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Babesia Basics

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Someone close to me is having a mystery illness. As it was described to me, all I could think was Babesia. I don’t pretend to be able to diagnose anything. But, given that this person lives on Long Island, I suggested getting tested for tick-borne illnesses. Meanwhile, I looked for some links to decent information about Babesia (the name of the microbe) and Babesiosis (the name of the illness).

Here is what I found that I thought was sufficiently not misleading to be worth sharing.

Each of these has good information and some have misleading information as well. For example, most places suggest that Babesiosis is very rare. Meanwhile, I read a while back about new concerns for the blood transfusion supply because Babesia is hard/expensive to test for, and many people who have it are asymptomatic. There was a suggestion that a much larger number of people have it than previously thought. This is a big deal because Babesia is an infection that lives and reproduces in red blood cells. I can’t find the article, but I found a list of articles about the Babesia in the blood supply.

Other places suggest that Babesia causes all three of the following: flu-like symptoms, symptoms that can kill you or no symptoms at all. I found these confusing. In people with compromised immune systems, such as those who might have just needed a blood transfusion or people with no spleens, babesiosis can rapidly turn into a deadly illness. On the other hand, some people will be asymptomatic and either knock out the infection or keep it at bay with their immune system.

Then there is the rest of us. Once infected, we might get an immediate reaction to the infection, a flu-like illness that lasts a few days or a few weeks. If our bodies don’t succeed in suppressing or destroying the infection, the symptoms look something like this.

  • Occasional fatigue that puts us to bed for a weekend every now and then
  • Intermittent bouts of night sweats
  • Occasional severe headaches that might make us sensitive to light
  • Muscle aches and pains that eventually go away for a time
  • Occasional heart symptoms that have no obvious cause (palpitations, chest pressure, low blood pressure)
  • Carpel tunnel like symptoms in the hands and wrists that don’t quite fit the classic carpel tunnel diagnostic criteria
  • Respiratory symptoms, like you can’t get enough air or a dry cough
  • Loss of apetite and weight, then GI symptoms progress to nausea and vomiting
  • Sometimes it feels like our minds are working in slow motion, then they work fine again the next day

The symptoms come in flares, then disappear. It feels like they are from stress because they appear or get worse when there is emotional stress or work or school stress. Then when everything is done and we have a few days to rest, they kind of clear up.

Mostly, none of these symptoms are enough to seek medical attention, and when we do, the doctors don’t know what to do with them. So as long as we can tolerate it, we don’t get tested for anything and don’t get treated, but are told to take it easy. And even when we can’t tolerate the symptoms anymore because they keep getting worse, no one thinks of testing for Babesia.

There are further complications. The tests are most accurate with a blood smear on patients near death who contracted the illness within the past few weeks. For the rest of us, even when we have a raging infection, the tests can come out in the ambiguous range. Plus, there are several subspecies of Babesia, and the tests only detect three of them. So a negative blood test doesn’t rule out the illness.

The final kicker is that people with symptomatic babesiosis often need to be treated for much longer than the current guidelines, which say to stop after a defined period of time even if the infection is still active in the patient. Hello relapse.

The pharmaceutical treatment is extremely expensive. I know, I’ve taken several courses of two different versions of it.

I have Babesia along with two other tick-borne infections, which can make it hard to get rid of any of them. I’m trying to kill babesia with the coil, hoping it turns out to be the final treatment I need to destroy this and the other infections. (See an update here.)

Coiling

Tonight is, you guessed it, a Babesia night. Bartonella, too.

  • Bartonella, abdomen, 4 minutes 15 seconds
  • Babesia, chest, 1 minute
  • Candida, abdomen, 10 minutes

No chest constriction tonight with the Babesia. Just a recurrence of the lump in my throat that was bothering me earlier today.

Detox

In many ways the day was ordinary for detoxing. I noticed, once again, that skin brushing is painful on my left leg, from toe to hip, and on the verge of painful on my left arm. On the right side and on my torso it is a tolerable sensation.

  • homeopathic support
  • kombucha
  • juiced greens
  • lemon water
  • skin brushing
  • BioMat/infrared heat (2 hours last night sleeping on level 2, 3 hours this morning sleeping on level 2)
  • castor oil pack on liver

Body

My Herx is on the move. My spine hurt less this morning than yesterday morning. The pain is moving out into all my joints on both sides and along my nerves in my left limbs. The headache was significantly reduced this morning (thanks colestid). I still have it, but it’s tolerable.

No night sweats last night, despite so much time sleeping on a heated surface. That’s how I know the night sweats come from the inside rather than being a response to the ambient temperature.

My hands are hurting. My eyes are sensitive to light. My left shoulder has been popping all day. The lump in my throat was pretty invasive, making it hard to swallow my pills with dinner. I had a sore throat part of the day and an earache in both ears.

Post yoga, the muscles in my upper arms and shoulders are a little sore. Sore in mostly a good, just did exercise, maybe building some muscle tissue, kind of way. During the yoga class, we did a lot of vinyasas (a vinyasa is a sequence of poses) going from plank pose to chaturanga dandasana to cobra to downward dog, sometimes modifying the poses. It is a series that builds the stomach muscles (the “core”) as well as the upper arms and shoulders.

I could use some more time on the BioMat tonight to melt those tired muscles and clean them out.

Good Stuff

I saw my parents’ 99 year old neighbor, who was my neighbor while I was growing up, this evening. After we greeted, she immediately said, “Did you do your hair today?”

I wanted to laugh aloud. She notices everything, especially cosmetic things. I did wash my hair today. It is curlier when the weather is damp. (I look better when my joints feel worse.) I enjoyed the compliment.

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