The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded several studies on the treatment of Lyme disease. These studies have shown that most patients can be cured with a few weeks of antibiotics taken by mouth. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. Patients with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment with drugs such as ceftriaxone or penicillin.
Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stages of the infection usually recover rapidly and completely. A few patients, particularly those diagnosed with later stages of disease, may have persistent or recurrent symptoms. The authors of studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health have concluded that these patients may benefit from a second 4-week course of therapy and that longer courses of antibiotic treatment are not beneficial. Longer courses of antibiotics have been linked to serious complications, including death.
Studies of women infected during pregnancy have found that there are no negative effects on the fetus if the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment for her Lyme disease. In general, treatment for pregnant women is similar to that for non-pregnant persons, although certain antibiotics are not used because they may affect the fetus. If in doubt, discuss treatment options with your health care provider.