issue of treating Lyme disease is a complicated one. This is primarily because Lyme disease is split into two distinct phases: acute and chronic. While acute Lyme is an accepted condition, chronic Lyme exists in a medical grey area. Many medical professionals aren’t fully convinced of its existence, and even the American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) hasn’t legitimised it yet. Despite this, thousands of people suffer from similar symptoms as a result of long-term Lyme disease. This leaves the treatment of the disease in a similarly grey area. How can you treat a disease that doesn’t officially exist? This question is at the root of many patients’ and Lyme specialists’ day-to-day issues. Cost is another concern. So exactly how much does it cost to treat Lyme disease?
What is Lyme Disease?
This is not a simple question. But let’s first define what Lyme disease is, and what it isn’t. Lyme is spread by tick bites, specifically the black-legged tick (or deer tick) in America, and the sheep tick in Europe. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is the genus Borrelia burgdorferi. This is a particularly resistant and insidious bacteria that the immune system often has a hard time dealing with. Not all ticks carry Borrelia bacteria, but through lack of visibility and lack of education, the disease is fast becoming a pandemic. Lyme disease is not traditionally contagious between humans, and can’t be transmitted through inhalation.
What are the Differences Between Acute and Chronic Lyme?
Acute Lyme refers to the initial stages of the disease. This bears similarities to the onset of many vector-borne disorders, with generalised symptoms that mimic the flu. The tell-tale Lyme sign is a bullseye-shaped rash at the site of the bite. However, this is not always present, and Lyme often gets misdiagnosed or ignored at this crucial juncture. In time, the flu-like symptoms will pass and more debilitating long-term symptoms will emerge. This constitutes the onset of chronic Lyme, which involves both infection symptoms and inflammation symptoms. These inflammation symptoms are the body’s overinflated response to the immovable Borrelia infection and are often some of the most distressing issues for patients, including significant joint pain and crippling fatigue.
How Do You Treat Lyme Disease?
Acute Lyme is treated with antibiotics, which usually do an efficient job of clearing up the infection and supporting the patient’s full recovery. However, time is critical here. Like many diseases and disorders, the earlier Lyme is detected the better. If it continues its trajectory to the chronic form, not only does it become harder to treat, it’s harder to find medical professionals well-versed in it. Since Chronic Lyme represents both infection and inflammation symptoms, antibiotics alone aren’t enough to repress it. The inflammation side of the condition needs to be addressed with anti-inflammatory nutritional programs supported by natural supplements.
What is the Cost of Lyme Disease Treatment?
Tallying the cost of Lyme disease treatment is no easy feat, at least when it comes to the chronic form. The cost of acute Lyme disease treatment is as much as a doctor’s visit and the requisite antibiotics, as long as it is diagnosed correctly. Chronic Lyme is a very different matter. BCA-clinic, a Lyme specialist clinic based in Germany, has a long history of dealing with the chronic form of the disease. The pricing of their treatment completely depends on the patient’s individual needs, as there are many variables when it comes to chronic Lyme. The clinic will first conduct a number of tests, including their highly specific new Lyme ELISpot blood test, to gauge where a patient stands with their disease. The ratio of infection and inflammation symptoms, and the presence of those symptoms, can vary wildly from patient to patient. The treatment path is then determined based on those results. That’s why there’s a guide instead of a specific price plan.
Treatment length also depends on a patient’s particular responsiveness to the therapy, as well as the specifics of their own case. Treatment plans for chronic Lyme can last anywhere from three to 18 months, and potentially longer still if there are any snags in the plan. A patient might also have to receive a number of therapies based on the location of the infection; neuroborreliosis, for example, occurs when the Borrelia bacteria breaches the blood brain barrier. It can cause all sorts of cognitive symptoms that might not appear as Lyme at all. In addition, co-infections (any infections transferred simultaneously with Lyme from the original tick bite) have to be dealt with in the same treatment plan. This can also affect treatment length and inhibit recovery.
Does Insurance Cover Lyme Disease?
The bad news is that, in line with official pronouncements, the majority of insurance companies don’t recognise chronic Lyme as an official disorder. The CDC states that Lyme disease can be treated with 30 days of antibiotics or less, so that is the policy that insurance companies follow. The price and length of chronic Lyme treatment is all the more reason to catch the disease early, when full, rapid recovery is highly possible, and medical costs are comparatively low.