Studies have shown that people treated with antibiotics in the early stages of the infection can be cured rapidly and completely. A 14 to 21 day course of oral antibiotics is usually recommended. Those with later stages of Lyme disease may benefit from an additional course of antibiotic therapy, though longer courses of antibiotic treatment have been linked to serious complications.
Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment of Lyme disease include:
Doxycycline (not usually prescribed for children)
If the disease has progressed, or certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness are present, a 14 to 28 day course of intravenous treatment with drugs such as ceftriaxone or penicillin may be recommended. Intravenous antibiotics should be used with caution as they can cause various side effects, including a lower white blood cell count, gallstones, and mild to severe diarrhea.
Pregnant women with Lyme disease are treated almost the same as non-pregnant women, except some antibiotics may not be used because they may affect the fetus. Studies have found that there are no negative effects on a fetus if a mother is treated for Lyme disease with appropriate antibiotics.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers and health care providers to avoid bismacine, which is an injectable compound prescribed by some alternative medicine practioners to treat Lyme disease. Bismacine can cause bismuth poisoning and can lead to heart and kidney failure.
Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, are sometimes prescribed to relieve the joint stiffness that can accompany Lyme disease.