Lyme Disease Misdiagnosis. How Can That Happen?

Misdiagnosis and Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a problematic illness because misdiagnosis of Lyme disease is common in both directions.
Lyme Disease Misdiagnosis can occur because a range of other common health problems, and some common health concerns are misdiagnosed as Lyme disease.

Blood Tests For Lyme Disease

Part of the problem is the blood test for Lyme.
People often test positive for Lyme disease, but have either Lyme plus a coinfection (second infection) or a have a different bacterial illness and are getting what is termed a false positive on the test.

The most likely reason for a false positive is that they were infected with Lyme bacteria at some point during their lives, but the infection either never become active, or went dormant.

In some cases, there is a false negative, with Lyme infection present but not registering on the titer test.

Mistaking Lyme Disease

Up until recently, many mainstream doctors didnít even believe that Lyme existed.
But with more than 100 years of evidence, from the first cases reported in Sweden in 1908, to the growing number in the United States since the 1970s, Lyme is now being accepted as a real condition and not “all in the patient’s head” or another disease similar to it.

Lyme usually presents as the flu several days after the person has been bitten by a tick.
If they get the bullseye rash, they will usually be given antibiotics.
If the doctor is Lyme-savvy, even if there is no rash, they might give a blood test and/or recommend one of the antibiotics most effective against Lyme.

However, not everyone gets the rash; blood tests can give false negatives, and not every doctor is Lyme-savvy.
The cases that are not treated promptly are likely to develop into Lyme disease.
In this case, the person will often be misdiagnosed because Chronic Lyme disease (CLD), has symptoms very similar to those of several other chronic illnesses, including:

  • juvenile idiopathic arthritis (idiopathic means “no known cause”)
  • fibromyalgia
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • arthritis
  • chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • other autoimmune disorders in which the body starts to attack itself
  • Heart problems
  • Neurological problems, such as:
    • Nerve pain
    • Migraine
    • Memory loss
    • Cognitive dysfunction to the point that doctors think it might be dementia

and more.

The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation has a useful list here:
https://canlyme.com/just-diagnosed/testing/common-misdiagnoses/

Lyme Disease Misdiagnosis

Diseases Mistaken For Lyme

Sometimes doctors are so focused on Lyme disease, they might offer it as a diagnosis for another condition, especially if a blood test comes back positive.

The University of Maryland has a useful list which is grouped by the typical symptoms which have what is termed diagnostic differentials, that is, a range of different causes. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition-symptom-links/conditions-with-similar-symptoms-as-lyme-disease

Lyme Disease Misdiagnosis

Arthritis/Bone And Joint Pain

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, also commonly referred to as lupus)

Breathing Difficulty

  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Asthma
  • Shock
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Tuberculosis

Faint Or Lightheaded

  • Allergies
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Anemia
  • Migraine

Fatigue/tiredness Even After Resting

  • Allergies
  • Anemia
  • Bronchitis
  • CFS
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Endocarditis
  • Migraine
  • MS
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Influenza
  • Pericarditis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Sinus Headache
  • SLE

Fever

  • Bronchitis
  • Common Cold
  • Endocarditis
  • CFS
  • Influenza
  • Pericarditis
  • RA
  • SLE
  • Sinus Headache
  • Tuberculosis

Headache

  • Allergies
  • Anemia
  • CFS
  • Endocarditis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Stroke
  • SLE
  • Common Cold
  • Influenza
  • Meningitis
  • Migraine
  • Sinus Headache
  • Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA, or mini-strokes)
  • Tuberculosis

Heartbeat Issues

  • Anemia
  • COPD
  • Angina
  • Heart Attack
  • Shock

Motor Disturbances. Neurological Issues

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • MS

Numbness Of Extremities

  • Endocarditis
  • Migraine
  • MS
  • Stroke
  • TIA

Chest Pain

  • Angina
  • Arteriolosclerosis
  • Heart attack
  • Pericarditis
  • Tuberculosis

Facial Paralysis (Bell’s Palsy)

  • Stroke
  • Viral infection

Rash

  • Allergies
  • SLE

We have edited the list to highlight, the most common diseases, those that Lyme is mistaken for and those who have more than one symptom in common with Lyme and might, therefore, convince a doctor to make a diagnosis of Lyme rather than anything else.

Work as a team with your doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment for you.

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Kate

Kate's passion is to show you how to eat delicious foods and still get super lean! She loves to write about many things, including health related stuff.
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