Comedian Amy Schumer announced she’s been diagnosed with Lyme disease. The stand-up star and actress revealed the news in an Instagram post Tuesday afternoon.
The post features a throwback photograph of Schumer, now 39, holding a fishing pole as a little girl. “My first fishing pole. Anyone get LYME this summer?” she asked. “I got it and I’m on doxycycline." She went on to say that she's possibly had the condition "for years," and asked her followers for any advice they might have on it or the medication she's taking. "Can you have a glass of wine or 2 on it? I know to stay out of the sun," she wrote.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Schumer's dosage of doxycycline—a strong antibiotic—is a treatment for localized or early Lyme disease. Adults are instructed to take 100 milligrams of the drug twice a day for 10-21 days.
Early Lyme disease can occur up to 30 days after exposure to a tick bite (blacklegged ticks transmit the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi to humans). The main symptoms that come with early Lyme disease include: fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. In 70-80% of cases, the CDC also reports that people will experience an erythema migrans (EM) rash—a rash that typically in a bulls-eye shape, feels warm to the touch, and gradually expands over the course of a few days.
In more severe cases—like when Lyme disease isn't immediately treated—later-stage Lyme disease can cause symptoms including neck stiffness and severe headaches, one side of the face being drooped, severe joint pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, nerve pain, spinal cord inflammation, brain inflammation, numbness, shooting pains, and a tingling sensation in the hands and feet.
It should be noted, however, that while the CDC says most cases of Lyme disease can be cleared up with a course of antibiotics (like doxycycline), patients can still have lasting symptoms, even after finishing treatment, like pain, fatigue, or memory fog—this is known as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS). Going further, the term chronic Lyme disease (CLD) is also commonly used by patient advocacy groups to refer to those who may have a type of persistent Lyme infection—which can cause symptoms like chronic pain, fatigue, and behavioral issues—with no relief from standard treatments. However, due to confusion surrounding CLD, the CDC and the National Institutes of Health don't support the use of the term.
Doctors can diagnose Lyme disease in patients by looking for any signs or symptoms of the disease, weighing the patient's risk factor (i.e., coming into contact with blacklegged ticks), and administering a two-factor testing process for the disease via blood sample. Ultimately, you need two positive or indeterminate Lyme disease tests for a positive diagnosis.
And regarding Schumer's treatment plan—her antibiotic doxycycline—she's right about staying out of the sun as much as possible: The medicine can make your skin especially sensitive to sunlight, according to the US National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus database. But according to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, you shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking doxycycline, nor should you mix the drug with certain common medications. The NHS recommends telling your doctor if you’re taking antacids, certain supplements, certain stomach ulcer medications, and other antibiotics before taking doxycycline. (To be safe, it’s probably best to discuss all medications you take regularly before filling your prescription.)
Luckily, Schumer wrote in her Instagram post that she isn’t feeling too bad at the moment. After asking her followers to get in touch if they have any tips for individuals taking doxycycline to treat Lyme disease, she signs off her caption saying, “I also want to say that I feel good and am excited to get rid of it.”
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