Lyme disease is caused by a Borrelia bacterial infection. Humans contract this infection from the bite of a tick carrying this specific bacterium. It is one of the most common tick-borne illnesses seen across Europe and the United States.
The acute or local symptoms of a tick bite seen in Lyme last from 1 week to 1 month after the tick bite. In some patients, symptoms can even be seen months or years after the initial infection—this is termed “late disseminated Lyme disease” and can be a result of untreated or poorly treated Lyme disease.
Such patients may have damaged nerves, brains, eyes, joints, and even the heart.
Another concern in patients with Lyme is the occurrence of co-infections, and mycoplasma infection is the most common Lyme co-infection.
Co-infection is a term used in cases where the patient is affected by multiple pathogenic species, i.e., by more than one bacterium, virus, or parasite at the same time.
Lyme disease and co-infection
As explained earlier, Lyme disease is caused in humans by a tick bite. Tick-borne illnesses are zoonotic in nature, i.e., they can be transmitted from animals to humans. A tick can be a carrier of multiple pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, etc.).
So, a single tick bite that leads to Lyme disease can also be responsible for transmitting another tick-borne infection to the same patient at the same time.
In patients with Lyme, Lyme borreliosis, mycoplasmosis, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Powassan virus, and Borellia Miyamotoi can occur as co-infections.
Learn more about Lyme disease co-infections here.
Lyme and mycoplasma infection
Mycoplasma infections are most commonly seen in patients with Lyme disease. Unfortunately, most doctors do not suspect or are able to detect a mycoplasma infection as they are difficult to detect.
A mycoplasma co-infection is seen in almost 75% of Lyme cases.
What is Mycoplasma?
Mycoplasma is a unique bacterium that typically does not have a cell wall. Bacteria with a surrounding cell wall can be destroyed using an antibiotic treatment. Thus, mycoplasma infections are resistant to multiple antibiotics.
An interesting retrospective analysis report of 200 patients with Lyme disease being treated for co-infections suggested that newer drug regimens like diaminodiphenyl sulfone reduced the severity of eight major Lyme symptoms and improved treatment outcomes in chronic Lyme disease and posttreatment Lyme disease syndrome.
As mycoplasma do not have a cell wall, it is difficult to treat these bacteria with antibiotics because they can change their size and shape to enter areas where other bacteria cannot enter.
It is also the smallest bacteria—about 4000 of them can fit into a single red blood cell in your body (as opposed to only 10-15 per red blood cell in other bacterial infections).
Besides these unique features, mycoplasma infections also affect the immune system’s function to a large extent. It begins with chronic low-grade inflammation. Long-term inflammation in the body eventually weakens its defense mechanism, allowing the bacteria to spread further.
Common sites of mycoplasma infection in the body are:
- Nasal passages and sinuses
- Lungs (Mycoplasma pneumonia)
- Lining of the intestinal tract
- Small areas in the brain
- Lining of joints
Symptoms of Lyme and mycoplasma co-infection
As discussed earlier, mycoplasma infection is the most common co-infection in patients with Lyme. However, atypical features of the bacteria cause atypical symptoms. These can go undetected or unnoticed for a long period of time, and this is one of the major reasons why a mycoplasma co-infection is difficult to detect.
The low-grade chronic inflammation and affection of the immune system in patients can present differently. Each patient can have a different set of symptoms, which may vary in both intensity and severity. Most patients initially have fatigue, lethargy, or generalized weakness.
A classic example of the atypical presentation of tick-borne co-infections is seen in a case study of a 14-year-old girl who presented with anorexia nervosa (a clinical disorder manifesting with excessive food restriction because of an irrational fear of weight gain). She tested serologically positive for Borrelia burgdorferi, Babesia microti, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
The most common type of mycoplasma infection is mycoplasma pneumonia. Even though the lung tissue is affected, almost all patients only present symptoms like a sore throat, fever, headache, weakness, and a runny or stuffy nose—all indicative of a basic upper respiratory tract infection.
which is why mycoplasma pneumonia is also termed “walking pneumonia,” as the patient presents only mild symptoms, they can go undiagnosed for weeks or even months, and they rarely require intensive treatment or hospitalization.
