Treatment options are many for Lyme disease.
For New cases of Lyme disease: Individuals not yet treated with antibiotics for a new case of Lyme Disease should immediately consult with his/her primary care physician to discuss treatment. In the context of a new Lyme rash, treatment should be started immediately even if the blood tests are negative as it can take 2-4 weeks before a blood test might turn positive. The sooner one treats Lyme disease, the better the long-term outcome. Please see our section on "Treatment Options" that discusses important things to know about some of the first-line antibiotic treatments for Lyme disease, such as doxycycline, amoxicillin, cefuroxime, or ceftriaxone. In this section, we also discuss other non-antibiotic treatment approaches that may be especially helpful for fatigue, pain, mood issues, and/or cognitive problems that persist despite antibiotic treatment.
For Persistent Symptoms after initial Lyme Disease treatment: When symptoms persist or return, treatment decisions are more challenging. Is this persistent infection? Is this a new reinfection? Is this a post-infectious problem that needs other treatment approaches? Is this another problem and not Lyme Disease? We explore these issues with each patient. Patients can come to see us through our second opinion service or through our research clinic.
Our research clinic currently has two ongoing treatment studies. One uses the medication Disulfiram to see if that will help to reduce persistent Lyme disease symptoms. Disulfiram, a medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of alcohol abuse, has been shown in the laboratory setting to be effective in the killing of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The second study investigates the extent to which chronic pain and/or fatigue can be reduced by the daily practice of meditation and Kundalini yoga. We also have a functional brain imaging study to see if patients with Lyme disease have hyper-active pain brain circuits. All of these studies are conducted at no financial cost to the patient. You can learn more about the disulfiram and the meditation/yoga study and other studies by checking our current research page.
Our Mission and Why Your Participation in Research is so valuable.
Part of our mission at Columbia is to find out which treatments are most effective for patients with chronic persistent symptoms. We can only do this when patients participate in our clinical research. Careful clinical research is what convinces doctors that a treatment is effective. If you are a patient looking to help the scientific battle against Lyme disease, research may well be for you. Please check our "current research" page to see whether there is a study that interests you. We create new studies every few months, so please check again throughout the year.
Some patients are turned off by the word "research" as it might sound cold and indifferent; this in fact is not the case. When patients come into our studies, they are carefully evaluated by members of our Lyme team (for example, Dr. Fallon and/or Dr. Delaney) and treated as partners in the clinical scientific endeavor. There is no financial cost for participation, but it does take time, as in most studies that involve treatment we ask patients to participate in a comprehensive evaluation assessing neurologic, cognitive, neuro- psychiatric, and rheumatologic systems, often before as well as at different intervals during treatment. Many thanks to the patients who have joined our research studies! They are making a big difference.