Even in its acute stages, Lyme Disease is a tough disorder to pin down – yet it affects millions of people all over the world every year. Upon casually hearing the name ‘Lyme Disease’, many associate it with America; and while there are significant numbers of Lyme cases in the U.S., Europe is almost equally besieged by the disease, albeit a slightly different variant. Lyme is transferred to humans by ticks; in the U.S. the carrier is the black-legged tick, otherwise known as the deer tick. In Europe, the sheep tick, or castor bean tick, is the responsible insect. In China, it’s the taiga tick. These ticks all carry spirochetes bacteria from the genus Borrelia, which is the instigator of Lyme Disease; they acquire them from an assortment of small mammals and birds.
Ticks are adept at hiding themselves once they latch on to a host; they won’t immediately start feeding the moment they make contact, choosing instead to migrate to darker, more secluded areas of the body. They also secrete a mild anaesthetic, which means the host won’t feel the bite and subsequent feeding. Once they had enough of their blood meal, they’ll drop off the body naturally; some people never even know they were there.
Unfortunately, others do, as symptoms of Lyme will start presenting themselves shortly after the tick departs. Though only a fraction of people bitten by a tick will contract Lyme (roughly 1.2 – 2.8 percent, even in Lyme-prevalent areas), the disease can be tough to spot as initially, as it mimics the symptoms of a flu or common cold. The best indicator of Lyme is undoubtedly the distinctive bullseye rash, unique to a Borrelia infection alone; it presents as a red rash encircled by a red ring (hence the ‘bullseye’ effect). This is the single most obvious symptom of Lyme, and spotting it early can lead to a full and rapid recovery. However, if you miss the tick bite and the rash, symptoms can become a little general, which is why it’s best to know exactly what to look out for.
Many of the following symptoms are flu-like; but if they’re paired with a rash, or if you’ve recently been outdoors in wooded or grassy areas, it’s best to get checked out and tested for Lyme. As with most diseases, the earlier you catch it, the better.
Generalised Aches and Pains
This is a classic indicator of an oncoming flu-like infection, and can seem to affect everything from muscles to bones. When it comes to Lyme, these aches can flare up anywhere in the body, but be particularly mindful about pains in-and-around joints.
Fever and Chills
One of the traditional symptoms of a flu infection is a rapid transition between sweaty fevers and deep chills. One moment it feels like you’ll never be warm again, the next thing you’re waking up in saturated sheets, struggling to fling the duvet off. Though fever and chills induced by Lyme might not be that extreme, they will still nonetheless be present as the virus makes its initial attack on your immune system.
There are many different forms of headaches, but flu-related ones are usually dull and achy, without being severely debilitating like a migraine or cluster headache. The same is true for a Lyme-induced headache; it will make your head feel heavy and unfocused with a dull throb, and won’t be explained away by tension or stress.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
The lymph system covers our entire bodies, weaving a complex network of glands across organs, tissue and bone. You can’t physically feel most of your lymph nodes; the ones in your neck are perhaps the most prominent, and are located right next to where you’d find your pulse. When your body is fighting any kind of infection, nodes up and down the lymphatic system will swell up in an effort to fight back against the intruder.
One of the best indicators of whether your symptoms are Lyme or flu comes down to the season; although summer colds are certainly legitimate, flu viruses are much less common during the sunny months than they are during the winter. Quite the opposite is true for Lyme, which is at its height in the summertime. If you suffer from an onset of symptoms while the sun is out, then make sure you speak to your doctor about a potential case of Lyme. If caught early, almost all patients make a full and rapid recovery. Natural supplements from an outlet like Make Well, who have a deep understanding of Lyme Disease in both its acute and chronic stages, can be a valuable tool to getting you healthy again.
The main weapon we have against Lyme is vigilance; be aware of the hazards of a tick bite, and if you suffer an onset of symptoms, especially with a rash, then get checked out as soon as you can. Lyme Disease isn’t fatal, but it can become severely debilitating the longer it’s left in the body, so rapid action to combat the illness is essential.
One of the most enigmatic disease to have emerged in recent times is a little-known and little-understood condition named Morgellons disease. While humans have been battling strange ailments of all kinds for centuries, Morgellons is a relatively new addition to the pantheon of human afflictions, arriving fully-formed in the 21st century. It was discovered in 2001 by a concerned mother and biologist called Mary Leitao, whose young son developed sores under his lip and started complaining of ‘bugs’. When numerous doctors declared that there was nothing wrong with the child, despite his condition worsening, and instead started questioning Leitao’s mental stability, she took matters into her own hands by christening the disease Morgellons and setting up a Morgellons Research Foundation to aid other sufferers.
