When it comes to managing Lyme disease, a misdiagnosis can have serious consequences. We often assume that we’re all familiar with Lyme disease, but what if the symptoms of Lyme disease look a lot like those of Parkinson’s disease?
It’s important for anyone experiencing memory loss and other neurological symptoms that could be associated with both Lyme and Parkinson’s disease to get a proper diagnosis and accurate treatment plan.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the intersection between these two diseases and examine how you can protect yourself from possible misdiagnosis.
The Consequences of a Misdiagnosis
When you have any serious condition, receiving the right diagnosis is essential. The consequences of a misdiagnosis of Lyme disease as Parkinson’s disease are severe. Patients of Lyme disease that are misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and who are not receiving the proper treatment for their disease can experience further complications and a worsened condition.
Parkinson’s disease and Lyme disease (especially later-stage, chronic Lyme disease) share many symptoms, such as fatigue, tremors, and difficulty with movement, making it difficult to differentiate between the two diseases.
Patients who have been misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease can receive the wrong amount or even the wrong kind of antipsychotic drugs. Patients treated in this way can, in turn, develop serious side effects such as tardive dyskinesia (a type of uncontrollable moving), weight gain, and even increased mortality.
For all these reasons, it is crucial that your doctor correctly diagnose your Lyme disease and not provide treatment as they would for Parkinson’s.
Lyme Disease Symptoms That Look Like Parkinson’s
The reasons a doctor could misdiagnose your Lyme disease as Parkinson’s disease is because some of the two conditions’ telltale symptoms bear striking resemblances to each other, including tremors, difficulty walking, and neurological complications.
In some cases of Lyme disease, you can experience a tremor that causes all or part of your body to shake uncontrollably, just like with Parkinson’s disease. Lyme disease can also cause memory loss or a sort of “brain fog,” which is similar to the cognitive difficulties associated with Parkinson’s disease dementia.
While each condition has its own unique symptoms (such as the rashes, arthritis, facial palsy, and headaches associated with Lyme disease or the slowness of movement and sleep problems often found with Parkinson’s patients), there is enough overlap to cause confusion.
Other Diseases Lyme Disease Can Be Mistaken With
As a side note, there are several other conditions with overlapping symptoms that can cause a misdiagnosis. For example, the recurring tiredness caused by Lyme disease can be mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome, while that same fatigue combined with joint pain and vision problems can cause a person to mistake their Lyme disease for a disease of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis.
Finally, many of the cognitive problems caused by Lyme disease can also bring to mind the neurodegenerative symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including memory loss and disorientation.
When You Should See an Expert for a Diagnosis
If you are experiencing symptoms such as memory loss, fatigue, and muscle stiffness, it is vital that you seek professional help to get the right diagnosis. As mentioned, Lyme disease can often be mistaken for Parkinson’s disease due to their similarities in symptoms.
Treating Parkinson’s Disease
However, the treatments for these two diseases are vastly different. While Parkinson’s disease currently has no cure, symptom management is possible with the proper medication, exercise, and physical therapy.
Treating Lyme Disease
On the other hand, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if caught early, but if left untreated, it can lead to serious neurological problems, heart conditions, and joint issues.
Therefore, seeing an expert in neurology or infectious diseases is crucial if you suspect you have either Lyme disease or Parkinson’s disease.
Getting a correct opinion from a professional can make a significant difference in your overall health and well-being.
How to Protect Yourself Against These Conditions
There’s no surefire way to prevent yourself from developing either Parkinson’s disease or Lyme disease. However, there are a few ways to minimize your risks for both of these life-changing conditions.
Preventing Lyme Disease
Since Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily caused by deer ticks, it is important to use EPA-approved insect repellents and wear long sleeves and pants when in wooded areas. Additionally, always check yourself for ticks after going outdoors.
If you ever find yourself developing a red “bulls’-eye” style rash on any part of your skin, head to a doctor’s office immediately to address the use of antibiotics for potential Lyme chronic infections following a tick bite.
Reducing Your Chance of Parkinson’s Disease
Meanwhile, since Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, you can’t prevent it the same way you can with an infectious disease. Several risk factors may increase the chances of developing Parkinson’s disease, including age, genetics, and exposure to environmental toxins.
However, there are also steps that you can take to minimize your risk factors for developing Parkinson’s disease. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, possibly due to its ability to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that promotes the growth and survival of neurons.
Additionally, consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and antioxidants may help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, which are thought to contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Other potential risk factors, such as head injury, should also be avoided or minimized whenever possible to reduce the risk of developing this debilitating disease.
What If You’ve Already Been Misdiagnosed?
If you suspect that you may have been misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s but could actually have Lyme disease, there are a few steps you can take to ensure an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
First, consider getting a second opinion from a qualified specialist in Lyme disease. Request blood tests for Lyme disease, as well as other conditions that can cause similar symptoms to Parkinson’s disease. These tests can help identify any underlying neurological problems and determine the best course of treatment.
Additionally, it’s essential to discuss your symptoms with all of your doctors in detail, including any potential exposure to ticks or other environmental factors.
Should you receive a diagnosis of Lyme disease, early treatment with antibiotics shows a high rate of success in curing the disease and preventing long-term health problems.
However, a study by Johns Hopkins found that as many as 14% of Lyme disease patients can develop late-stage and chronic Lyme symptoms, even with antibiotic treatment.
Once you know you have Lyme disease, you will also be able to explore other options specifically for your condition, including finding the right diet, doing the right physical exercises, and trying out alternative modalities such as the WAVE 1 bioenergetic wearable.
Making sure you haven’t been misdiagnosed is no laughing matter. You should see an expert in neurology or infectious diseases if you suspect that you have either Lyme disease or Parkinson’s. Getting the right diagnosis means getting the right treatment, as well as the proper support and guidance.
Remember that if you believe you may have already been misdiagnosed, you need to get a second opinion from qualified specialists and discuss your symptoms thoroughly.
Ultimately, by advocating for yourself and staying well-informed about the symptoms and potential causes of neurological disorders, you can ensure you receive proper and effective medical care.