In the northeast U.S., late October means we anticipate the end of tick season. And the end of tick season greatly reduces the threat of lyme disease. The problem, however, is that climate change may be extending tick season. If you walk a dog a lot, particularly in grassy or wooded areas, you may have noticed that ticks still manage to turn up on the dog into November and December. They probably turn up on you, too. That’s why I wanted to look again at infrared sauna for lyme disease.
Avoid the Infection
Lyme disease is the result of a bacterial infection. There are four kinds of bacteria that cause it. Two of them occur in Europe, which has its own version of lyme disease. One of them — borrelia mayonii — is recently discovered and seems to be limited in its range to Wisconsin and Minnesota. The one we worry about here in the northeast U.S. is borrelia burgdorferi.
The good news about borrelia is that it lives in deer ticks. That means you need to be bitten by a deer tick in order to get the disease. Furthermore, the tick needs to stay attached to you for 36 to 48 hours. Because it requires a tick, and the tick needs to stay engaged with you for such a long time, you have several opportunities to avoid getting the disease. You can stay out of grassy and woody areas, you can dress in a way that protects you from ticks, and you can check yourself for ticks when you come indoors. Note, however, that a deer tick is about the size of a pinhead and can be difficult to spot.
Treat Lyme Disease Early
If you miss those opportunities, get a tick bite, and then get infected, you will need treatment. Look for a red rash at the site of the bite. That occurs in about 80% of cases. You may also experience early symptoms: headache, muscle and joint aches, fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to fight the borrelia, and that treatment clears up 90% of cases. If you don’t catch it early, however, or if you are one of the unfortunate 10% who don’t shake it with antibiotics, the disease can advance. Advancement may mean new rashes, neck stiffness, arthritis, loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face, irregular heartbeat, or inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Infrared Sauna for Lyme Disease
I wish I could tell you that infrared sauna helps to treat the infection, but there’s no evidence it does. What it can do, however, is help with the recovery. As the antibiotics kill the bacteria in your system, the dying bacteria release toxins. Your body eliminates the toxins on its own, but sometimes it has trouble keeping up with the load, and this is known as the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, or “herxing.” Herxing is a battery of flu-like symptoms, including headache, malaise, fever, nausea, and hives.
Some users report that infrared sauna helps with herxing. It does this by stimulating perspiration, which can help carry away the toxins. The Lyme experts with experience of infrared sauna advise you to start slow: two 10-15 minute sessions per week, since excessive detoxification can cause symptoms on its own.
If you’re recovering from lyme disease and are subject to herxing, talk with your doctor and ask if infrared sauna can provide some relief. Then book a session at Peak Recovery & Health Center.
Photo: Hartman Park: Lyme: Connecticut by Brian Ghillotti. Lyme disease was discovered in 1975 during an epidemic of rheumatoid arthritis among children around Lyme, Connecticut. Researchers found that playing in wooded areas, probably like the one in the photo, exposed the children to deer tick bites. CC PDM 1.0