Patients who have previously suffered from mycoplasma pneumonia are left with a lingering, chronic cough that can last for months. This type of cough is usually triggered when the person laughs, talks loudly, or takes deep breaths.
Unfortunately, by the time the infection is detected and treated, it has already spread to different organs of the body.
The presentation of this widespread infection depends heavily on the status of the patient’s immune system. It can take weeks or even months before other manifestations appear in patients. It is seen that 30%-70% of patients with Lyme carry mycoplasma infection without showing any symptoms.
Another uncommon and atypical presentation of mycoplasma–Lyme co-infection is recurrent episodes of migraine. Patients complain of repeated episodes of mild to severe episodes of migraine, the cause of which again remains undiagnosed for months or years.
Mycoplasma bacteria can also affect the muscles, leading to aches, pain, and muscle stiffness. Muscle involvement is seen in systemic mycoplasma infections (i.e., involvement of more than two systems of the body).
Localized Lyme–mycoplasma co-infection:
Different organs or systems of the body where mycoplasma infection can present locally (and does not spread in the whole body) are:
Nervous system: The internal lining of the nerve tissue in mycoplasma bacteria is called the myelin sheath. This degenerates the lining, and therefore, mycoplasma infection is often linked to multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The symptoms of nerve involvement include neuropathic pain that causes burning and tingling primarily in the hands and feet.
Other symptoms include insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, and depression.
Digestive system: Mycoplasma infection causes slow, low-grade chronic inflammation of the gut, leading to nutritional deficiencies and weight loss.
If the stomach lining is affected, patients can experience symptoms like burning (acidity), nausea, and recurring pain in the upper abdominal area.
Joints: The bacteria cause damage to the inner lining of the joints. This causes inflammation around the joint tissue, leading to arthritis. Symptoms typically include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Heart: In very few cases, the mycoplasma bacteria can affect the inner lining of the heart and produce symptoms associated with pericarditis, endocarditis, and myocarditis.
Ear: Mycoplasma infection in the ears can lead to otitis media (middle ear infection). Sometimes, the infection can suddenly produce symptoms like hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Diagnosis of mycoplasma infection:
Serological testing is the only form of testing that can detect the presence of mycoplasma bacteria. Body fluids from the affected organ and tissue samples are collected and tested for the presence of antibodies.
Other forms of tests include blood cultures and nucleic acid amplification.
Lyme and the Herxheimer response
The emergence of the Jarisch Herxheimer reaction is another frequent event seen in Lyme disease patients.
In this reaction, the immune system of Lyme disease patients receiving antibiotic treatment sets off an inflammatory response across the entire body.
It is a moderate reaction, also referred to as a die-off reaction, and it typically manifests as symptoms that peak and disappear in 24 to 36 hours.
Learn more about Herxheimer reaction.
PEMF therapy for Lyme Disease
PEMF therapy works exceptionally well in cases of Lyme disease. It is also highly effective in managing the symptoms of co-infections associated with Lyme.
Regular PEMF therapy is known to reduce chronic pain, fatigue, weakness, and dullness. PEMF therapy is also effective in strengthening the function of a weakened immune system. Once the immune system is working at its optimal capacity, the body can then fight off any infections easily.
PEMF therapy works on the principal of sending healing radiations that work deep down at the cellular level and help in restoring the cellular functions. The idea is to match the PEMF frequency with the unique set of electromagnetic frequencies that are naturally generated by our body.
While dealing with an infection, the PEMF device frequency must be set to match the resident frequencies of these pathogens.
For optimum results, it is recommended that one use a PEMF device that gives access to a wide range of frequencies. If you are new to PEMF therapy, you can visit our website for an in-depth understanding of PEMF therapy and its advantages and uses in different disease conditions.
The Sentient Element device is one of the most unique and best PEMF devices available in the market; providing a frequency range of 7-10,000 Hz, which is unmatched by any other device available.
PEMF devices from Sentient Element have already helped hundreds of people worldwide, including patients with Lyme disease. This is the reason why Sentient Element is recommended by multiple healthcare professionals and organizations across the United States.
Read this article on how PEMF therapy can help with Lyme disease.