Lyme Disease: Hyperbaric Oxygen vs Antibiotics

Published on
July 11, 2019

Lyme disease is a growing medical concern in the United States. The CDC estimates that as many as 300,000 people are infected each year. While early treatment is often successful, the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease is often resistant to antibiotics. Long-term antibiotic therapy can lead to the development of many different medical conditions and antibiotic resistance. However, a new treatment, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, is proving beneficial in both research studies and clinical settings. It is offering relief to many patients suffering from Lyme disease. Here are some important facts to consider when it comes to Lyme Disease and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, or HBOT, and how it can help you regain your quality of life.

First Course of Treatment is Antibiotics

A healthcare provider ordering antibiotics

In the initial stages of Lyme disease, the standard treatment is a course of antibiotics. This includes doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. In extreme cases where Lyme disease is already causing organ involvement, intravenous antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone and penicillin, are administered. A typical treatment plan lasts up to 21 days. While this is often enough to reduce the symptoms, studies are showing it may not be enough to kill the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes, the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease Bacteria Survive 28-day Course of Antibiotics

Unfortunately, new research is showing that the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes can continue to survive, even after a 28-day course of antibiotic treatment. A recent study by researchers at Tulane University supports the claims of many Lyme disease patients. These patients continue to experience symptoms after antibiotic treatment. And even when blood tests say they no longer have Lyme disease.

Borrelia burgdorferi

Researchers discovered that the B. burgdorferi spirochetes have the ability to adapt to the host, can escape immune recognition, and even tolerate the antibiotics, allowing them to invade the brain and the heart. The lead researcher, Monica Embers, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology stated, “In this study, we were able to observe the existence of microscopic disease and low numbers of bacteria which would be difficult to ‘see’ in humans but could possibly be the cause of the variable and nonspecific symptoms that are characteristic of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. Although current antibiotic regimens may cure most patients who are treated early, if the infection is allowed to progress, the 28-day treatment may be insufficient, based on these findings.”

Some of those findings also show that all subjects treated with antibiotics had some level of infection up to 12 months post-treatment. Even after testing negative for Lyme disease antibody tests, subjects were still infected in the heart and bladder.

No Medical Evidence That Prolonged Antibiotic Therapy is Beneficial

There is no medical evidence that prolonged antibiotic treatments for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome or chronic Lyme disease are effective. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, numerous studies have shown that patients that receive prolonged courses of antibiotics show no difference in symptoms to that of patients taking a placebo.

Additional Antibiotic Treatment Can Lead to Serious Medical Complications

In many cases, patients do not respond to the initial course of antibiotic therapy. When this happens, doctors diagnose them with chronic Lyme disease and put them on additional courses of antibiotics. This is not a proven course of treatment and, in many cases, is leading to serious medical complications. A 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at five cases of patients receiving additional antibiotic therapies for chronic Lyme disease. These five patients received treatment with multiple courses of antibiotics, both oral and intravenous. This resulted in septic shock, Clostridium difficile colitis, osteodiscitis, abscess, and even death.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Offers a Non-Invasive Alternative Treatment

A Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Room

For patients with Lyme disease, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, offers a non-invasive alternative that actually kills the B. burgdorferi spirochetes in the body. It has been determined that B. burgdorferi is unable to survive at oxygen levels greater than 30mm. HBOT floods a person’s body with 100 percent oxygen at increased pressure levels. This elevated level of oxygen in the body kills the bacteria and helps the body heal from the infection.

Numerous case studies show successful results from HBOT for patients that have undergone numerous courses of antibiotics with no success. A 2014 report looked at a 31-year-old man that had spent years undergoing antibiotic treatments with no success. After 30 HBOT sessions, the man’s symptoms disappeared. Another case report involved a 58-year-old man who had been unresponsive to traditional antibiotic treatments. After receiving HBOT treatments, the patient experienced symptom improvement. The paper concluded that HBOT treatment was an effective method of treatment and they should explore additional clinical trials.

If you suffer from Lyme disease and are looking for an effective treatment option, hyperbaric oxygen is your answer. This non-invasive treatment option allows you to relax in a comfortable chamber while the increased oxygen levels kill the bacteria responsible for your symptoms.

For more information on Lyme disease and HBOT, visit our Lyme Disease page or give our office a call today to set up an initial consultation. Visit HERE to fill out our online information request form.