Alyssa Explains It All: Herxheimer Edition

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Hello everyone!! Most of you know that I created a Facebook page (Pray for Victoria) in support of my sweet friend and fellow Lyme-fighter, Victoria. She recently had a serious surgery to correct an issue with her heart the Lyme had caused. Lately, Victoria has mentioned that the antibiotics she’s taking to help get rid of a chest infection are causing her to herx. I knew there were probably a lot of friends and family of Victoria and ALSO of mine out there who don’t know what “herxing” entails, so since I also battle severe Late Stage Lyme Disease, I thought I would take some time to explain it for you!

A Herxheimer Reaction occurs when someone with Lyme Disease is taking a medication like an antibiotic, a natural antibiotic, or doing any treatment that acts as a protocol that can kill Lyme bacteria. When Lyme bacteria dies, it releases a large amount of intense and dangerous toxins that cause the body to respond drastically. The body is flooded with toxins much faster than it is able to detox and expel the toxins from the body. Many people with Late Stage Lyme Disease also have an inability to detox much in the first place so herx reactions are even more severe and longer-lasting for them (I’m one of those people and Victoria probably is, also!) Most people experience a drastic increase in severity of ALL of their Lyme symptoms and may even experience new symptoms. A Herx can look similar in many ways to what a cancer patient experiences as a result of Chemotherapy.

A herx for me typically includes – severe migraines, body aches and severe joint swelling and pain, nausea/vomiting, light and sound sensitivity, fever (both traditional fever with chills but also hot fevers where I cannot cool myself down), hot and cold sweats, tremors, muscle aches, burning and spasms, severe sore throat or throat infection, flare of my costochondritis involving rib pain, swelling and inflammation and ribs out of place, Raynauds flare (where my sensitivity in my hands/fingers to heat but especially to cold causes discoloration of my fingers and intense pain), more severe POTS (my resting heart rate increases and when I stand my heart rate skyrockets, blood pressure drops, and my body kicks into hyperventilation; my legs will also break out in a splotchy circulatory rash and itch and burn unless I sit down; If I stand too long- more than a few minutes- I will pass out), floaters in my vision and intense eye pain, severe GERD or Acid Reflux, worsened stomach symptoms including intestinal pain and spasms, slower digestion (and absorption of food, nutrients and even medications taken orally) constipation, diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain and spasms, increased pain and symptom flare from interstitial cystitis (the autoimmune condition involving the inflammation and bleeding of the bladder walls), increased sensitivity to chemicals, allergens, fragrances, severe Mast Cell Activation (when the mast cells in my body are over-produced and over-active causing rare systemic allergic reaction which reveals itself in episodes very similar to seizures), not to mention LESS ENERGY and MORE PAIN OVERALL! When I Herx I cannot leave my house and can barely sit up or walk around.

Those are just some of the symptoms I (Alyssa) experience when I have a herx reaction. Victoria shares a lot of these symptoms with me, but there are many that I experience that she and other Lyme-fighters may not experience and many that others experience that I don’t. A Herx reaction can last a few days or a few weeks or even a few months.

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Little things can cause a Herx reaction. For example, I am unable to stand in the shower and I cannot wash my hair in the shower anymore either. Partly because of my fainting issue (POTS), and my low energy level, but also largely due to the fact that the heat and steam from even a warm shower elevates my body temperature just enough for me to experience some Lyme bacteria die-off and cause a small Herx reaction! Even a hot day or a warm shower may cause a Herx.

It’s natural to think, “Well, if some of the bacteria are dying off, isn’t that a good thing??” The truth is yes, it’s a good thing when we can kill off some of the bacteria; HOWEVER, if we experience a severe Herx that means there are too many toxins being released too quickly so that the body cannot keep up. If that person is able to detox well or even partially well, their body will be able to pull the toxins out eventually and remove them from the body. Yay! BUT if that person cannot detox the toxins from the body it could cause them to be sicker in general long term. Battling Lyme Disease is a very tricky thing! It’s hard to be excited about killing the bacteria when you know what will come next and have to worry whether or not your body can handle it!

Sometimes our bodies are not in a good position to handle the overflow of toxins, but we have no choice but to take an antibiotic because of another infection or issue. That’s the situation my friend Victoria is in right now! Her body is not in a good place to be able to process the toxins from Lyme die-off because she is still weak and her body is expending its resources on healing from surgery, but the infection in her chest is dangerous and must be treated with antibiotics (that antibiotic is capable of killing Lyme, not all of them are), and thus, she is feeling absolutely awful.

SO, please please please keep praying hard for my friend, Victoria!

-Pray that her body can detox and process the toxins being released by the Lyme bacteria die-off.

-Pray that the antibiotic takes care of the infection in her chest that is causing so much pain and coughing.

-Pray that this Herx reaction does not last long.

-Pray that Victoria is able to continue to heal and to get some much-needed rest!

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Also, if I may be so bold as to ask, please continue to pray for me.

-Pray for my poor aching body as I recover from hosting Sean’s sweet youth group for a Christmas party at our house last night. (I enjoyed it SO MUCH!)

-Pray that I do well as I travel next weekend to visit family for the holidays.

-Pray that I continue to heal from my own surgery back in September and that God guides us to big things on the horizon.

Thank you all SO MUCH for your encouragement and prayers for Victoria AND FOR ME!! It means so much! We pray for and thank God for each and every one of you.

– Alyssa

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