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Lyme Disease

What Is The Treatment For Lyme Disease?

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 11:08

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics taken by mouth, such as:

  • Cefuroxime axetil (Ceftin), which was approved by the FDA in 1996 for the treatment of early Lyme disease.
  • Amoxicillin
  • Doxycycline (also effectively treats most other tick-borne diseases; not given to children under age 9, pregnant women, or women who are breastfeeding because it can stain the permanent teeth developing in young children or unborn babies)
  • Penicillin
  • Erythromycin (for people allergic to penicillin)

Early treatment with antibiotics is important to avoid long-term problems. People treated in the early stages usually recover quickly and completely.

  • Antibiotics can speed the healing of the rash.
  • Arthritis symptoms usually go away within a few weeks or months following antibiotic therapy.
  • After antibiotic therapy, some people still experience muscle aches, persistent fatigue, and trouble with memory and concentration. Research is continuing on how best to treat these persistent symptoms.

Do Pain Relievers Help?

Symptoms such as mild joint pain and headache may continue even in people who are taking antibiotics. Pain relievers do not help to combat Lyme disease but may relieve some of the symptoms. They include:

  • Acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol)
  • Nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen

Nice To Know:

In rare cases, treatment for Lyme disease may involve more than medication:

  • If a person's arthritis symptoms are severe and persistent, joint surgery may be necessary.
  • Heart problems may require a temporary pacemaker.

Lyme Disease