There is a lot of controversy regarding the connection between Lyme disease and ALS.
To understand the debate, let’s discuss some basics of both diseases as described by the experts.
What is Lyme Disease:
Most people know that you get Lyme Disease from an infected tick, but many people don’t understand or realize the damage caused by Lyme Disease. If left untreated, the disease can lead to severe and life threatening medical issues.
“Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne illness in the United States, is a multi-system illness usually caused by infection with the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and the body’s immune response to the infection. The disease is transmitted to humans via tick bites, from infected ticks of the genus Ixodes.”
What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder for which there is no cure. Life expectancy following a diagnosis is two to five years.
“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) that are responsible for controlling voluntary muscles (muscle action we are able to control, such as those in the arms, legs, and face). This disease belongs to a group of disorders known as motor neuron diseases, which are characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons.”
How are these two diseases different?
ALS is currently an incurable disease. Lyme disease can be treated when discovered in a timely manner by antibiotics. If left untreated, Lyme disease can result in devastating medical problems and death. Lyme disease is known to mimic many of the symptoms of other diseases causing issues on diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
Because ALS and Lyme disease can exhibit similar symptoms, incidents of misdiagnosis of Lyme Disease as ALS have been reported. This very recent case reported by NBC highlights a misdiagnosis of ALS when the patient actually had Lyme disease. The patient’s doctor insisted he had ALS, and they accepted the reality of this diagnosis.
“Matt remembered.”He said, “Enough’s enough. The reality is, you have ALS, and you know, you really need to embrace what I am telling you.” Matt’s family was told to help him come to terms with his death.
But inside their home, the Slatner family was doing their own research on Lyme symptoms and everything kept pointing to those tick bites.
“Every single thing is a Lyme symptom,” Stephanie said, remembering the long days and nights of research, three busy kids, and a husband who was slowly fading away. “No one would listen. I mean, they made us both feel like we were crazy.”
Does everyone with ALS have Lyme?
“Lyme disease does not cause ALS, and generally in a diagnostic workup, a neurologist can easily separate ALS from Lyme infections, either clinically or with testing.”
Despite the current belief that Lyme disease does not cause ALS, some studies have shown that many PALS do test positively for Lyme. This has caused a lot of disagreement between physicians and patients citing high statistical evidence of Lyme in many patients with ALS as more than just a coincidence.
Lyme Disease mimics other diseases
( Image Ref: http://lymediseaseguide.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/lyme-disease-treatment-diagnosis.gif)
Does Lyme cause ALS?
Many ALS patients have tested positively for Lyme disease, but not all Lyme patients develop ALS. Currently, there is no definitive proof that Lyme disease causes ALS. Although often mistaken for ALS with similar symptoms, Lyme can be treated with antibiotics and other protocols dependent on the severity and progression. A cure for ALS still has not been found, but the Deanna Protocol has been shown to help with quality of life.
This topic continues to be a source of debate among physicians and PALS, with controversy evident on the internet and social media. If you are bitten by a tick, please seek medical attention immediately.
For more information on Lyme Disease: visit http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/
For more information on ALS: http://www.alsa.org/about-als/
 Ref: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/330178-overview
 Ref: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis/detail_ALS.htm