Lyme Disease | Treatments

What are the treatment options for Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is most often treated with antibiotics, such as doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime. If your child has been diagnosed early, he or she will probably take antibiotics by mouth for two to three weeks. Longer courses are prescribed for children who were diagnosed later or who — for whatever reason — don't respond to the first course of treatment (often because the full dose has not been taken).

Please keep in mind, it's important that your child has been prescribed antibiotics for Lyme disease and crucial that he or she finishes the full course, even if your child is feeling better and the rash is gone. The full dosage ensures that the infection has been treated properly.

If your child doesn't respond to oral antibiotics, or if the Lyme disease is affecting the central nervous system, the doctor may arrange for antibiotics intravenously (through an IV). Most often, these children aren't hospitalized — in many cases, it can be arranged for a nurse to come to your home to administer the IV or else teach you or another family member how to do it. Doctors very rarely prescribe a course of antibiotics that lasts longer than 30 days. 

What's the long-term outlook for a child with Lyme disease?

If Lyme disease is caught and treated early, the prognosis is excellent. Most children will make a full recovery. If the infection has spread throughout the body, it may cause more serious issues, such as problems with the nervous system or heart. 

Many children with Lyme disease go on to experience what's called “post-infectious syndrome.” This is a condition that occurs after many bacterial and viral infections, including mononucleosis and hepatitis A.

Since post-infectious disease syndrome is not itself caused by an infectious agent (it follows an infection caused by an infectious agent), doctors generally don't prescribe antibiotics. Most often, different treatment modalities are used, which may include:

  • keeping to a set sleep schedule
  • exercise
  • acupuncture
  • biofeedback
  • physical therapy
  • anti-inflammatory drugs to help with aches and pains

Each child is different, but it's not uncommon for symptoms of post-infectious syndrome to linger for months, or even years, and they can be made worse by stress or other illness. But most children do make a full recovery.