It’s early 2020 and chances are, if you pick up a newspaper or flip on the news, you’re going to be bombarded with coronavirus updates. And if you’re living with Lyme disease and its devastating effects, you are likely concerned about how to best protect yourself during this difficult time.
Lyme disease and the co-infections that often accompany it, can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to catching contagious illnesses – like the coronavirus. But the good news is, you have control over how you react and can take some powerful steps to defend yourself against this emerging virus.
Let’s take a look at exactly how you can best protect yourself from coronavirus while living with Lyme disease.
What Is The Coronavirus?
The strain of coronavirus that is currently posing a health threat across the globe is officially known as SARS-COV-2.1 This strain of coronavirus causes a condition called COVID-19 that can cause symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening. The cardinal symptoms of coronavirus are:2
- Shortness of breath
Some individuals can contract the coronavirus and have mild symptoms that resolve on their own. But for certain people, contracting the coronavirus can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.
Who Is Most at Risk of Contracting The Coronavirus?
While anyone can potentially catch the coronavirus – even if they’re young and healthy – the primary concern is the extent to which coronavirus may affect you. The people most susceptible to serious and life-threatening reactions to COVID-19 are individuals that:3
- Have respiratory diseases (like COPD or asthma)
- Those above 65 years of age
- Are immune-compromised
- Have other underlying serious health conditions
Having an underlying infection like Lyme disease as well as the co-infections that usually come along with it, puts you at an increased risk when it comes to coronavirus. So, especially important to take precautions to protect yourself.
Exactly How Does Lyme Disease Affect the Body?
Lyme disease is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria known as Borrelia Burdorferi that is usually introduced into the body through a tick bite. This microorganism has been dubbed “The Great Imitator” because it causes a systemic infection that’s tricky to diagnose because it’s symptoms may imitate many other conditions such as:4
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Part of what makes Lyme disease such a troublesome infection is if it’s not diagnosed and treated early, the bacteria can rapidly reproduce and go into hiding in different parts of the body. Once these microorganisms have made themselves at home, they’re notoriously difficult to eliminate and can wreak havoc on your health.
On top of being able to “hideout” in your body, Lyme disease also suppresses your immune system as a way of protecting itself from being eradicated by your immune cells.5 If that doesn’t make Lyme disease challenging enough, Lyme disease is often accompanied by coinfections. This makes it even more complicated to treat and detrimental to your health.
Lyme Disease and Coinfections
Because ticks often carry other disease-causing microorganisms that can be spread to humans, many individuals with Lyme disease also have what is known as coinfections. Coinfections occur when a tick bite transmits multiple infectious microorganisms – with the most common coinfections including:6,7
- Lyme borreliosis
- Powassan virus
- B. miyamotoi
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
There are literally hundreds of different combinations of microorganisms that can “coinfect” your body.
Lyme Disease and Coronavirus – An Increased Risk
Being infected with Lyme disease and a potential cocktail of other tick-borne infections spells trouble for your immune system in the sequence:
- Borrelia Burdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) can actually disable certain aspects of your immune system. This suppression of your immune system allows the bacteria to “hideout” in your body;
- While certain aspects of your immune system may be disabled, it doesn’t entirely shut it off. Your body still launches attack after attack in an attempt to eliminate both Lyme disease and any other “co-infectious” microorganisms, if present.;
- This low-level chronic inflammation taxes your immune system, leaving it with less and less resources to direct at any new threats;
- This exhaustion of your immune system can eventually cause your immune system to malfunction entirely – leading to autoimmunity where your body mistakenly begins attacking itself.8
This sequence of events means your immune system is not functioning on all cylinders. So if you’re exposed to a potentially dangerous virus – like the coronavirus – your body is less prepared to fight it off.
Protecting Yourself From Coronavirus
If you have Lyme disease, your best defense against the coronavirus is to take a four-pronged approach by:
- Taking extra precautions to avoid potential contact with the virus
- Minimizing inflammation that can further tax your immune system
- Supporting your immune system so it has a better chance of fighting off pathogens
- Helping your body detox and eliminate harmful compounds
Here are the steps I recommend taking:
Take Extra Precautions
Taking some basic precautions goes a long way in protecting yourself. Just being cognizant of potential exposure to germs is half the battle. If you have Lyme disease, it’s especially important for you to follow the principles of avoiding exposure such as:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick or who’ve been around others that are sick
- Practicing social distancing and minimizing time spent out in public places or in close quarters with others
- Washing your hands frequently with good technique – with soap and warm water, covering all surfaces of your hands, and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds
- Always ensuring your hands are clean before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes – all pathways the virus can enter your body
- Using an alcohol-based sanitizer to clean hands when soap and water isn’t available, and only when your hands aren’t visibly soiled
- Frequently disinfecting regularly touched objects and surfaces in your home
These tips may seem simple – but these easy to follow practices are powerful ways to prevent becoming infected with the coronavirus.
