Canadian singer and songwriter Justin Bieber has recently took to Instagram to tell his fans that he has recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease. “It’s been a rough couple of years”, the 25-year-old star said on Instagram mentioning that he was also battling a chronic viral infection known as infectious mononucleosis. Reports have stated that the Lyme’s disease is also responsible for the depression that Bieber had been suffering from since last year. So what exactly is Lyme disease and why is it so difficult to diagnose?

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a disease that occurs when you are infected by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria is a spiral–shaped and is transmitted through tick bites.

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Lyme disease initially begins with the integumentary system(skin) and can eventually become disseminated throughout different organ systems such as the cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system and nervous system.

Ticks are responsible for spreading Lyme disease. (source: healthline.com)

What are the clinical features of Lyme disease?

The clinical features of Lyme disease can be classified into 3 stages:

  1. Stage 1: Localized infection– Since the tick is very small, people often do not remember being bitten by a tick. After about 3-32 days, a reddish rash begins at the site of the bite and it can be seen spreading throughout the skin. The lesion then begins to increase in size, and eventually turns into an annular lesion with red outlines and sometimes a red center.

    Erythema marginatum (source: en.wikipedia.org)

 

  1. Stage 2: Disseminated infection – This stage is characterized by gradual spread of the lesions to other sites of the body. This is often accompanied by other symptoms such as:

 

  1. Headaches
  2. Fever
  3. Chills
  4. Shifting muscle pain
  5. Neck stiffness
  6. Tiredness

Other less common symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat, redness of eyes, swelling of testicles or redness of eyes. The disease then spreads to other organ systems such as the central nervous system (where it can cause meningitis, neuritis, encephalitis), cardiovascular system (such as heart block and myopericarditis), musculoskeletal system( such as shifting pain in the bones, joints, tendons or muscles.

 

  1.  Stage 3: Persistent Infection– If the Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated; it can progress to chronic forms within a few months of its onset.  It may take the form of a chronic inflammation of joints(arthritis) or chronic neurological involvement. In Justin Bieber’s case, it was the latter form. This neurological involvement tends to cause symptoms similar to Bieber’s since it can affect a person’s sleep, memory or mood. Because of this, it is often mistaken for depression and other psychiatric disorders.

 

  1. Lyme disease also has a skin manifestation called as acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans which mostly occurs in elderly woman. In this condition reddish skin lesions are seen on the arms and the leg.

How can Lyme disease be treated?

If you suspect you have Lyme disease, please consult your doctor. He/she will probably advice you to take antibiotics such as doxycycline, amoxicillin, cefuroxime axetil or erythromycin depending on your condition. Antibiotics are mainly given in oral form, but may be given in intravenous form in cases of neurological abnormalities or heart block. Don’t worry through; if measures are taken on time, Lyme disease is completely curable.

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Facts of Justin Bieber suffering from Lyme disease? It’s cause, symptoms and treatment

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