According to leading medical experts, ticks are among the most dangerous animals in the world. A tick can transmit its pathogens to the human organism with a single bite. According to current studies, more and more people are suffering from a sometimes life-threatening neuroborreliosis.
What is neuroborreliosis?
Neuroborreliosis is a dangerous infectious disease. A special type of bacteria is responsible for the occurrence of the individual symptoms. See percomputer for Cephalhematoma Explanation.
Since the individual bacteria spread relatively quickly in the human organism, several organs are often affected by the infection at the same time. For example, neuroborreliosis can lead to permanent damage to the eyes.
In addition, the heart of the affected patients can also lose efficiency. In order to prevent the occurrence of Lyme neuroborreliosis, the possible causes must be reliably combated.
As already mentioned, neuroborreliosis appears as the result of a tick bite. The responsible bacteria are transferred to the respective body during the bite.
In the Federal Republic of Germany, around 35 percent of all ticks are infected with the dangerous pathogen. Since a large number of tick bites are not realized by the people affected, there is no early treatment in most cases.
In addition, only a small number of infected people develop clinical symptoms. In order to prevent multiple organ failure, for example, neuroborreliosis must be diagnosed as quickly as possible.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
In the case of acute neuroborreliosis, the first symptoms appear a few weeks to a few months after the bite of an infected tick. The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi causes inflammation of the meninges and nerve roots of the spinal cord, which is associated with severe pain along the affected nerve pathways. The pain, which occurs primarily at night, is often accompanied by sensory disturbances, paraesthesia and paralysis.
Paralysis of the facial nerve occurs particularly frequently: The doctor speaks of a one- or two-sided facial paralysis. Typical signs of this are drooping corners of the mouth, incomplete eyelid closure and the inability to frown. Taste disturbances can occasionally occur. Inflammation of other cranial nerves can lead to hearing loss or paralysis of the eye muscles.
Chronic neuroborreliosis develops over months or years. Characteristic is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, which progresses slowly and causes coordination disorders, unsteady gait and bladder emptying disorders. Language skills can also be impaired, and hearing can also decrease.
Occasionally, epileptic seizures occur as a result of neuroborreliosis, lack of concentration, clouding of consciousness and hallucinations can indicate a brain-organic psychosyndrome. In some cases, sufferers only develop very unspecific symptoms such as severe tiredness, reduced performance and listlessness, which can easily be confused with depression.
Diagnosis & History
Diagnosing Lyme neuroborreliosis is extremely difficult in most cases. Nevertheless, a corresponding examination can be carried out by the family doctor. As part of the examination, the course of the disease to date is examined more closely.
So that a targeted therapy can be tackled, the patient must, among other things, name the symptoms that have appeared so far. For example, headaches can be a first sign of neuroborreliosis. Not infrequently, the affected patients also complain about a dominant feeling of physical weakness. After the questioning, the treating physician scans the lymph nodes of the person concerned.
A swelling in the area of the lymph nodes can also be seen as a first sign of neuroborreliosis. As part of the physical examination, the doctor treating you can also determine possible bite injuries. If there is a first suspicion of neuroborreliosis, a blood test must be tackled. Neuroborreliosis can only be reliably treated after all examinations have been carried out.
Neuroborreliosis is already a complication of Lyme disease, in which the brain and nerve tracts are infected with the Borreliosis bacterium. This complication occurs in about ten percent of Lyme disease infections. But even within this particular form of Borrelia infection, there are still different forms.
As a rule, neuroborreliosis can be cured with appropriate treatment if the bacterium is completely eliminated. However, an additional infection of the spinal cord and the brain can occur in around five to ten percent of all people affected by neuroborreliosis. In these cases, the course of the disease is even more complicated.
In these cases, the inflammatory processes usually last longer than six months. But here too, many sufferers still have good chances of a complete cure. However, it can happen that chronic symptoms set in when the nervous system is severely impaired. This is particularly the case when the infection is followed by autoimmune reactions of the immune system directed against the nervous system.
It is well known that destroyed nerve cells can no longer be replaced. It can happen that permanent spastic gait and movement disorders as well as urinary and fecal incontinence occur. Perception, speech or hearing disorders are also observed. In some cases, chronic psychiatric complaints or constant epileptic seizures occur.
When should you go to the doctor?
If a tick has become attached, the insect should be removed from the affected person’s body with great care. It is important that the entire tick body is loosened. If there are complications or uncertainties with the correct handling, a doctor should be consulted and asked to remove the tick.
If health problems appear weeks or months after being bitten by the insect, there is a need for action. A doctor should be consulted in the event of paralysis, sensory disturbances or numbness. If the person concerned complains of problems with taste perception, reduced hearing or irregularities in the control of the eye muscles, a doctor’s visit is necessary. Pain, general discomfort, or irritability are signs of impairment that need to be evaluated and treated. In the event of coordination disorders, dizziness, unsteady gait or problems with the musculoskeletal system, a doctor should be asked for help.