If you have Lyme disease, your immune system is already disrupted. So minimizing inflammation as much as possible can help take some of the burden off of your overworked immune system. Some of the most effective ways to minimize inflammation are:
- Reduce your intake of inflammatory foods and load up on anti-inflammatory foods: The food you eat has a massive impact on inflammation levels. Avoid foods that promote inflammation like sugar, processed oils, and simple carbs. Instead load up on fresh veggies and fruits, healthy fats, and high-quality protein. Building your meals around real and whole foods is an easy way to follow a low inflammation diet.
- Prioritize quality sleep: Lack of sleep is highly inflammatory. Aim to get a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Keeping your room cool, dark, and quiet can help ensure you’re logging restful high-quality sleep.
- Manage stress: Emotional stress releases a slew of hormones that contributes to inflammation. Of course minimizing stressors in your life is a great first step, but the reality is stress is 100 percent unavoidable – so finding healthy ways to deal with stress is crucial. Techniques like meditation, yoga, a good workout, or even venting to a good friend can help manage stress levels.
- Move your body: Regular exercise can reduce inflammation levels significantly. Exercising doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym or spending hours on the treadmill. Even going for a daily walk goes a long way in lowering inflammation.
Minimizing inflammation won’t just help you fight off the coronavirus, if you have Lyme disease these are good practices whether there’s a pandemic or not.
Giving your immune system a boost will also help you feel more energized and healthy.
Help Your Body Detox
We’re all exposed to toxins on a daily basis. But if your overall toxic burden is high, it can dampen your immune system. Some ways you can help your body more effectively eliminate toxic compounds include:
- Detox binders: These binders bind themselves to toxins so they can then be removed from the body.
- Infrared saunas: The increased sweating experienced with infrared saunas can help flush toxins out through your skin.
- IV therapy: IV vitamin infusion therapy delivers important vitamins and minerals directly to your bloodstream to support nutritional deficiencies.
It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor about what detox options are the best for you.
Is There a Treatment for Coronavirus?
Currently, there’s not a specific treatment for coronavirus. For many that have a mild case of COVID-19, treatment measures are supportive – focusing on things like:
- Adequate nutrition and hydration
- Supplemental oxygen if needed
To learn more about the emerging treatments for coronavirus, head over to my article Is There A Cure for Coronavirus? The Scoop on Chloroquine and Other Emerging Treatments.
So, How Concerned Should You Be About Coronavirus if you have Lyme Disease?
The coronavirus is affecting all of us in one way or another. Life may never be quite the same but I also believe it is a universal opportunity to take stock and see what’s working in your life and get rid of what is no longer serving you. You’re not powerless when it comes to this virus or your health. Every choice to limit your stress, monitor your fear and anxiety, and focus on gratitude while doing the things that you can, like staying at home, practicing social distancing, choosing healthy foods to eat and getting adequate restful sleep will put you one step closer to avoiding the illness and staying healthy.
I firmly believe you are your own best advocate when it comes to your health and well being. Following the approaches detailed in this article is the best way to safeguard yourself and your loved ones from coronavirus.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Did you realize that Lyme disease makes you more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus? What steps are you taking to protect yourself and your family?
The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease state or medical condition and has not been evaluated by the <a href="https://www.fda.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FDA</a>. This is not intended to replace any recommendations by or relationship with your physician. The references included in each article allude to the level of scientific rigor I have applied to my writing. When changes become apparent we will update the information if appropriate.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.
What if you contracted Lyme disease last year and was treated successfully with a course of antibiotics. Does having had the disease at one point weaken the immune system?
Chronic EBV also causes many of these mis-diagnoses or conditions and is as bad at hiding out in the body, if not worse, than Lyme. Check out https://www.cancertreatmentsresearch.com/artemisia-annua-its-extract-artemisinin/ as a treatment option and a preventive measure for those of us with chronic conditions as we are high risk. It is being sold out all over though so it’s hard to get, esp. in the US. Also, you might want to read the Medical Medium book specifically about Lyme. He has a very interesting interpretation and viewpoint on whether Lyme is really from ticks at all or if it exists or is really just a result of chronic viral load. Very interesting stuff. Stuffing people full of anit-biotics for Lyme is about the worst thing that can be done for our health.
I’m surprised you didn’t provide some detail on DR. Dietrich Klinghardt’s protocol. He’s providing a recommendation of a protective spray (i think it has bee proopolis in it) for hands, face, eyes, and mouth that will kill the virus before it enters our body.
Ought to mention that those folks who have had their tonsils/adnoeds removed should take extra extra precaution, because they have no FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE against this respiratory attacking disease.
Awesome article! Thank you for your insites. Blessings from Peoria . . . 😉
Hi Dr. Jill
Thank you for this piece!
I live with chronic lyme and have not gotten a cold or flu in six years. I wish that I would get sick, because at least then I would know that I have a functioning immune system. There is VERY little I can find written about this phenomenon online, where some lyme people never get sick and why this is. Can you point me in the right direction or speak to this?
The fact that you rarely get ill is a possible benefit when it comes to COVID 19 as it is the innate immune response that causes the cytokines and serious symptoms in this virus. I think that patients who have an underachieve innate immune system may actually fare better than average.
Thank you for this, Dr. Jill.
As someone currently battling mycotoxins and mold illness, do the same concerns and precautions apply as Lyme disease?
Yes, there are some similarities