Saturday, 19 May 2012

Lyme and Thyroid

I, Dana, became interested in the link between Lyme Disease (LD) and Hypothyroidism after my own young son contracted Lyme Disease in the late summer of 2005. Below is my son’s story—a child who was healthy and did not exhibit any signs of Hypothyroidism until AFTER he contracted Lyme Disease.

A few weeks before school began in 2005, my youngest son became ill with what I thought was a virus. He had a fever, sore throat, headache, and a stiff neck. I checked the lymph nodes behind his neck and ears and found them enlarged. I basically treated his symptoms the rest of the weekend with Motrin, and kept a watchful eye on him.

The following Monday, I had him see our family practitioner, who ran tests for Strep and Mononucleosis. Because the tests were negative, a viral illness was diagnosed. She stated it would need to run it’s course, and if he wasn’t better in a week, bring him back in.

Trusting the doctor, I took him home and continued to treat his symptoms. My son’s sore neck and throat got better, but other symptoms persisted–his fever continued and his lymph nodes were still swollen. Additionally, his eyes were bloodshot and he had no appetite. A second trip to the Doctor found a low White Cell Count, and we were instructed to come back in a month to recheck it. She also reiterated that he is probably just fighting a virus.

That weekend my older son noticed his brother had a weird red rash on his back, 2 weeks after his flu-like symptoms began. The numerous areas of rash were very faint, round and very large. There was some central clearing in each one. A third visit to the doctor concluded with a diagnosis of Lyme Disease. I was actually thankful to finally have a diagnosis. She stated a Lyme test would be run, but because the rash is so distinctive, she was going to treat him for Lyme Disease right away with Amoxicillin for 2 weeks.
Because I research anything that interests me, I got on my computer and started my investigation on “Lyme Disease”. Almost immediately I found out that the typical Lyme Rash, called “Erythema Migrans”, is conclusive for Lyme Disease. Even if the Lyme test comes back negative, treatment is necessary. However, by the time my son was treated, the “Borrelia Burgdorferi” (LD) infection had already disseminated or spread throughout his body and brain. That was why he had multiple bullseye rashes on his body.

Because the doctor did not suspect LD early on, I learned that my son already had progressed to Stage 2 or Early Disseminated Lyme Disease. The treatment for disseminated LD needed to be longer than 3 weeks on Amoxicillin! I called my Doctor and asked if she would please prescribe a longer course of antibiotics. She said that she would prescribe one more week and that would be enough to take care of the infection. So, my son was “allowed” to be on Amoxicillin for 4 weeks.

I also asked the Doctor if she thought that he might be better off on Doxycycline, instead of Amoxicillin, since literature states that Doxycycline is a better choice, especially if there is a chance of co-infections. She explained that because my son was only 10 years old, Doxycycline can discolor any permanent teeth that have not yet erupted. It was suggested that I call my dentist and ask his opinion. I did call my son’s dentist and he concurred with the Doctor about teeth discoloration. So, I reluctantly, decided to stick with the Amoxicillin.

However, because my son was showing signs of cognitive dysfunction, including short term memory loss and word recall problems (he is an A student), I was concerned that 4 weeks of antibiotics would not get rid of the LD infection. Luckily, through further research online, I found there was a “Pediatric Lyme Specialist” on the East Coast who might be able to help my son. After calling his office, his nurse explained that he really should be on antibiotics longer than a month, because my son was showing brain involvement. She asked me to send her all of my son’s records and recent blood work. By the way, my son’s Lyme test did come back positive for Lyme Disease.

My son was now in good hands. This wonderful, compassionate Doctor prescribed an additional 3 month course of Amoxicillin, which meant he was treated a total of 4 months on Antibiotics. He also suggested I buy a good Probiotic for the Yeast overgrowth that occurs during antibiotic treatment. Gradually, my son recovered his normal mental function and his other symptoms resolved during the antibiotic treatment. However, I was watchful for any return of symptoms, since my research show that these nasty bacterial “Borrelia Burgdorferi” Spirochetes are resistant to antibiotics because they do not have a cell wall. They are able to invade any and all organs or tissue in the body and cause destruction, slowly.

