Published by BBC NEWS - 1st February 2022

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Athletic Steven Williams spent £25,000 on tests and treatments before being diagnosed with Lyme disease.

The 36-year-old, of Maesteg, Bridgend county, was in good health when he was struck down with anxiety and left bed-ridden and shaking for 18 hours a day.

Lyme Disease UK called for more research into the best protocol for treatment.

The Welsh government said guidance on the illness had been issued.

Football-loving Mr Williams said his battle to get a diagnosis for Lyme disease, which can be difficult to identify, had “totally devastated” his life.

His symptoms started in March last year.

“Over the course of one week, everything changed,” he said.

“I suddenly started having very extreme anxiety. It really came on suddenly and really, really floored me. Yeah, it was quite a horrific time.”

It went on for months.

Steven Williams

“I’d wake up shaking at maybe two or three in the morning,” Mr Williams said.

“I’d be unable to get out of bed for most of the day.

“It’s put a huge strain on my personal life and my relationships. There was a lot of pain and a lot of fear, it was terrifying.”

Mr Williams went to his GP, but wanted to speed up diagnosis. So he went private.

“I was checked for tumours in the adrenal glands and tumours in the brain,” he said.

“I was back and forth to London for tests there. I was also referred on for ketamine therapy for treatment resistant depression and anxiety, which, unfortunately, didn’t help and made things worse.”

Steven's medications and supplements that he takes daily

Image source, Steven Williams

After spending £25,000 on scans, consultations and treatments he was diagnosed with Lyme disease in November.

There are around 900 cases of Lyme disease reported in the UK each year, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

It is estimated the actual number could be two or three times that.

Lyme Disease UK’s Julia Knight said Lyme disease can affect the joints, the heart and the nervous system if it was not diagnosed and treated quickly.

“The patient is producing so many different symptoms that everybody is totally baffled,” she said.

“They’re bounced around between neurologists, rheumatologists, orthopaedics, sometimes psychologists, and nobody ever gets to the bottom of what this person has actually been infected with.”

Steven Williams

Image source, Steven Williams

Mr Williams’ symptoms are ongoing.

He has been told he has late-stage Lyme disease and is trying to raise a further £35,000 for treatment in Germany.

According to the NHS, a few people who are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease continue to have symptoms that can last for years.

Ms Knight said: “We need far more research into what is the appropriate protocol for treating Lyme disease.”

The Welsh government said NICE guidance on Lyme disease had been issued to make healthcare professionals and patients aware of the symptoms.

Julia Knight - Lyme Disease UK

Image source, Lyme Disease UK

“People with Lyme disease may experience a very wide range of symptoms and will be directed to the right investigation, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation to meet their specific needs,” a spokesman said.

“These services include multi-professional treatment, self-help and advice, online tools to support recovery, investigations, rehabilitation and specialist consultations as required.”

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What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks.

A circular or oval shape rash around a tick bite can be an early symptom of Lyme disease in some people. The rash can appear up to three months after being bitten by an infected tick, but usually appears within one to four weeks.

Tick

Image source, Getty Images

Some people also get flu-like symptoms a few days or weeks after they were bitten by an infected tick.

Treatment for Lyme disease is a course of antibiotics, most people recover after treatment.

Source: NHS

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