Antibiotics, such as doxycycline or
amoxicillin, are the main treatment for
The goals of treatment are
to eliminate the infection and prevent complications of Lyme disease, such as
problems involving the skin, joints, nervous system, or heart.
type of antibiotic prescribed, the amount, and whether the medicine is taken
orally, as an injection, or through a vein
(intravenous, or IV) depends on how bad your symptoms
are and how long you've had Lyme disease. Oral antibiotics are prescribed for
early Lyme disease. Either oral or intravenous antibiotics may be used to
treat late Lyme disease symptoms.
(IV) antibiotics are the treatment of choice if your
nervous system 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. IV antibiotics are also used if the Lyme
disease bacteria or
antibodies against the bacteria have been found in
your spinal fluid.
Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed first
chronic Lyme arthritis (recurring swelling and joint
pain), but IV antibiotics may be tried if the oral antibiotics do not
Antibiotics, such as doxycycline, amoxicillin,
cefotaxime, or penicillin, are used to treat Lyme disease.
The type of antibiotic
your doctor gives you and the number of days you take it depends on your
symptoms and the stage of the disease. Talk to your doctor if you have any
questions about your antibiotic treatment.
There used to be a
vaccine for prevention of Lyme disease in high-risk areas, but it is no longer
available because of uncertainty over its effectiveness and lack of demand.
What To Think About
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
circular rash , and a history of exposure to ticks in geographic regions where
Lyme disease is known to occur.
Blood tests reveal antibodies to the Lyme disease bacteria in
your blood, spinal fluid, or joint fluid.
- You are a pregnant or breast-feeding and are bitten by a
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:
- Some symptoms simply take longer to resolve.
- 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 do not respond to antibiotic
treatment. Lyme disease may trigger
chronic fatigue syndrome, or you may be
misdiagnosed as having Lyme disease when you really
have a chronic fatigue condition.
The first course of antibiotics almost always cures the
infection. If symptoms continue, additional evaluation may be needed.