What To Do If You Suspect You Have Lyme Disease
Please note that we DO NOT have any medical experience. Any advice given is based on our own experiences with Lyme disease. Please consult your GP before making any decisions about your healthcare.
We have listed some options that are available to you in Ireland or the U.K. if you suspect that you have Lyme disease.
Contact your G.P.
If you suspect that you may have Lyme disease there are two options for blood tests available through your G.P. The results of these tests can take from 7 working days to 4 weeks to come back.
Blood Test Results
Please note that a negative blood test result should not be used to rule out a possible Lyme infection as the tests for Lyme can often be inaccurate for a number of reasons including recent antibiotic treatment, depleted immune system (your immune system can't produce the antibodies that are searched for when performing the test for Lyme disease) and length of time since infection. Diagnosis MUST be made based on clinical findings, including symptoms. A full list of symptoms that have been associated with Lyme can be found here.
Testing and Treatment Guidelines written by an expert Lyme doctor from the U.S.
Please see Dr. Burrascanos Guidelines for treatment of Lyme disease and Co-Infections. This is a very useful guide to treatment that was written by a doctor in the US who has spent over 20 years treating patients with Lyme. I would highly recommend you have a read through this. On page 19 he speaks about treatment after being bitten by a tick. It may be helpful to show this to your doctor.
Further testing options
Another option for blood tests is to organise private testing. There are some labs that we know of both in Europe and America who carry out Lyme testing. Please note that your consultant may not accept overseas test results.
- IGENEX – This lab is based in California, US. They specialize in Lyme borreliosis testing amongst other things. More details can be found at www.igenex.com. It costs approx €270 for both the IgM and IgG but is one of the most accurate antibody tests available at the moment. They will post you out a kit and you can get the blood taken by a nurse at your local surgery. You then send the blood by courier to the lab. It does take six weeks for the results to come back by post.
- Melisa Labs - this test is for antigens not antibodies and considered far more accurate, particularly with regards to an active ongoing infection. They have a UK office that will send a test kit out to you, plus an application form. More information can be found here.
- BCA labs – a lab in Germany which does an amazing array of different tests regarding Lyme and its various co- infections. More information about BCA labs can be found here.
- A new lab offering similar testing is Armin Labs, for more information on the tests they offer go to: http://www.arminlabs.com/en
Some doctors may prescribe antibiotic therapy to treat Lyme disease based on the results from any of the tests listed on the testing page on our site.
Further treatment options
There is a clinic based in the UK called 'The Breakspear'. They can help with diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. We have heard many reports from people being treated with success by them. The only problem is it can be expensive. More information can be found at http://breakspearmedical.com/treatments/lyme-disease/.
Bull’s Eye Rash/Erythema Migrans
About 50% of people who are bitten by a Lyme infected tick will present with a bulls eye rash. This can be a useful diagnostic tool. Images of a bulls eye rash can be found here.
Record your symptoms
If you suspect you have Lyme then it would be useful for you to record your symptoms on a daily basis, this can then be used when you are meeting with doctors or specialists. It can be helpful to them when making a diagnosis. It can be helpful to you if you are finding it difficult to get adequate care for your condition. We have a symptom chart available on our website you can print it off and fill it in or save it to your desktop and fill it in using your PC. The symptom chart can be found here.
Follow us on Facebook
Tick Talk Ireland have a group and a Facebook page where Jenny, a Tick Talk officer, often posts updates and new information about Lyme disease and other diseases such as CFS, M.E. etc. View or join our group here.
Tick Talk Ireland Surveys
We are currently compiling information to produce some up to date statistics about Lyme disease and ticks in Ireland. We’d like to gather information on the places where ticks are most abundant and then test the ticks for borrelia (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease). If you have a spare moment and would be interested in participating we have some very short surveys on our website here. Thank you for your help.
If you have any further questions please see our FAQ’s where you’ll find an abundance of information on lots of subjects such as:
- Testing and prevalence of Lyme in Ireland
- How to tell the difference between a tick bite and a mosquito bite
- Who is at risk
- How to keep ticks from your garden
If you have any questions, suggestions or comments you can contact us here.