What does Lyme disease has to do with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
Dr Sam Donta presented lecture to Mass. CFIDS/FM Association members on 2002
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Gulf War Illness have identical symptoms.
Some people believe that Lymes may be one of the causative factors in both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia symptoms.
Others believe that some Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia patients misdiagnosed chronic Lymes disease patients and vice versa.
Some believe that there is no such thing as chronic Lymes disease; instead, these patients actually have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia symptoms are only distinguished by a positive tender point exam, that is often positive in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Gulf War Illness as well. Clinically it is almost impossible to distinguish or differentiate these illnesses.
The origin of Lymes is clear. Spirochetal bacteria transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick cause Lymes. This bacterium is the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.
The diagnosis of Lyme disease is primarily based on clinical grounds, just as with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Once other disorders are ruled out, the combination of symptoms over months is sufficient to make a presumptive clinical diagnosis.
The diagnosis of Lymes is made easier if a typical rash is present during the early phase of infection. After that, it is difficult to distinguish the flu-like illness that can occur a few weeks later, or can recur over a number of months.
Some patients develop severe headaches and an aseptic (infection free) meningitis, which frequently is diagnosed instead as viral meningitis. If a Bell’s palsy occurs (drooping of one side of the face), the possibility of Lime disease is likely. If an unprovoked arthritis occurs, causing swelling of a single joint, especially the knee, but sometimes more than one joint, then the possibility of Lyme disease should also be given high consideration.
The chronic phase of the disease that causes most problems for physicians and patients, because of the lack of objective signs and the presence of so many symptoms that it causes some doctors to attribute psychological reasons for the patients’ symptoms. Many patients then receive a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia symptoms , when they may have underlying chronic Lyme disease as the cause of their symptoms.
Parallel Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Lyme Disease Symptoms Patterns
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Gulf War Illness have identical symptoms, and Fibromyalgia symptoms are only distinguished by a positive tender point exam, that is often positive in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Gulf War Illness as well. Clinically it is almost impossible to distinguish or differentiate these illnesses.
Chronic Lyme disease is remarkably similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and gulf war illness. These multi-symptom disorders have similar symptom patterns consisting of fatigue and neuro cognitive dysfunction, along with numerous other symptoms that probably relate to altered neurological function.
Men And Women Effect- Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Lymes Disease
Dr. Donta reported on the effects of gender on host susceptibility in Lyme disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia symptoms and other multi-symptom diseases.
In all these disorders, women appear to be more affected than men are, usually at about 2:1 ratios. He noted that neural cells contain estrogen and progesterone receptors, and that herpes viruses can utilize estrogen receptors to gain access to the reservoir in the cell nucleus.
Treatment of chronic Lyme disease also seems to be gender-dependent to some degree, with men generally having speedier and complete recoveries compared to women. He concluded that gender relationships are known for a number of infectious diseases, so it would not be surprising that such a relationship exists for chronic Lyme disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia symptoms and other multi-symptom disorders.
Chronic Limes Disease
30-50% of acute Lyme disease patients went on to develop chronic Lyme disease. Additionally, some previously asymptomatic patients may reactivate their infection following various stressors such as trauma, surgery, pregnancy, coexisting illness, antibiotics treatment, or severe psychological stress.
The Lyme vaccine can also reactivate their infection. Similar triggers such as trauma, surgery etc. are known to precipitate Fibromyalgia symptoms and Gulf War Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as well. This is not a new phenomenon with infectious diseases. We know infectious diseases (i.e. TB) will reactivate after illnesses or surgery– any stressor.
Dr. Donta is a nationally recognized expert on Lyme disease. He is the Director of the Lyme Disease Unit at Boston Medical Center and a Professor of Medicine at BU Medical School. He is a bacteriologist and an infectious disease specialist, who views Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia symptoms from that vantage point. He is also a consultant to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and presented at NIH’s scientific meetings on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome research.
Dr. Donta has treated hundreds of patients with Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Gulf War Illness. He pointed out the similarities between them, and found there were few differences.
*As brought by Bonnie Gorman RN – Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation