Our Lyme Disease Story

Complications from a Clean-Up Drug Called Coartem

At the end of pharmaceutical commercials, have you ever laughed at the long list of side effects? Often, the potential complications seem worse than the original problem. For an antimalarial drug named Coartem, the side effects mimic the diseases it aims to cure.

A Clean-Up Drug for Lyme and Babesiosis

By my fourth appointment with Dr. McIntyre, I was feeling pretty well, so she planned to take me off the meds. First, though, she wanted to complete my treatment with what she called a clean-up drug. 

Chronic Lyme disease memoir writer Jennifer Crystal
Jennifer Crystal

As Lyme sufferer Jennifer Crystal says, “Is Lyme disease ever really gone from your body? Relapsing is a constant reminder and reality that the bacteria are still lurking.”

Yet, according to Dr. McIntyre, patients who take Coartem don’t relapse as often or as quickly.

But first I needed to get an electrocardiagram (EKG) to check the health of my heart.  Seven to ten days after starting on the full dose of Coartem, I needed to get another EKG. Why? Apparently, this anti-parasite medicine can—in rare cases—cause a fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat. 

Get an electrocardiagram (EKG) before taking Coartem.
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

I didn’t discover the more common side effects until I confronted them.

Common Side Effects of Coartem

Image courtesy of indiamart.com.

After I started taking the Coartem, I battled another bevy of symptoms. Chills. Weakness. Nausea. Tiredness. Poor appetite. Low-grade fevers. 

My stomach churned. What was happening to me? Were my Lyme symptoms returning? 

I looked up Coartem’s side effects and discovered all these reactions were common. I breathed a sigh of relief. These were temporary side effects of the medicine, not permanent debilitating symptoms.

Unfortunately, while struggling with Coartem’s complications, I forgot about one of doxycycline’s. Click here to continue reading my story!

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