Right from the beginning, the disease and its diagnosis were clouded by scepticism, disbelief and accusations of mental imbalance. Unfortunately for Morgellons sufferers all over the world, nothing much has changed in the intervening 17 years. One of the reasons for this is that the symptoms of Morgellons are so bizarre that they seem to defy medical diagnosis. The disease is characterised by ulcerative skin lesions that can form anywhere on the body, and are exceptionally slow to heal. These lesions can cause extreme itching and pain for the patient, often described as bug-like sensations just below the skin, leading them to scratch the open sores and further prevent the healing cycle. The other definitive diagnostic test for Morgellons is the presence of fibers or filaments within the lesions, which are sometimes visible to the naked eye but usually require a dermascope with magnification. The fibers are predominantly coloured white, blue and red.
While this might seem like a pretty definitive and unmistakable symptom, Morgellons has consistently been written off as delusional parasitosis and a prime example of mass hysteria by medical professionals. The former disorder is a mental condition where the patient believes they’ve been infected by bugs, leading to crawling and itching sensations which cause the patient to scratch obsessively, opening up sores on their skin. The strange fibers were explained away as stray strands of clothing which has become stuck in the open sores. Despite this shutout by the medical community at large, Leitao’s efforts surrounding the disease spread far and wide thanks to the internet, leading to many patients coming forward from all over the world. The diagnosis of delusional parasitosis simply didn’t satisfy these sufferers, who knew their symptoms inside out and were convinced they suffered from a genuine condition.
This momentum culminated in 2006 when the Centers for Disease Control (or CDC for short) decided to commission an in-depth study into the condition, which took three years and over half a million dollars. Unfortunately for Morgellons advocates, when the results were published in 2012, the opinion of the CDC was that there was no ‘common underlying condition’, effectively certifying the fact that Morgellons was a myth. This was a major blow to Morgellons sufferers around the world and caused Leitao to disappear from the public eye, adding further fuel to the delusional fire. Upon closer inspection however, the CDC’s study is revealed to be flawed, largely thanks to a misunderstanding of the nature of the disease in the first place. There was also a significant amount of selection bias when it came to the participants in the study, dissuaded participation of some patients, ignored clinical and laboratory evidence of Morgellons, and most importantly, the selection and testing of the wrong specimens.
The key to Morgellons is the strange fibers which form inside the patient’s sores. No other known disease produces symptoms like this; therefore they should be the primary focus of testing. It’s obvious that pieces of clothing fiber would become attached to patient’s sores as they go about their lives, but these are entirely different in nature to the inherent fibers formed by progressive Morgellons. The CDC survey did not take this into account, and instead focused only on superficial fibers located loosely around the patients’ sores.
In-depth research has in fact deduced that these bizarre fibers are chemically and physically consistent with naturally forming keratin and collagen, and stem from epithelial cells in the skin and hair follicles. The different colours of the fibers are formed by various compounds of proteins, keratin and collagen, and their structure is hair-like. When studying Morgellons patients, it’s imperative that these samples are taken from fibers embedded in the skin, as opposed to environmental fibers which may appear naturally around the lesions and sores. This is the key criteria that the CDC study failed to take into account when they embarked on their ultimately flawed study. Though their study was built on unsound foundations, it still managed to strike a huge blow to Morgellons sufferers everywhere, setting the legitimisation of the condition back many years.
Despite this setback, many are still convinced that Morgellons is all too real; patients and doctors alike continue to work tirelessly to prove it. One example is The Charles E. Holman Foundation, a grassroots activist organisation that aims to educate people about Morgellons Disease via research, education, diagnosis and treatment. Recent research has suggested that Morgellons disease is a dermatological condition rather than an infection in and of itself, and the underlying infection needs to be determined before treatment can begin. Lyme Disease is a similar, little-understood condition, which has been linked to Morgellons symptoms, and many specialists now consider Morgellons to be a chronic, cutaneous form of Borrelia infection (Lyme Disease). Make Well have been helping patients fight back against Lyme with the help of their natural, herbal supplements, and have now expanded their range to include Morgellons, with their new product MRG Derm. This is a valuable option for patients who’ve been much-maligned by the medical community at large, and represents a leap forward in the legitimisation of the little-understood, but hopefully increasingly recognised condition called Morgellons.
There are many strange and bizarre afflictions out there; the human body is an extremely complicated piece of machinery and unfortunately there’s a lot that can go wrong with it. Usually these ailments are definitive and a clear-cut path exists for their treatment; sometimes, however, a condition exists that defies doctors’ expectations and confounds the medical community at large. Morgellons disease is one such condition. A relative newcomer in the pantheon of human afflictions, Morgellons was discovered in 2001, not by a doctor but by a concerned mother. It has gone on to baffle medical professionals ever since. You might have never heard of Morgellons disease – but fortunately, that’s why we’ve compiled a handy introduction to this strange, unexplained disorder.
