Antibiotic prescription ineffective against long-term symptoms of Lyme disease infection

Antibiotic prescription ineffective against long-term symptoms of Lyme disease infection

Long-term use of antibiotics does not bring any benefits for Borrelia infections
In a current study, scientists found antibiotic therapy to be ineffective in treating the long-term symptoms of so-called Lyme disease even after taking it for twelve weeks. Thus, antibiotics do not seem to be the right medication to help patients with long-term complaints of a Borrelia infection.

People with a Borrelia infection often suffer from severe complications, such as muscle or joint pain. For a long time now, doctors have been looking for agents that enable effective treatment here. In a recent study, researchers at the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen found that antibiotic treatment did not work properly. The scientists published the results of their study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Medical professionals are testing two different antibiotic applications
Many people with Lyme disease suffer from severe after-effects of the disease. For this reason, doctors have been looking for ways and means to better treat the disease. In the course of their investigations, the scientists have now found that antibiotic treatment is ineffective. Even after a twelve-week treatment, no significant improvements could be demonstrated, the experts explain. For their investigation, the researchers analyzed the data from 280 subjects. The new study was the largest study to date in patients with chronic symptoms after Borrelia infection. It tested whether one of two different antibiotic applications can help treat the disease successfully. Both applications were unsuccessful, the doctors add.

Antibiotic treatment has similar results to using placebo
After 12 weeks of therapy with the antibiotic doxycycline, 86 volunteers answered a questionnaire on their state of health with a rating of 35, with the scale ranging from 15 to 61 points and 61 representing the highest quality of life, the scientists explain. A 12-week treatment of 96 patients with a combination of clarithromycin and hydroxychloroquine achieved a score of 35.6. After 12 weeks, the placebo group stated that their health status should be rated with 34.8 points, the doctors say. These figures clearly show that even long-term use of antibiotics is only slightly different from using placebo, according to Professor Dr. Bart Jan Kullberg from Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen.

New therapies urgently need to be developed
Active Lyme infection is not the cause of symptoms such as pain, tiredness, sleep disorders and a loss of mental acuity, which occur with a significant delay in 10 to 20 percent of patients. Most of the time the disease is treated with short-term antibiotic therapy, the researchers explain. However, if symptoms persist, we don't really know what is causing this syndrome, Prof. Kullberg told Reuters Health. However, the correct response was apparently not prescribing extended antibiotic treatment. Previous studies had shown similar results. A new way must be found that can control the disregulated immune system, say the doctors. More research is needed to find out how best to treat patients with such a condition.

Antibiotic applications are ineffective and cause side effects
At the beginning of the test, all subjects received intravenous antibiotic therapy with the drug ceftriaxone for two weeks to destroy all active short-term infections, the experts explain. The patients had previously usually undergone two treatments with antibiotic therapy. The study divided all patients into three groups. All three groups reported being less tired and feeling better physically and mentally, the researchers say. But these improvements were not significantly greater in the two groups with active medication use than in the group that only received placebo, says Prof. Kullberg. In addition, no significant changes were observed in the course of the 26-week follow-up examination. The only serious side effects were seen during the first two weeks of using ceftriaxone. Although the side effects were usually minor, 68.6 percent of the patients experienced at least one side effect, the doctors say. Overall, the results suggest that medical professionals should not prescribe long-term use of antibiotics in Lyme disease, the scientists concluded. (as)

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