It seems everywhere you turn, you hear about a celebrity being diagnosed with Lyme disease, from Avril Lavigne to Desperate Housewives star Yolanda Foster. I remember watching a Good Morning America video in which Lavigne talks about doctors dismissing her symptoms and saying she was depressed, stressed or faking symptoms.
Lavigne broke down on camera and described how at one point she thought she was dying. Unfortunately, the experiences she went through are not uncommon. If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or Lyme disease, you might have had a similar experience on the road to getting an official diagnosis, with doctors dismissing symptoms as stress or depression.
These conditions cause similar symptoms like intense pain and muscle aches, headaches, cognitive disturbances such as brain fog and memory lapses, neurological problems, depression, anxiety and unrelenting fatigue. But you may not realize how common Lyme disease really is. Did you know that Lyme disease is the leading vector-borne epidemic worldwide? It mimics common diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), rheumatoid arthritis and MS, as well as psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 10 times more individuals have been affected by Lyme than previously suspected.
If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you might have been tested for Lyme disease at some point prior to your doctor concluding your fibromyalgia diagosis. Does that mean you don’t have Lyme disease if your test was negative? It might not.
Since the blood test for diagnosing Lyme disease has been shown to be unreliable, nearly 56% of patients with Lyme disease test negative using the two-tiered testing system recommended by the CDC, which is the standard test most doctors use. For fibromyalgia sufferers, that probably means a certain percentage of people diagnosed with FM may, in fact, be suffering from Lyme disease.
If you think you may have Lyme disease, I urge you to discuss it with your doctor and arrange to undergo any needed tests.
Whatever illness affects you, please realize that you are your own greatest health advocate. No one cares more about your health than you do, and only you know how you feel. Never let a doctor or anyone else tell you how you should feel. If your concerns aren’t being addressed to your satisfaction, it might be time to consider finding a new doctor. Take charge of your health and your life.
I’d like to finish by sending a special thank-you to Avril Lavigne and all the celebrities who brought this, as well as other important health topics, into the spotlight.