The cause of the symptoms must be determined so that treatment can be initiated. If there are abnormalities in the ability to speak, there is cause for concern. A doctor should be consulted immediately if there is a reduction in language skills, as this is a special warning of the organism. If there is an irregularity in emptying the bladder, a doctor is also needed. Tiredness, a low mood and listlessness are other signs that should be investigated.
Treatment & Therapy
The early treatment of a neuroborreliosis turns out to be of fundamental importance. This is the only way to prevent serious consequences.
If the neuroborreliosis is still in an early stage, treatment with an appropriate antibiotic can be carried out. In modern medicine, people primarily rely on preparations that contain the active ingredient penicillin. If there is an intolerance to the active substance penicillin, an alternative active substance can also be used.
The active ingredient azithromycin in particular is enjoying growing popularity. Pregnant women should also avoid treatment with the active ingredient penicillin. Since neuroborreliosis is often only recognized very late, the active ingredients already mentioned no longer work reliably. For this reason, therapy with a special antibiotic must be considered.
The active ingredients contained in each case are often administered intravenously. In order to achieve the best possible result, the respective preparations should be taken over a period of at least four weeks. There are no special rules of conduct with regard to contact with other people. In principle, neuroborreliosis cannot be transmitted from person to person.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis for Lyme neuroborreliosis is good if it is diagnosed and treated at an early stage. In about 90 percent of cases, at least two weeks of antibiotic therapy works well and frees the affected person completely or at least to a large extent from his or her symptoms. Residual symptoms such as tiring quickly, pain, memory disorders or neurological limitations are reported by 5 to 30 percent of sufferers after an infection has gone through – depending on the study. As a rule, everyday and professional life is not or not significantly affected by this, and life expectancy is not reduced by early detection and treatment of neuroborreliosis.
In most cases, facial paralysis that occurs as part of the disease recedes after one to two months, and in five percent of patients it lasts longer or permanently. The disease can take a severe course if the meninges are affected by the inflammation (meningitis). In this case, in addition to a pronounced feeling of illness, disturbances of consciousness up to coma can occur. If left untreated, the meningitis can lead to death. Possible long-term consequences of surviving meningitis are speech and movement disorders, perception disorders, incontinence or seizures. Occasionally, meningitis also pulls psychiatric disorders such as pronounced mood swings ordepression after themselves.
As a result of the possible complications, neuroborreliosis must always be prevented. As part of prevention, tick bites should be avoided. For this reason, clothing should be worn for as long as possible on excursions. Pants must also have a waistband. Appropriate ointments do not usually prevent a tick bite.
Despite significant neurological problems, the course of neuroborreliosis is almost always benign with appropriate therapy. After successful treatment with antibiotics, however, follow-up examinations should be carried out over a longer period of time. These mainly consist of regular monitoring of the clinical symptoms. If this deteriorates, a repeat examination of the CSF is often necessary.
Detailed differential diagnoses can also clarify whether the after-effects of Lyme disease or another neurological disease are involved. The so-called post-Lyme disease syndrome is often reported in the medical literature in connection with neuroborreliosis. However, scientific studies show that such symptoms have nothing to do with surviving Lyme disease.
Appropriate follow-up measures in these cases relate to other diseases that must be specifically diagnosed in each individual case. In any case, it has been shown that prolonged treatment with antibiotics usually does not change the existing symptoms of the disease. On the contrary, these measures are often rather harmful to the organism. In some cases they can even be fatal.
However, it is possible that these are neurological symptoms such as depression, which first appeared after neuroborreliosis and are therefore associated with it. In rare cases, however, complications such as a stroke occur as part of neuroborreliosis. Follow-up care always depends on the severity of the complication.
You can do that yourself
If signs of Lyme disease are noticed, a doctor should be consulted. If neuroborreliosis has already developed, effective self-help measures can usually no longer be used. However, the sick can support the medical therapy by adhering to the doctor’s guidelines regarding personal hygiene and physical exertion.
Most often, the doctor will recommend a stress-free lifestyle with a healthy and balanced diet. If physical complaints such as movement disorders or neurological problems occur, the patient needs appropriate aids. In addition to the medicines prescribed by the doctor, various natural remedies can also be used. Pain-relieving devil’s claw and aloe vera, for example, have proven effective. These agents are applied to the bite site in the form of ointments and primarily help against the pain at the point of origin of the disease. Infections in the body can only be treated with drugs. The patient should carefully monitor the body’s signals so that the medication can be regularly adjusted to new symptoms.
In the later stages of the disease, therapy focuses on accepting the condition and its potential health consequences. Younger people in particular often suffer from depression and anxiety after an infection, which must be dealt with as part of psychological treatment.