My son did recover, to a certain extent. However, to this day I do not know if the Amoxicillin was completely successful. What I do know is that because my son was not treated the first few weeks he was sick with LD, it was enough time for the “b. Burgdorferi” Spirochetes to invade his organs and brain.


About a year later, I noticed my son was more fatigued and getting headaches again, daily, as well as being moody and an easily aroused temper. He was also hungry all the time and gaining weight. Because I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in 2004, I was aware of Low Thyroid symptoms. Also, we have a family history of Thyroid problems. My Grandmother, my now deceased Father, my younger sister, and my Maternal Aunt have all have been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. So, when I started to see symptoms of this in my son, I decided to monitor his temperature. Sure enough, his temperature was low throughout the day, never getting above 97.9. I set up an appointment with our local family practitioner, and when the results came back, he dismissed had Low Thyroid. My son’s TSH was 1.78 and his FT3 was almost mid-range. But, his FT4 was very, very low.

I knew, though, from my own experience and research that he was in fact Low Thyroid. But, I decided to wait it out a little longer to see if this might be temporary. It wasn’t. Unfortunately, I personally did not have a good Thyroid Doctor, and after much soul searching, I decided the best thing for my son would be to start him on a “trial” of Armour. By this time I had already been “self” treating myself with Armour, because I did not have the support from my own Endochronologist. I discussed with my son what all this entailed and he was willing to try it.

I started him on 1/4 grain of Armour and he did well. I waited out each increase for at least a few weeks and slowly he started to feel better. He started to lose the excess weight and his headaches lessoned. During this time, I continued to search for a better Thyroid Doctor. I slowly increased his Armour until we got to 3/4 grains. I did not want to increase any further until I had his Thyroid labs done, so I kept him on 3/4 grains for over a month. I luckily found a good Doctor an hour away from us and set up an appointment. Even though I knew in my heart that I was doing the “right” thing in self-treating my son, I was a little nervous on that first appointment.

However, after discussing my son’s symptoms and explaining his improvement, our new Doctor concurred that he probably did have a Thyroid problem. He agreed to run thyroid tests to see how his numbers were compared to the last Thyroid panel. He also greed to start prescribing Armour for my son. I asked the new Doctor to check his FT3 and FT4 along with TSH. He was fine with that. Well, my son’s lab results indicated an improvement in his FT3, but his FT4 was still too low. So, the Doctor agreed that I could raise my son to 1 grain Armour. My son is continuing to improve on 1 grain Armour and I will hold this dose for 6 weeks. I suspect we are almost there in his treatment with Armour and I am reassured that my son will continue to improve.

Now you have read my own son’s story of his Lyme Disease and his subsequent Hypothyroid diagnosis. And my goal here is not only for you to be aware of Lyme Disease, but to highlight that there is a strong link between LD infection and later developing Thyroid Disease, Auto-immune Dysfunction and/or Adrenal Dysfunction.

John D. Bleiweiss, M.D., a Lyme Disease specialist, states, “Increasingly, I am encountering thyroid disease in LD. A local endocrinologist has remarked to me privately that the incidence of thyroid involvement in LD may be greater than expected from the normal population.” He goes on to say, “In many of these patients, the thyroid dysfunction was seen to originate in the pituitary or hypothalmus. Remaining alert to the possibility of thyroid disease is essential because there can be considerable clinical overlap with LD. Subacute thyroiditis is the most prevalent thyroid phenomenon I see in LD. Hypoadrenalism can uncommonly develop:

Dr. James Howenstine, a Lyme Disease expert, states, “Profound dysfunction of the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal, thyroid glands and gonads is very common in mycoplasmal, fungal, and anerobic bacterial infections. He goes on to say, “There is considerable evidence that many patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease have an infectious disease. Lyme disease needs to be considered in every patient with a chronic illness.”

