Lyme disease can usually be cured if treated promptly and properly. However, without treatment the disease can continue to progress and affect more parts of the body.
Medications: Early stage Lyme disease is treated with a three to four week course of oral (by mouth) antibiotics, such as amoxicillin (Amoxil®), doxycycline (Vibramycin®), and cefuroxime (Ceftin®). Advanced disease may require intravenous (IV, or through the veins) ceftriaxone (Rocephin®) or penicillin (PenG®) for four weeks or longer.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is often given to manage the pain of Lyme disease. Acetaminophen can relieve pain but does not reduce inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory medication is often given to treat the inflammation of Lyme disease. Aspirin can help reduce inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a type of medication that help reduce the pain and swelling of the joints and decrease stiffness. NSAIDs reduce pain when taken at a low dose, and relieve inflammation when taken at a higher dose. NSAIDs that can be purchased without a prescription include ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) and naproxen (Alleve®). Examples of NSAIDs that require a prescription include nabumetone (Relafen®), indomethacin (Indocin®), and piroxicam (Feldene®). NSAIDs may cause stomach upset, nausea, and vomiting.
Exercise: Once Lyme disease is under control, doing exercises can help strengthen joints and muscles. Exercises to improve the range of motion of the joints will also assist with the individual's ability to resume normal activities.
Traditional or theoretical uses
Alexander technique: The Alexander technique is an educational program that teaches movement patterns and postures, with an aim to improve coordination and balance, reduce tension, relieve pain, alleviate fatigue, improve various medical conditions, and promote well-being. Traditionally, the Alexander technique has been used for the supportive treatment of Lyme disease.
Beta-glucan: Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber derived from the cell walls of algae, bacteria, fungi, yeast, and plants. Beta-glucan may help stimulate the immune system. Traditionally, beta-glucan has been used for the supportive treatment of Lyme disease.
Colloidal silver: Colloidal silver is a suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in a colloidal base. Colloidal silver is not generally recognized as safe or effective. However, some researchers believe that it has antibacterial properties, which may warrant further studies. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, colloidal silver is most commonly used as a natural antibiotic or healing agent. It is either applied to the skin or ingested as a drink to promote healing or to combat disease. Some integrative practitioners use colloidal silver for the supportive treatment of Lyme disease.
Long-term use of silver preparations can lead to argyria, a permanent condition in which silver salts deposit in the skin, eyes, and internal organs. The skin can often appear ashen-gray due to the deposition of the silver salts. Argyria has been mistaken for cyanotic heart disease.
Essiac: Essiac® contains a combination of herbs, including burdock root (Arctium lappa), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), slippery elm inner bark (Ulmus fulva), and Turkish rhubarb (Rheum palmatum). The original formula was developed by the Canadian nurse Rene Caisse (1888-1978) in the 1920s ("Essiac" is Caisse spelled backwards). The recipe is said to be based on a traditional Ojibwa (Native American) remedy, and Caisse administered the formula by mouth and injection to numerous cancer patients during the 1920s and 1930s. The exact ingredients and amounts in the original formulation remain a secret. Some integrative practitioners use Essiac® for the supportive treatment of Lyme disease.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy is tailored to the patient's condition and health issues. A common goal of physical therapy is to increase how the patient functions at home and at work. Some integrative practitioners use physical therapy to stimulate immunity and for the supportive treatment of Lyme disease.
A Lyme disease vaccine is under development but is not yet available. The only sure way to prevent the disease is to avoid exposure to infected ticks. Healthcare professionals recommend avoiding areas where wild mice might live, such as the edges of yards, fields, and woods with low, dense groundcover.
Healthcare professionals also recommend to: wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into socks during outside activities,wear a hat, and tie hair back; use insecticides to repel or kill ticks. Repellents containing the compound meta-N,N-diethyl toluamide (DEET) can be used on exposed skin except for the face, but they do not kill ticks and are not 100% effective in discouraging ticks from biting. It is important when using any of these chemicals to follow label directions carefully, especially when using them on children; check for ticks after outdoor activities. Check body areas where ticks are commonly found, such as behind the knees, between the fingers and toes, under the arms, in and behind the ears, and on the neck, hairline, and top of the head. Check places where clothing presses on the skin; and remove attached ticks promptly. Removing a tick before it has been attached for more than 24 hours greatly reduces the risk of infection. Use tweezers, and grab as closely to the skin as possible. Do not try to remove ticks by squeezing them, coating them with petroleum jelly, or burning them with a match.
Large brown ticks that are commonly found on dogs and cattle do not carry the Lyme disease bacterium. When removing a very small tick to have it tested for Lyme disease, place it in a clean pill vial or tight-sealed plastic storage bag with a moistened cotton swab. Contact a healthcare provider and local health department.
Monitor the site of the bite for the appearance of a rash beginning three to 30 days after the bite. If a rash or other early symptoms develop, see a doctor immediately.
It is recommended by healthcare professionals to visit a doctor if the individuals have been bitten by a tick in areas where there is a high risk for deer ticks.