Is Lyme Disease Curable? Lyme Disease Cure vs. Remission | Lyme Disease FAQ
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
Upon living with an undiagnosed illness for ten months, and then finally getting a diagnosis of Lyme disease and two co-infections, my first thought was: will I be able to get rid of this? Is Lyme disease curable? Anyone living with such a serious and life-impacting illness as Lyme disease would have the same question. The short answer: yes…and no.
Not the straightforward answer you were looking for, right? Bear with me.
Unfortunately—like many other aspects of Lyme disease—this is a complicated question. By definition, to “cure” someone is to “to restore to health, soundness, or normality”. A cure is “recovery or relief from a disease” (1). By those definitions, yes, it is possible to cure Lyme disease. It is possible to recover and gain relief from Lyme disease symptoms. Many people are able to treat and overcome their symptoms to reach what is equivalent to a restored and “normal” state of health. So go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief—there is much hope for recovering from Lyme disease!
However, there is a catch. There is currently no test or procedure to tell if your body is fully rid of the Lyme disease infection. Tick-borne bacteria have a way of hiding deep into the crevasses of the body. Given how sneaky those Lyme bacteria are, there is no telling if there are still some latent Lyme bacteria stuck in your body somewhere just waiting for their call back to action. I say this not to scare you, but rather, I say this with (attempted) humor in hopes to ease the panic you may be feeling. I may never be fully free of Lyme? Maybe. There is a chance that—even after years of successful treatment and a reduction of symptoms—you still have Lyme bacteria in your body.
The lack of certainty around confirming eradication of a Lyme disease infection makes this a highly debated topic. There are a lot of differing opinions and thoughts about the idea of a Lyme disease cure. Ask any Lyme professional or patient “is Lyme disease curable” and you are likely to get a different answer. This question really falls in a gray area, like so many Lyme-related questions.
So with understanding the subjectivity and uncertainty behind this question, let me provide you with a more in-depth answer. Or rather—as a chronic Lyme patient—what my subjective outlook is towards recovering from chronic Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Cure vs. Lyme Disease Remission
From my perspective, whether or not there is a “Lyme disease cure” is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, I will never be able to be certain if the infection is completely removed from my body. There is a chance that I may never get back to the state of 100% health I had before falling ill almost four years ago. I may never be cured. This is something I’ve had to come to terms with. Accepting this does not make it any less scary, however.
Rather than fighting to reach a state of finite full health—which is a lot of pressure to put on a circumstance that is so far out of my control—I am fighting to achieve what I like to call a state of “remission”. The goal is to reach a point in my treatment where I get the Lyme infection under control enough for my immune system to be able to handle it on its own. It is at this point where any remaining infection is inactive, symptoms are fully relieved, and I enter a state of remission from Lyme disease.
From there I would continue to treat any continued issues that are ‘byproducts’ of the infection, such as a weakened immune system or hormone imbalances. Then focus would be placed on supporting my body and immune system to maintain a state of remission. This could involve using occasional doses of herbal antibiotics or medicine, continuing to follow a clean diet, and practicing other forms of preventive health care.
Accepting the Possibility of Relapse
This mentality of course comes along with the possibility of relapse. Eventually, I hope to live a life where my symptoms are no longer noticeable, or better yet feel “back to good”. Yet I understand that there is always a chance any leftover infection can reemerge if the perfect storm were to occur.
If by chance, there were still bacteria in my body—even after I reached a state of remission —I would be susceptible to experience a relapse. Years down the line I could experience a flare-up that requires me to start from square one all over again.
The prospect of potentially regaining full health and then losing it…again.. is a hard pill to swallow. Yet, like many threats in life, that was entirely out of my control. I have decided to focus on my goal of improving my health. Whatever life throws at me years down the road is, like I said, out of my control.
Merriam Webster - Cure - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cure