This article can give you a general idea about each of the medicines listed below. Only the most general side effects are listed. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use medicine as recommended by your doctor. If you have questions about use or side effects, contact your doctor.

Two main medicines used for Lyme disease include:

Antibiotics

Common names include:

  • Doxycycline
  • Amoxicillin
  • Cefuroxime
  • Ceftriaxone

Antibiotics are given in all stages of Lyme disease. Their aim is to kill the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. A repeat course of antibiotic therapy may be needed if Lyme disease infection recurs. Some people may continue to develop symptoms and complications of the disease even after treatment. Common antibiotics used are:

  • Doxycycline
  • Amoxicillin
  • Cefuroxime and ceftriaxone

Some problems may be:

  • Belly pain or discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic reaction, including skin rash, swelling, and problems breathing
  • Hypersensitivity to sunlight (most common with doxycycline)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Common names are:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

NSAIDs are pain relievers. They may be used to manage pain from arthritis due to Lyme disease. The dose depends on the amount of pain. For severe pain, NSAIDs are available in higher doses by prescription. They should be taken with food and a full glass of water.

Some problems may be:

  • Increased bleeding after surgery
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Flu-like feeling
  • Asthma or chest tightness

Special Considerations

When taking medicine:

  • Take your medicine as advised. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Be aware of the side effects of your medicine. Tell your doctor if you have any.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be harmful when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one. This includes over the counter products and supplements.
  • Plan for refills.
REFERENCES:

Lantos PM, Rumbaugh J, et al. Clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), American Academy of Neurology (AAN), and American College of Rheumatology (ACR): 2020 Guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of Lyme disease. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2021;73(1):1-9.

Lyme disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/lyme-disease. Accessed November 15, 2021.

Lyme disease treatment. Lyme Disease website. Available at: https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/treatment. Accessed November 15, 2021.

Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/treatment/index.html. Accessed November 15, 2021.

Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD  Last Updated: 11/15/2021