Q. I was bitten by a tick in July 2007. Though that led to infection with Lyme disease, the doctor misdiagnosed me and prescribed prednisone. After three months, I was much worse.
The next doctor I saw made the correct diagnosis and treated me with 30 days of doxycycline. The Western blot test was still positive after my antibiotic course, although my doctor said I was cured because I had had the dose of antibiotics recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Over the next decade, I struggled with worsening symptoms. Two more doctors said I was cured and that the fatigue, pain and other problems all were in my head.
Eventually an infectious disease doctor agreed that I had chronic Lyme disease. I was treated for a year with doxycycline and azithromycin (doxycycline for the active form bacteria, and azithromycin for the dormant cyst form). I have been mostly pain free since then. Have there been any changes in the way Lyme disease is diagnosed and treated, so others won’t have to suffer as I did?
A. Lyme disease remains one of the most controversial and challenging infections that patients experience. According to the CDC, as many as 300,000 Americans contract this tick-borne disease annually.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, headache and sometimes rash. Typically this would take a bull’s-eye appearance, but it is not always present. Fatigue and pain in muscles and joints is common. Treatment with an antibiotic is most effective in the early stages of Lyme infection, but the standard diagnostic tests are not very accurate during the first several weeks. As a result, some doctors in areas where Lyme disease is common begin antibiotic treatment even before the test results are available.
Physicians have been baffled by people who continue to suffer arthritis, brain fog, fatigue and other symptoms long after they have completed treatment. A recent estimate predicts that this total might soon reach almost 2 million people (BMC Public Health, April 24, 2019). New diagnostic approaches will use genomic techniques to identify the infection early, when it can be treated most successfully.
Q. I have been taking a statin to control cholesterol for nearly 20 years. Over this time, my fasting blood sugar and HbA1C have risen steadily.
My A1C just hit 7, so I am now officially a Type 2 diabetic. When I asked the doctor about the connection between statins and diabetes, he said these reports are based on small populations and are not credible. Is that correct?
A. Actually, your physician has not kept up with the medical literature. One of the trials pointing to a link was called JUPITER. In it, 17,802 older individuals volunteered to take rosuvastatin or placebo (New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 20, 2018). There was a 26% higher chance of diabetes among those taking rosuvastatin. Many other studies confirm this link.
You can learn more about the association between statins and other drugs that can raise blood sugar in our Guide to Managing Diabetes. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. DM-11, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717-2027. It can also be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
(In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.)