Fatigue is a potential symptom of Lyme disease. In most cases, it goes away after antibiotic treatment. If fatigue does not resolve, measures such as pacing, nutrition, and anti-inflammatory supplements may help.
Read on for five ways to treat fatigue from Lyme disease.
Rest and pacing are tools that can help with managing fatigue. Rest involves getting quality sleep and relaxation time, while pacing is a technique that helps a person manage the energy they do have.
Scientists have not studied the effects of rest or pacing in people with PTLDS, but doctors often recommend them to people with other forms of chronic fatigue, such as myalgic encephalitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
Resting more may involve:
- physically resting the body
- resting the mind by doing relaxing or restful activities
- using relaxation techniques, such as certain meditations or breathing exercises
- practicing sleep hygiene
- following a regular sleep schedule
- taking regular breaks to rest during activities
- spreading out activities over several days instead of doing them in one day
- planning time for rest before and after every activity
- stopping an activity before fatigue sets in, not after
Although it is important to try and stay as active as possible while recovering from Lyme disease, it is important to do so within a person’s own limits. For some people, pushing too hard may make fatigue worse. Keeping an activity diary may help a person identify their energy limits.
No specific diet is proven to help with PTLDS, but a 2022 study suggests that an anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce the symptoms. This is because chronic inflammation may be the mechanism, or one of the mechanisms, responsible for PTLDS.
Inflammatory foods to avoid include:
- foods high in added sugar, such as soft drinks, cakes, donuts, and candy
- processed carbohydrates, such as fries and potato chips
- processed meats, such as sausages and hot dogs
Anti-inflammatory foods to eat include:
- colorful fruits and vegetables, such as berries, carrots, tomatoes, and leafy greens
- other foods high in antioxidants, such as green tea or dark chocolate
- foods that contain healthy fats, such as avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds
- lean protein such as fish, chicken, and plant-based protein
There have been few studies testing the effect of supplements on PTLDS symptoms. However, there are some that can generally help to lower inflammation and regulate the immune system, which may have some benefits for people with this condition.
People may wish to try:
- Omega-3: People can boost their intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory, by taking fish or algae oil supplements.
- Vitamin D3: If a person with fatigue finds it challenging to get outside, they may develop vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps modulate the immune system and inflammation, so scientists speculate it may be of use to those with PTLDS.
- Turmeric or curcumin: Curcumin is a compound present in turmeric that is anti-inflammatory. It
may helpreduce symptoms or manage joint pain, which people with PTLDS can also experience.
It is important to note that, due to a lack of scientific evidence for PTLDS treatments, it is unknown if these supplements will have any effect. They may also not be suitable for everyone.
People should ask a doctor if it is safe for them to take these supplements beforehand.
Some people report that mind-body therapies help with their PTLDS symptoms. No studies have investigated this, but as these therapies tend to be low risk, some may want to try them.
Some examples of mind-body therapies that some people feel a benefit from include:
- yoga or tai chi, which combines gentle exercise with mindfulness
- cognitive behavioral therapy, which may help people cope with the mental effects of managing a chronic illness
- biofeedback, which teaches a person to consciously control body functions that are typically unconscious, such as muscle tension or heart rate
If a person is having issues with symptoms after having Lyme disease, they should reach out to a knowledgeable doctor if they can. They may be able to offer tailored advice for the person’s situation and test to rule out any other conditions that may be worsening symptoms.
Lyme disease organizations can also offer support, including finding a Lyme specialist and managing finances if a person cannot work. These include:
There are no proven cures for PTLDS. However, treatment may make the symptoms easier to manage.
In the absence of a cure, some people may find it tempting to try unproven treatments. These therapies may not be effective or safe, and in some cases, they may be harmful.
People should be cautious of online sources that make claims without evidence or anyone who alleges they have a cure for PTLDS — especially if they are selling a product or service.
A person should always discuss any new diet, supplement, or alternative therapy with a doctor before trying it.
Fatigue from Lyme disease can be challenging to live with. However, people with PTLDS often improve with time. No treatment is proven to speed this process up.
An anti-inflammatory diet, anti-inflammatory supplements, and getting adequate nutrition may help some people with their symptoms. Getting enough sleep and managing energy levels may also help reduce fatigue or help a person manage daily activities.
Overall, however, more research is necessary to find effective treatments and help people recover from PTLDS.