Dear Pharmacist,

My life’s never been the same since 2004. Overnight, I developed arthritis, vertigo, headaches and fatigue. I used to run every day! I’ve been to 10 doctors for never-ending symptoms too embarrassing to list. Last week, I fell in love with you Suzy because you wrote about “Lyme Disease” and I looked it up. It explains my life. I called my doctor, but she said Lyme isn’t common here, and dismissed me, so I’m stuck now. Can you offer guidance?

--S.N., Chicago

Answer: You’re not “stuck,” there are many Lyme literate medical doctors (LLMDs) in our country, and here are three people who educate: Dr. Lee Cowden, Dr. Joseph Burrascano and Stephen Harrod Buhner; each has a different viewpoint. The controversy surrounding Lyme is latched on tighter than a tick.

Lyme is frequently dismissed or misdiagnosed leaving you sick, tired and eventually disabled. It mimics multiple sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and epilepsy so it’s hard to pin down. Bummer, because if you’re diagnosed incorrectly, precious antimicrobials needed to kill Lyme bugs are never taken, leading to potentially catastrophic problems. I’m not being melodramatic, ask any Lyme sufferer! No two patients have the same symptoms, which come and go: Chronic pain, exhaustion, brain fog, poor memory, insomnia, yeast infections, twitches, trigeminal neuralgia, anxiety, back/neck pain, neuropathy, migraines, dizziness, muscle/joint pain, cramps, bladder or testicular pain, urethritis, buzzing, sound sensitivity, eye or ear pain, air hunger and irregular heartbeat. That’s for starters.

Don’t assume there has to be a tick bite, followed by a bullseye rash. That rash only occurs in 50 percent of people, and most won’t ever see a tick, some of which are the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Besides, ticks are not the only way to get infected. Lyme is carried by fleas, biting flies, lice, mosquitoes and dust mites. Kissing or having sex with someone who has Lyme may cause transmission. Some people carry Lyme even though they’re asymptomatic and well. Oh, and it can remain dormant for months to years.

If you have a long history of health issues, with symptoms that change daily or monthly, but never go away, I’d seriously consider Lyme testing by a lab that specializes in it, for example Galaxy, Igenex, Fry or Advance Labs. Inaccurate results by regular labs may produce a false negative, so you think you don’t have Lyme when you do. Years of misery could ensue. The medical disparity between testing labs is unfathomable so I urge you to test using one of my suggested labs. They’re expensive, but worth it. Don’t assume Lyme infection is caused only by Borellia burgdorferi, because other co-infecting organisms such as Babesia, Rickettsia, Bartonella or Ehrlichia could be behind your symptoms. My recommended labs are better at detecting those bugs. Finally, the “CD57” blood test offers a clue, and tracks your progress, and I recommend LabCorp for that particular test. Visit ilads.org for more Lyme information.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website, SuzyCohen.com

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)