How Popstar Avril Lavigne Battled Lyme Disease

by Dr. Jonathan D'Souza

When singer Avril Lavigne went to Las Vegas with a couple of friends last October to celebrate her 30th birthday, she was sure she would do nothing but party. Little did she know that a bug bite would give her a rare disease that would keep her bedridden for months.

In an exclusive interview with People magazine, Avril speaks about the devastating Lyme disease that hit her five months ago and how she’s been fighting for her recovery. Avril attributes her severe case to a tick bite from last spring. “I had no idea a bug bite could do this,” she said. “I was bedridden for five months.” She even thought that she was dying.

We brief you about the disease, tell you how it affects the human body, as well as both conventional and alternative treatments for it.

What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infectious disease in most parts of Asia, Europe and North America. It is a bacterial illness caused by a bacterium Borrelia burdorferi and is transferred to humans by a bug bite.

Symptoms
If you have been bitten by a tick or live in an area that’s had a recent Lyme disease outbreak, look out for the following symptoms. Seek medical advice if you spot these signs.

Three to 30 Days After Being Bitten
1)  A red, expanding rash (erythema migrans)
2) Headache, fever, fatigue, chills, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes

Seventy to 80 percent of people infected with Lyme disease experience a rash that begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of three to 30 days and can appear anywhere on the body.[1] The rash slowly spreads over a span of a few days, reaching up to 12 inches (30cm) across. The appearance of the rash looks like a ‘bull’s eye.’ It feels warm to touch and may sometimes be itchy and even painful.

30 Days To 22 Weeks After The Bite
If left untreated, the infection may spread from the bite to other parts of the body, producing the following symptoms.

  • Bell’s palsy (loss of muscle tone on one or both the sides of the face)
  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness due to inflammation of the spinal cord (meningitis)
  • Changes in heartbeat, causing heart palpitations and dizziness
  • Swelling and pain in the joints (such as knees)
  • More Erythema migrans rashes on other parts of the body
  • Disturbed sleep caused by shooting pains

Most of these symptoms may resolve over a period of weeks to months without treatment.[2] However, lack of treatment can lead to additional complications. Approximately 60 percent of patients with untreated infection begin to experience intermittent bouts of arthritis with severe swelling and joint pain (especially in the knees).[3] Five percent may develop chronic neurological complaints from about six months to two years after the infection, which include problems with short-term memory, shooting pains, tingling in the hands or feet, or numbness. [4]

Treatment For Lyme Disease
Initial stages of Lyme disease can be easily treated with antibiotics like amoxicillin or doxycycline over a period of two to four weeks. They speed up the healing of the rash and prevent subsequent symptoms of neurological problems or arthritis. In more severe infections, antibiotics may be given intravenously (IV).

Pregnant or lactating women and patients below nine years of age with the disease are treated with penicillin, erythromycin and amoxicillin. Treatment with doxycycline should be avoided as it may stain the teeth.

Patients experiencing heart symptoms are given intravenous antibiotics such as ceftriaxone, penicillin and cefotaxime for about two weeks. If the symptoms persist, corticosteroids may be administered or a temporary internal cardiac pacemaker may be given.

Alternative Treatments For Lyme Disease

  • Acupuncture
    While more research is needed, acupuncture can be a promising treatment to reduce or eliminate pain due to Lyme disease.
  • Bee Venom Therapy
    The venom of the bee contains the peptide melittin, which has an inhibitory effect on Lyme disease.
  • Herbs
    Japanese knotweed, samento, banderol, andrographis, smilax and cat’s claw could help in treating Lyme disease and related tick-borne infections.
  • Supplements
    Deficiency of vitamins B and D, as well as zinc could slow recovery. Consult your doctor before taking any supplement.
  • Change In Diet
    Ditch processed foods, avoid sugar and opt for a low glycemic index diet.

Note: It is important to seek professional medical care for Lyme disease. Do not self-medicate.

The content made available at Z Living has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or by any other governmental agency. It is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

References:
1. Correspondence. The Presenting Manifestations of Lyme Disease and the Outcomes of Treatment. N Engl J Med 2003; 348:2472-2474, June 12, 2003.

2. Allen C. Steere, Jenifer Coburn, Lisa Glickstein. The emergence of Lyme disease. J. Clin. Invest. 2004; 113(8):1093.

3. Steere, AC, Schoen, RT, Taylor, E. The clinical evolution of Lyme arthritis. Ann. Intern. Med. 1987. 107:725-731.

4. Auwaerter PG, Aucott J, Dumler JS. Lyme borreliosis (Lyme disease): molecular and cellular pathobiology and prospects for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Expert Rev Mol Med. 2004 Jan 19;6(2):1-22.

5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

6) American College of Rheumatology

7) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Related Articles

Join The Conversation

Comments