The disease was discovered and named in 2001 by an American woman named Mary Leitao, after her two-year-old son developed sores under his lip and started complaining of ‘bugs’. After taking a closer look under a microscope, Leitao discovered a number of black, blue, red and white fibres in and around his sores. This strange symptom would go on to be one of the most controversial angles of Morgellons, and also one of the most consistent. Obviously concerned, she brought her son to a number of doctors, all of whom could find nothing wrong. After a renowned pediatrician found nothing abnormal on the boy’s skin, the focus turned to Leitao; it was suggested she was suffering from Munchausen’s by Proxy and should be referred for psychiatric care.
However, Leitao continued to monitor her son, and discovered that more fibers and more sores continued to appear on his body. She and her husband, an internist with Pennsylvania’s South Allegheny Internal Medicine, were convinced that their son suffered from a previously unknown disease, and that disease needed a name. Leitao chose Morgellons (pronounced with a hard ‘g’), after discovering the word in an old medical essay. As distinctive as it may be, this enigmatic name has not helped with the condition’s reputation in some medical circles, and it remains an obscure condition with relatively little research conducted on its origin. Unsatisfied with the response from the medical profession at large, Leitao founded the Morgellons Research Foundation in 2002, and reported cases from all 50 states of the U.S., as well as patients from other territories, including Canada, the U.K., Australia and mainland Europe. In addition, charity-esque organisations such as The Charles E. Holman Foundation have increased in popularity, with the donation-led society focusing on education, research, diagnosis and treatment of Morgellons Disease.
For a largely unknown disease, the main symptoms of Morgellons are actually incredibly distinctive and unique. The prevalent issue is large amounts of skin rashes or sores, which cause intense itching sensations. These infuriating urges cause patients to scratch themselves emphatically, thereby irritating the sores further, and not allowing them the chance to heal. This vicious cycle is one of the key detrimental elements of Morgellons. As well as the omnipresent itching, patients will often feel like something is crawling under their skin, which harkens back to Mary Leitao’s son’s initial description of ‘bugs’. These crawling, scratching and biting sensations can often be extremely debilitating and unpleasant for patients; unfortunately, it is this exact symptom which has often led medical professionals to write off Morgellons as ‘delusional parasitosis’, a psychological condition where the patient incorrectly believes they are infested with some form of parasites.
The other main symptom of Morgellons is easily the most bizarre; it involves fibres, threads and stringy material apparently forming on the skin of the patient. They are predominantly black, though they can be blue, red or white. It is still unknown where these fibers come from, and attempts to analyse them have resulted in confusion and wildly varying results. Other lesser-pronounced symptoms involve severe fatigue, difficulty concentrating and short-term memory loss. These can often be explained as a byproduct of the mental stress of the itching symptom, which take up a lot of the patient’s preoccupation, resulting in obsessive thoughts and reduced faculties.
The research previously conducted on Morgellons has relegated it to a psychiatric disorder, and has explained away the fibres formed on the skin as strands of fabric from clothes. This occurrence happens to everyone, of course, but some doctors insist that the apparent obsessive mindset and tendencies of Morgellons patients make them hypersensitive to any microscopic changes on their body. However, for the patients that are crippled under the weight of an all-too-real disease, this is hardly a satisfactory answer. Recent research has revealed that Morgellons may in fact be a rare form of chronic Lyme disease, an affliction which affects thousands of people across the globe. Specialists estimate that around 5% of these sufferers have Morgellons; while the exact mechanisms of how the two conditions interact is unknown, a solid link between them is relieving news for Morgellons patients everywhere.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for Lyme disease or Morgellons. Treatment plans are often multi-pronged, as the length of time the patient has had the condition is usually a major factor. Make Well are experts when it comes to producing natural supportive treatments for Lyme disease, and are well-versed in its symptoms. They have recently turned their attention to Morgellons, armed with the research showing the link between the two. Their new product MRG Derm is aimed exclusively at patients and doctors dealing with Morgellons disease, and provides a natural, high-quality supplement to aid in the battle against this mysterious affliction, helping patients to come to terms with a disease that many medical professionals claim is all in their head.
While Morgellons is coming to the fore in some medical circles (the 11th Annual Medical – Scientific Morgellons Conference has just taken place in Austin, Texas), there is still a lot to be learned about this strange and rare disorder. The first stage in the fight is getting the medical community at large to accept Morgellons as a genuine condition, and not some specialised form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Only then can the true work of curing the disease begin in earnest.