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Learn about tick-borne illness, how it can become chronic, the challenges with traditional treatment options, and how patients can begin healing.

Babesia: Considerations, Signs, and Symptoms

by Wayne Anderson, ND

Disclaimer: Given the fact that Borrelia and the co-infections all have the same mechanisms of action there is significant symptom overlap. These symptom pictures are meant to be used as templates that will vary given the individual patient’s comorbidities, strengths and weaknesses.

About Babesia

Babesia is a tick-borne parasite that infects the red blood cells. There are over 100 species of Babesia that have been identified to date, but B. microti is the most common strain.

Considerations

When a patient’s symptoms are predominately head and neck, you must think of Babesia. When the patient has depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), with sweats that are worse at night, think Babesia. If the patient has severe memory and cognitive dysfunction with the same sweats as above, Babesia must be considered.

For the patient (with any of the above) that also has temperature intolerance, layering clothing at night due to chill then throws off the bed covers due to overheating, Babesia cannot be ignored. If this same patient has racing or irregular heart rate and it is worse at night you are getting even closer to confirming Babesia.

Air hunger can also accompany it. If the patient (with any of the above) describes their headache as weird, pressure, moving sensations, hot or cold, worse behind the eyes, crown, or in the occipital area, consider Babesia. It causes severe insomnia that is resistant to treatment.

Common Symptoms of Chronic Babesia

Babesia moves very slowly in its chronic form. Can take years to develop a clear chronic symptom pattern.
  • Affects the brain and head; any atypical or exaggerated symptom related to the head must be considered.
  • Can cause headache, occipital and/or frontal (especially behind the eyes), or the sensation of pressure without pain.
  • Most predominant symptoms are related to cognitive and memory processing.
  • Can cause severe mental health symptoms and could manifest as any diagnosis in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders – Volume Four (DSM-IV).
    Sweating can remain a symptom in the chronic form, and can be drenching, especially at night.
  • Little body pain except the wrist/hands and/or ankles/feet
  • Can have severe temperature instability, hot to cold, with the predominance to chill.
  • Patients can have heart racing (autonomically mediated), usually short runs of tachycardia or premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), often at night, with a normal cardiac evaluation.
  • Can have other autonomic nervous system disruptions causing shortness of breath (SoB), and orthostatic hypotension.
    Symptoms can be aggravated when present with other comorbidities, mental illness, etc.
  • Symptoms can be aggravated by other functional metabolic disorders, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and especially menopause and andropause.
  • Temperature intolerance, hot and cold with chill dominant.
  • Can have occasional fever, but usually can’t get warm.
  • Sweats, can be drenching, worse at night.
  • Mild fluid imbalance, overloaded or dehydrated.
  • Appetite swings, can’t get enough to eat, or no appetite.

Mental and/or emotional symptoms include:

  • Disabling problems with short-term memory and concentration.
  • Progressively disabling memory.
  • Difficulty with direction.
  • Gets lost in familiar places.
  • Difficulty with simple linear thinking.
  • Severe depression (can have suicidal ideation).
  • Fear! Fear! Fear! OCD, anxiety to panic.
  • Any symptom from the DSM -IV.
  • Pressure sensation (more than headache), occipital, crown, and behind eyes.
  • Various sensations in the head, hot spots, numbness, crawling, crown tenderness.
  • Hypothalamic dysregulation.
  • Severe sleep disturbance, delayed sleep onset and frequent waking, with difficulty falling back to sleep.
  • Weird dreams to nightmares.
All rights reserved. For information or permission contact Wayne Anderson, N.D.