Anyone who has ever had a bad headache or migraine knows just how painful and debilitating they can be. Living with chronic migraines can take over your life, causing you to miss out on family events, struggle to keep up with work and other responsibilities, and limit your activities and diet as you try to eliminate anything that may be a trigger. You may get so used to dealing with headaches that you’ve resigned to simply living life as best you can while being in constant pain.
Not having a clear answer on what is causing your headaches can make relief seem elusive as you keep shuffling through different treatments. You may have been told that weather changes, an irregular sleep schedule, genetics, diet, stress, or even hormonal changes are to blame for your headaches — and all these factors can definitely contribute to your discomfort. However, chronic migraines may be a symptom of a larger health issue, such as Lyme disease.
Interested in learning more? Contact us to discover how we can help.
Headache Triggers: Your Migraines and Lyme Disease
If your headaches are accompanied by other symptoms, like fevers, dizziness, muscle pain, mood swings, and fatigue, it’s time to look under the surface and get to the root of what is making you feel unwell. Lyme disease is more common than many people realize. The most recent CDC estimates that about 476,000 people get diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year.
However, many people who get this tick-borne disease don’t receive prompt treatment or realize they ever got infected in the first place. This is because Lyme disease is a complicated condition that can be difficult to diagnose, and many doctors are untrained in how to detect and treat the disease in its later stages.
Getting a Lyme Disease Diagnosis
One of the biggest difficulties doctors run into when diagnosing Lyme disease is that there is not currently a reliable test available to confirm someone has it. Blood tests are used to detect if antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi are present, which is the bacteria carried by the ticks that cause the disease. However, most tests only check for a small number of the possible strains that can cause an infection, and it can take a couple of weeks for the antibodies to show up on the test.
People also often get receive false negative or positive results, so a negative test result does not necessarily mean you haven’t been infected. Many people get a bull’s-eye rash when bitten by a tick, but not everyone gets this mark or notices it there. For this reason, it’s essential to see a doctor who has experience treating Lyme disease and understands what symptoms to look for.
Symptoms To Look Out For
As it advances, Lyme disease affects several body systems and looks similar to other conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and adrenal fatigue. No two people’s immune systems are the exact same — the type and severity of symptoms an infected individual experiences relies on the health of their immune system and body as a whole.
Two common symptoms of Lyme disease at any stage are chronic headaches and migraines. One study found 78% of children with the condition reported headaches and, in another study about 50% of adults said they experienced headaches. One of the reasons for this is that Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease, and a common cause of migraines is inflammation.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Rashes, which can start out as one bull’s eye rash and then spread throughout the body
- Extreme fatigue or sleepiness and difficulties sleeping at night
- Muscle and joint pain and swelling, which can be localized or widespread
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever, dizziness, and muscle pain
- Brain fog, which includes difficulties concentrating, making decisions, and remembering information
- Heart problems like palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, and light-headedness
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression
- Neurological problems including loss of taste or smell, balance or coordination issues, blurry vision, or light sensitivity.
Finding Relief for Your Headaches
If your headaches are being caused by Lyme disease, most medications and traditional treatments for migraines will not provide much pain alleviation. At most, you may be able to temporarily mask your symptoms or make them less severe. However, true relief will not come until you are able to address the core of your issue.
Treatment for Lyme disease depends on how long you’ve had the infection. If caught early, a course of antibiotics can be successful in improving your symptoms and getting rid of the disease. However, antibiotics are not always effective when the infection is not detected or treated right away. Additionally, there are times when people still feel ill and experience symptoms even after antibiotic therapy.
If symptoms, like headaches, last for more than six months, this is referred to as chronic Lyme disease. Often, not only are antibiotics ineffective at treating the condition at this stage but they can also be harmful and make it even more difficult for healing to happen.
Strengthening Your Immune System
The key to fighting late-stage Lyme disease is to strengthen your immune system and enable it to properly target your infection and heal your body. This requires looking beyond medications or seemingly quick solutions at stopping your symptoms. Rather, a variety of treatments and lifestyle changes are necessary to fight inflammation, boost your immune system, and achieve overall wellness.
When you visit Premier Health and Holistic Medicine, Dr. Robin Ridinger will take time to investigate your symptoms and confirm if Lyme disease could be causing your discomfort. Headaches or migraines are common symptoms of several conditions and are sometimes easily missed, so Dr. Ridinger will look at the big picture when making a diagnosis. This can include asking questions like:
- Are headaches your only symptom, or are you exhibiting any other discomfort or pain?
- Have you recently visited any heavily wooded areas or been bit by a tick?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with another chronic condition, like chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, and treatment is not working?
- Have you noticed any strange rashes on your body?
- Have you received a positive Lyme disease test in the past?
If your symptoms point to a Lyme disease diagnosis, Dr. Ridinger will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that looks at every aspect of your health. This includes examining and optimizing your diet, exercise levels, and sleep. It can also include supplements, antioxidant therapies, hormones, and mineral therapies to aid your body in repairing itself.
It’s certainly not a quick and easy solution and not the typical response to chronic headaches, but if Lyme disease is the cause of your discomfort, you need the right holistic doctor by your side to get well.
Dr. Ridinger is deeply passionate about treating complex illnesses and specializes in treating Lyme disease. She is extremely determined in getting to the root cause and effectively treating each patient that walks through her door, and she has more than 25 years of experience as a physician under her belt. While it may feel like you’ve been trying to treat your headaches for a while now, your journey toward healing starts here.
Ready to begin? Schedule your consultation with Dr. Ridinger today.