The standard antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease is a three week course of doxycyline.
It aims to slow down or kill bacteria by inhibiting its protein production, and can induce a number of side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and an increased risk of sunburn.
If you are prescribed with doxycycline, there are a few simple things you can do to help manage any side effects you might feel – and to may sure that the antibiotic is working as effectively as possible.
If you feel nauseous
The drugs can be quite harsh on the stomach, and might make you feel sick, or give you a dodgy tummy.
This feeling normally passes within a few days, as your body adjusts. But if it’s very bad, or doesn’t subside, then taking a little food with the pills should help (you’re normally advised to take it on an empty stomach).
Also try not to lay down within half an hour of taking your pill.
Avoid foods rich in calcium
Doxycycline can bind with calcium in your stomach, meaning that less of the antibiotic is absorbed by your body, and this can reduce effectiveness of the drug.
Try to avoid eating or drinking anything with calcium in it around the time that you take your pills, e.g. cheese, milk, yoghurt, bearing in mind that nut milks are often fortified with extra calcium.
You can still enjoy all of these things whilst on doxycycline, just try to consume them at least two hours before or after taking the antibiotic.
Cover up when you’re outside
Doxycycline makes your skin more photosensitive, which means you’re more likely to burn in the sun, and quickly.
If you’re heading outside, make sure you cover up, or wear factor 50 sun lotion, especially at the peak of summer. Even when it’s cloudy or not particularly warm, you can still burn!
You might feel worse before you feel better
Doctors should warn patients that a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction may occur.
This is caused when large numbers of bacteria are dying in the body and it will make symptoms worse during treatment. Patients should contact their doctor if this happens and they are worried, but should usually keep taking the antibiotics.
Take a probiotic
Doxycycline can be harsh on the gut, stripping it of the good bacteria which help to keep you healthy.
To protect your gut, take a good probiotic which will help to replace the good bacteria that the antibiotic strips you of.
If you’re not sure which one to take, visit your local health and wellness store and they should be able to help.
Take it at a different time to your antibiotic.
Drink lots of water
Stay hydrated and help to flush out toxins by drinking lots of water during treatment.
For information on what dosages you should be on, visit our treatment page.