Many of those who have Low Thyroid or Low Adrenal function have also been diagnosed with either Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which to me are “catch all” diagnoses that Doctors have used in order to “label” us with a disease they don’t understand.

There is considerable evidence that these diseases are actually caused by either a bacteria or virus. And, because of these infections, our bodies’ immune systems’ are weakened. That theory, in turn, pre-disposes us to developing various autoimmune disease as well as Thyroid and Adrenal disorders. My own son was perfectly healthy until he was bitten by a Lyme infected tick. This, I truly believe, set the stage for his own Thyroid to fail.

It is true that Thryoid disease in my own family is rampant. Many of us have developed Low Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders. I, personally, was diagnosed with Low Thyroid in 2004. I suspect that I have suffered from Low Thyroid most of my adult life. I too have some suspicion that I could have been infected with LD during my early years and will soon be testing for it. It could very well be that I was bitten by a tick during one of those summers I spent in Northern Wisconsin. Certainly Wisconsin is an epidemic state according to the CDC. The Lyme Bacteria, “”Borrelia Burgdorferi”, has now been found in mosquitos, biting flies, fleas, and various other vectors It can be transmitted in utero and by breast milk. So it can be impossible to know for sure who is really “safe” from this insidious and very destructive infection. There is evidence that “b. Burgdorferi” bacteria could even be transmitted, sexually. We all know that the “b. Burgdorferi” cousin, Syphilis, can be spread through sexual contact.

“Transmission of the disease has been clearly documented after bites by fleas, mites, mosquitos and ticks. There is compelling evidence that Lyme disease (LD) can be spread by sexual and congenital transfer.”

“The Sacramento, California blood bank thinks that LD can be spread by blood transfusions. The CDC (Center of Disease Control) in Atlanta, Georgia states that their data indicates that Bb can survive the blood processing techniques used for transfusions in the US.”

“Biology professor, Lida Mattman, author of Cell Wall Deficient Forms: Stealth Pathogens, has been able to recover live spirochetes of Bb from mosquitos, fleas, mites, semen, urine, blood, and spinal fluid.”


LD is most often transmitted by a tick bite. Only 20-30% of those infected ever recall a tick bite. The more common tick vectors are the Deer Tick and the Lone Star Tick. However, other ticks can also transmit the LD bacteria. Ticks prefer to live wooded areas, fields, yards and even near the ocean. Even if you are not a nature lover and prefer to stay in your house, you are not safe from LD tick bites. Your own pets, cats or dogs, can bring these ticks into your household. Because some of these ticks are as small as a pin-head when in there nymphal stage, it can be virtually impossible to know if you were bitten. They have a two year life cycle and are most active April through October. However, depending on where you live, you are not even safe in the winter months. Every state in the US has cases of Lyme Disease. But, the most endemic areas include Northeastern states, Pacific Northwestern states and the Great Lake states. LD is found in many other countries as well and include many different “strains” of the LD bacteria. The following countries have reported cases of LD: Scandinavia, Central Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe, Russia, Japan, China and Australia.

And, many, many cases of LD go unreported or misdiagnosed. According to the following website: , “Epidemiologic data suggest that the actual incidence of Lyme disease could be as much as 10 times higher than the CDC data indicate. This probably is a result of a restrictive case definition from the CDC, inevitable misdiagnosis, and the fact that physicians tend to underreport reportable diseases of all kinds.”
The President of a Lyme Testing Facility, Dr. Nick Harris, goes on to say, “Lyme disease, in fact, might be the most insidious — and least understood — infectious disease of our day. “If it weren’t for AIDS,” says Nick Harris, Ph.D., President of IgeneX, Inc., a research and testing laboratory in Palo Alto, California, “Lyme would be the number one infectious disease in the United States and Western Europe.”

Lyme Disease is now thought to be the fastest growing infectious disease in the world. There are believed to be at least 200,000 new cases each year in the US and some experts think that as many as one in every 15 Americans is currently infected (20 million persons).
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