Kris Kristofferson’s Lyme Disease or “Dementia”? It’s Completely Different
The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. There are typical symptoms like headache, fever, fatigue, and very characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If we leave it untreated, this infection can spread to the heart, joints, and the nervous system.
The actor and songwriter Kris Kristofferson has Lyme disease. Of course, it is not good news. For years he was misdiagnosed. His doctors were assuming his issues are coming from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Luckily, this year someone finally did a test and it came back positive.
Lisa, his wife remembers him taking medications for things he didn’t have. Therefore, he was dealing with all side effects. But, he was back after just three weeks of Lyme treatment.
A bite of an infected blacklegged or deer tick cause Lyme disease. If the tick is a lyme carrier and the bite is left untreated, weeks or months later it can eventually cause a host of debilitating symptoms,.
Most bites actually come from the immature form of the tick- the nymph. It is about the size of a poppy seed. Therefore, the bite can easily go unnoticed.
The following symptoms of Lyme Disease appear:
- Severe headaches
- Additional rashes on other parts of the body
- Neck stiffness
- Arthritis with swelling and severe joint pain, often in the knees
- Muscle and joint pain that comes and goes
- Facial or Bell’s palsy
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat (Lyme carditis)
- Shortness of breath or Dizziness
- Nerve pain
- Numbness, shooting pains or tingling in the hands or feet
- Short-term memory problems
Other cognitive problems can occur even after months or years of infection:
- slowed thinking
- problems remembering words or names
- “brain fog”
- difficulty following conversations
The symptoms that Kristofferson was experiencing were similar. That’s why doctors assumed he was suffering from dementia. Many patients however, say that their doctors often either assume it’s something else or brush it off. They pay little attention to their persisting symptoms.
The medical establishment has been at odds for years. There is strong dispute among them about how current testing methods are reliable and if people should in fact call it a lasting illness. According to the CDC, about 300,000 people a year are diagnosed with Lyme disease.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on its website says “CLD or the term ‘chronic Lyme disease’ has been actually used to describe people with different illnesses,”. “People use this term to describe illness in patients with Lyme disease. Also in many occasions people use it to describe symptoms in people who have no evidence of a past or current infection with [the Lyme bacterium].
The best way to prevent Lyme is to keep from getting bitten. Avoid wooded areas with high grass, a lot of brush and leaf litter.
Don’t forget that your pets can also bring them inside so make sure to protect them too. If you use traditional methods, your vet can prescribe something but lavender and geranium oil are also good, natural deterrents for ticks.