Antibiotics are the main treatment for Lyme disease. The first course of antibiotics almost always cures the infection. But if symptoms continue, more evaluation may be needed.
Reference The type of antibiotic prescribed, the amount, and whether the medicine is taken orally, as an injection, or through a vein Reference (intravenous, or IV) Opens New Window depends on how bad your symptoms are and how long you've had Lyme disease.
- Oral antibiotics are prescribed for Reference early Lyme disease. They are also usually prescribed first for Reference chronic Lyme arthritis Opens New Window.
(IV) antibiotics are used if:
- Your Reference nervous system Opens New Window is affected by late Lyme disease and you have bad headaches, neck pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, or problems with thinking or memory.
- Lyme disease bacteria or Reference antibodies Opens New Window against the bacteria have been found in your spinal fluid.
- Either oral or intravenous antibiotics may be used to treat Reference late Lyme disease symptoms.
Should you use antibiotics?
Different antibiotics may be used to treat children and adults. The decision to take medicines for Lyme disease may be based on one or more of these factors:
- You have symptoms of Lyme disease, especially the red, Reference circular rash Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, and a history of exposure to ticks in geographic regions where Lyme disease is known to occur.
- Blood tests show that you have antibodies to the Lyme disease bacteria in your blood, spinal fluid, or joint fluid.
- You are pregnant or breast-feeding and are bitten by a tick.
In rare instances, Lyme disease symptoms may not go away even after antibiotic treatment has cured the infection. There are a number of possible reasons why symptoms may take longer to improve:
- Tissue or nerve damage caused by untreated Lyme disease may be severe or even irreversible.
- You may not actually have Lyme disease or may have another illness at the same time with symptoms that don't respond to antibiotic treatment. Lyme disease may trigger Reference fibromyalgia Opens New Window or Reference chronic fatigue syndrome Opens New Window. Or you may be Reference misdiagnosed as having Lyme disease when you really have a chronic fatigue condition.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 21, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology