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Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Are there specific gender responses in Lyme disease?
This is speculative and not based on any study. Symptomatic Lyme disease appears to be more common in women than men. However, when men develop Lyme disease they are frequently sicker and more difficult to treat. Women have a more robust immune response. In fact, autoimmune disorders are about twice as common in women as men. The flip side of the coin is that men are more susceptible to infection. So when men do finally present with Lyme, it may be more severe and more widely disseminated. Women may have significant symptoms far earlier in the course of the disease, due to reactive immune systems, bringing them to treatment much earlier. Many of my quick responders to treatment are women. A confounding issue is that in general, women utilize health care services to a much greater extent than men. Men tend to ignore symptoms until they are pretty far down the road. This is an observation. I wouldn't hang my hat on it. But is an area of speculation worth looking into at some point.