My patient today is a 60 year old female who has suffered with severe Lyme disease for more than 3 years. At one point she was mistakenly diagnosed with tertiary syphilis. Most recently symptoms have included: burning sensations, numbness, twitching, palpitations, flulike symptoms, difficulty walking with leg weakness, double vision, forgetfulness, brain fog, joint pains and mood swings. At this time she is very troubled by symptoms of head and ear fullness.
I will tell you a little bit more about my patient. She suffers with chronic hepatitis C contracted from a blood transfusion in 1989. Several years ago she was diagnosed with Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia -- before the Lyme diagnosis. This was treated with chemotherapy and plasmapheresis and she has done quite well. Waldenstrom's is a type of B-cell type non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
A paper published in 2008, Archives of Internal Medicine, Koshiol et al, reviewed the relationship between WM (Waldenstrom's) and chronic immune stimulation. Persons with autoimmune diseases had a 2-3 fold increased risk of developing the disease. In addition, certain infectious diseases were also linked to an increase risk of the disease. Prominently the authors mention Hepatitis C and rickettsiosis. Autoimmune diseases listed include rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and MS.
WM is a rare type of lymphoma. Although incurable, it can have a rather indolent course. Suffering with Hep C, lymphoma and Lyme, my patient is most troubled by Lyme.
One might wonder if chronic Lyme disease might itself be a risk factor for the cancer.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been somewhat helpful but she still experiences a fullness in her ear and head which are very bothersome symptoms. She has only been treated for one month and we are hopeful that additional treatments will provide additional relief of symptoms. She has only had 20 sessions. My patients have done better with 40-60 sessions.
There is a high pressure vs low pressure HBOT controversy. Many believe that HBOT for Lyme is only effective with the higher pressures typically available with hospital grade chambers. Pressures of 2.4 ATA are generally recommended. This equates with a diving depth of 49 feet underwater. Others have suggested that lower pressures, typically 1.5 ATA, equal to about 17 feet under water may be adequate or better.
Soft portable chambers on the market generally employ a pressure of 1.3 ATA, about 10 feet under water. This is the FDA approved pressure for such devices. Many patients report excellent results with these devices and pressures.
My Hyperbaric device is a bit of a hybrid. Some portable devices are built to handle higher pressures although they are not licensed by the FDA for pressures above 1.3. My portable, extra-strong chamber has 3 settings: 1.3, 1.5 and 1.6. The highest pressure, 1.6 is the equivalent of diving 20 feet down. I have found that all three pressures are effective but the higher 1.6 pressure seems to be the most effective. As an example, it worked well for this patient.