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Is Lyme disease really that difficult to identify?

by , 02 July 2015

This week, singer Avril Lavigne opened up about her struggle with Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness she says left her bedridden for months and desperate for answers.

The 30-year-old said she saw many doctors and underwent a battery of tests in the last year, but that it wasn't until she found a Lyme disease specialist that she found out what was really wrong.

So why did it take Lavigne so long to get answers? And could her experience happen to you, too? Read on to find out.

NYC doctor admits that Lyme disease is sometimes difficult to identify

Anne R Bass, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, says Lyme disease is tough to identify in some cases. But in general, doctors usually pick it up and provide treatment a lot quicker than in Lavigne’s case. Her degree of misdiagnosis isn’t very common, Dr Bass says.
 
On the other hand though, pinpointing this kind of infection isn’t an exact science. Symptoms aren’t always clear, Dr Bass notes.
 

The most prominent symptoms of Lyme disease

“Many people will develop a bulls-eye rash, which makes it pretty easy to diagnose,” Dr Bass explains. But this tell-tale symptom is sometimes super faint or on hidden parts of the body. Some people don’t get one at all.
 
She notes that other early symptoms include fever, aches and pains attributed to the infection. 
 
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Dr Bass explains that without a rash, you might not see a need to visit the doctor. And if you do, your doctor might not pick up on Lyme disease. That’s where the tough part comes in. But such incidences are rare, she says.
 
If you do get Lyme disease, though, treatment is fairly simple.
 

What Lyme disease treatment involves

Once a doctor diagnoses you with Lyme disease, you’ll have to take a two or three week course of antibiotics to help you feel better and have all your symptoms eliminated. If you leave the infection untreated for several months, however, you’ll need a longer course of drugs. 
 
In extreme cases, you might need to have your antibiotics given to you through an IV. 
 



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