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Lyme Disease - Treatment Overview

Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.

The type of antibiotic your doctor gives you and the number of days you take it will depend on your symptoms and the stage of the disease. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotic treatment.

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Early treatment

Antibiotic treatment for early Lyme disease is effective, and symptoms usually go away within 3 weeks of treatment.

The earlier antibiotic treatment is started after infection, the faster and more completely you will recover.

If Lyme disease isn't diagnosed and treated until later problems arise, it may take you a long time to get better. Or you may need more treatment.

Later treatment

If the disease gets worse, treatment options include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These are usually helpful for symptoms of arthritis that can occur with late Lyme disease.
  • Antibiotics. These may be used for achy joints caused by chronic Lyme arthritis. But joints that have been badly damaged by Lyme arthritis may take a long time to get better, or antibiotics may not improve symptoms.
  • Long-term antibiotics. These are commonly used to treat nervous system problems such as tingling and numbness or conditions such as meningitis.
  • Antibiotics plus other treatments. These are used to help people who develop serious heart problems, such as severe irregular heartbeat or pericarditis, from Lyme disease. But these problems are extremely rare. Heart problems may start getting better on their own, even before antibiotics or other treatment has started.

People with partial facial paralysis as a result of Lyme disease may improve on their own without more treatment.

Even after successful treatment for Lyme disease, you can get it again. So it is important to continue to protect yourself against tick bites.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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