You have strange and inexplicable symptoms, a positive Lyme disease test, and your doctor has clinically diagnosed you with Lyme disease. You have Lyme disease, right? Possibly, but you may also be dealing with coinfections.
But who cares about coinfections? They're weak, inferior, and not really worth the time and energy to pursue an active treatment protocol against - this couldn't be a more foolish thought.
Just because your co-worker is called a "co-worker" doesn't mean they're inferior, weak, and not worth your energy and time, right? Of course not! The same perspective needs to be applied to the outdated connotation of the word "coinfection(s)".
The prefix "co" is Latin for "together" or "with". It doesn't mean weak, inferior, or any less deadly or debilitating.
To put it into a clearer perspective, a person who has HIV may also have Hepatitis B. In this case, Hepatitis B. is a coinfection of HIV but calling it a coinfection doesn't make it any less serious. One could also say HIV is a coinfection of Hepatitis B. So it's not that any single infection is by nature a "coinfection", it's the relation of that infection we're referring to when discussing the dominant infection, and many times, it's not Lyme.
If the term was "sub-infection" meaning "below" or "instead of", then you'd have every reason to think a "coinfection" isn't worth your time, or at least less of it. To clear up the confusion and make known the equal significance of a "coinfection" in relation to Lyme disease, they should rename the term "coinfection" to "equi-infection", meaning that's its at least "equal" to Lyme's wrath. Or maybe just use "infection" -- that always seemed to get the message across nicely without the need for an prefixes.
If people ignore their potential coinfection(s) and only treat their Lyme disease, they run the risk of never really getting better. Especially when roughly 85% of the time, Lyme disease isn't even the dominant pathogen! You may be treating symptoms that you believe to be caused by Lyme disease, but in reality they may be caused by Bartonella or Babesia, two very common coinfections. This happens more often than not because many symptoms of Lyme disease overlap, or are the same as the symptoms produced by many of its coinfections.
And it's true, they don't feel completely healed because they're not completely healed. They, or their treating physician, assumed all of their symptoms to be directly caused by Lyme, and as a result, still possess debilitating symptoms months or years later. They haven't treated a potential Bartonella infection, or even worse, a potential infection combination of Bartonella, Mycoplasma, and Babesia.
A 2014 New York study has shown that 1 in 3 ticks found, have Lyme disease, and that 1 in 3 of those ticks are carrying something else - another infection - a coinfection. In other words, there is a 10% chance that if you were bit by a deer tick with Lyme disease, that it had another infection as well.
So remember, a coinfection is still an infection. In fact, that's reason enough to take it seriously because not only do you potentially have Lyme, but you potentially have Lyme plus another infection (i.e., a coinfection). Sounds like it should be taken a little more seriously, eh?
Though "Lyme and a coinfection" doesn't sound as threatening or serious as "Lyme and another infection", don't be foolish and regard these two statements as having different meanings because they don't. They both mean the same thing because they are the same thing.
Take your potential coinfections just as seriously as you would Lyme disease. A coinfection is another infection that could be just as serious as -- or worse than -- Lyme. Lyme disease itself is a confection in relation to a Babesia infection and vice versa.
It's also important to remember that having a “coinfection” status doesn't necessarily suggest the level of dominance within the body. In relation to Lyme disease, a Babesia infection would be a coinfection, but Babesia may be the dominant pathogen.
The tests used for diagnosing coinfections are inaccurate much like the tests used for diagnosing Lyme disease, so don't completely throw out the possibility of having a coinfection(s). A good Lyme literate doctor will use your test results, in conjunction with symptoms that are unique to certain infections that accompany Lyme (i.e., coinfection), to help identify the infections you may have and justify a treatment protocol for them.
"BetterHealthGuy.com - A Site Dedicated to Lyme Disease - BioResource 2011 Conference." BetterHealthGuy.com - A Site Dedicated to Lyme Disease - BioResource 2011 Conference. Better Health Guy, 2011. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
Goodman, Brenda. "One Tick Bite Can Equal Two Infections." Health News / Tips & Trends / Celebrity Health. HealthDay Reporter, 3 July 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
About the author
Chris is the Editor-in-chief for Public Health Alert. Through his own personal plight with chronic Lyme disease, Chris has written hundreds of articles on the intricate and ineffable nature of chronic Lyme disease's impact on the human experience.