Horrible Head Pressure and Weird Head Sensations: test for Babesia

Horrible head pressure and weird head sensations are some of the symptoms of the Lyme disease co-infection Babesiosis which is caused by the Babesia parasite. Babesia is a malaria-like parasite, also called a “piroplasm,” that infects red blood cells. 

Your family asks you if you have a headache but it isn’t.  It is not pain in the typical sense as others have experienced such as a migraine or cluster headache.  The weird head sensations are almost impossible to describe to others and it affects your ability to sleep and function. 

I went through this for 3 months and it disrupts your life at every level.  I am writing this article for the many of you out there who are going through this and have no idea why. You suffer and are scared! What is happening to me? Am I going crazy?

I also want you to know that if you treat your Babesia infection properly, your brain function and the horrible brain sensations will improve if not completely go away. I know because mine are gone. It does demand that you to be vigilant in treating this infection properly. I have both Borrelia and Babesia infections. The majority of most people do have more than one tick disease co-infection.

Babesia and Borrelia are the two main tick co-infections that can infect the brain and this is important to know. Each tick co-infection needs a different test and treatment protocol.

Horrible head pain and weird head sensations can be caused by the Babesia parasite.
Learn how you can get back your life after treating this parasitic infection.

Researchers who research Lyme Disease and its co-infections have found these bacteria and parasites in the brain after autopsy. This means that these two co-infections among others can cause dementia and land you in a nursing home.  They destroy brain tissue. 

Experiencing deteriorating memory issues?

When your brain function is being attacked but its really undiagnosed Lyme Disease in the form a babesia parasite.
Babesia can cause horrible head pressure and weird head sensations.

If you have a loved one who is going downhill with dementia symptoms, take them to a Lyme specialist and have them tested for tick co-infections.  You may just save their mental health by doing so.  Doctors who treat dementia and Alzheimer’s do not test for tick co-infections.

The drugs used for dementia and other memory disorders will not be responsive to those treatments, because they are not getting to the main cause which is tick disease.  There is evidence from autopsies to back up that tick diseases can be the base cause of deteriorating mental health symptoms.

What other symptoms might you have with Babesia infections which is caused by a parasite?

Common symptoms include fevers, night and day sweats, head pressure, weird head sensations, tooth, sinus, jaw infections, stiff crackly neck, neck stiffness, sore throat, emotional instability, photophobia, dark urine, sleep disturbances, air hunger, temperature regulation problems, altered mental status, motor deficits, ataxia, and failure to respond to antibiotics.  Babesia gives you a lot of head and neck symptoms.  Babesia headaches are different than Bartonella headaches in that Bartonella headaches are more described as ice-pick headaches with severe pain. Babesia headaches are more in the front of your head.

Babesia symptoms include many head and neck symptoms.
Babesia caused by a protozoa parasite is responsible for various head symptoms including head pressure and weird head sensations.


I got treated with antibiotics but I still feel sick and many of my symptoms remain. Why?

There are so many people in these Chronic Lyme groups, who have been treated with antibiotics, and rounds of antibiotics, who still have symptoms and are suffering. I am part of two Lyme groups where people after extensive antibiotic treatment, are still sick, still experiencing debilitating symptoms that affect their lives, their ability to work, and their ability to parent, and some are contemplating suicide because of the symptoms.  Doctors don’t listen and family often fail to understand how sick you feel because Lyme disease and its co-infection symptoms are hidden in your head, your muscles, and unseen places. Your disease is invisible to others. We look fine but we are seriously sick and it hides causing us at times to wish we were dead. 

Babesiosis is one of the common co-infections of Lyme disease. More often than not, it is not usually tested for by a regular doctor or even an infectious disease doctor. It is caused by the Babesia protozoa.

“In fact, it may be present in up to 40% of Lyme patients, according to a report in Trends in Parasitology.”  Understanding Babesia: Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment | RawlsMD

“But the results of a 2014 patient survey of more than 3,000 participants indicated that 32% of the respondents had been diagnosed with Babesia, which places it second only to Borrelia. “ Understanding Babesia: Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment | RawlsMD

A Babesia infection termed babesiosis cannot be diagnosed without special tick testing that is not paid for by most insurance companies. If you test positive for Borrelia they don’t go further. They may give you rounds of Doxi or a combination of drugs for weeks or months. You may feel better but not completely. Most patients have more than one tick infection. Often patients may have one to four co-infections at the same time. These co-infections respond to different protocols to get rid of them. Each co-infection takes different tests to diagnose. This is why so many patients don’t get completely well. They are not getting the proper diagnosis or treatment for all the co-infections that are causing them to be ill.

What causes babesiosis? How do you contract it? Babesia is caused by a parasite.

If you ask your doctor or look up babesiosis it will say that this co-infection is rare but this is only because it is not generally tested for by the majority of doctors, even Lyme specialists.  In my groups who get expensive testing for the different Lyme co-infections, babesiosis is often part of the patient’s sickness. If you talk to the real specialists called Lyme literate doctors whose specialty is Lyme Disease and its co-infections, Babesiosis is pretty common. 

You get babesiosis, most often by being bitten by a deer tick (the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), which often carries the Babesia parasites.

They are NOT a bacteria or spirochete, but a one-celled organism called a protozoa. Most antibiotics such as doxi do not work on protozoa infections. That is why so many people do not get completely well on doxycycline. 

“Several types of Babesia parasites cause babesiosis. Babesia are protozoa, one-celled organisms that are too small to see without a microscope. They get into your blood through a tick bite. There, they infect and destroy your red blood cells. In mild cases, this can make you tired. In severe cases, like if you have a compromised immune system, the infection can cause life-threatening complications.

B. microti is the most common cause of symptomatic babesiosis in the U.S. Other Babesia species that sometimes make you sick include B. duncani, B. divergens, B. venatorum and B. crassa.”  Babesiosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org) 


The problem with testing for Babesia

Most doctors call for Borrelia testing which is a more common and familiar co-infection problem seen by most standard medicine doctors. That is why it is generally missed. Testing for Babesia has to be performed with special tick testing only available at some labs. Igenix is the best lab for this and it isn’t cheap.  You need a doctor to order the test which often they won’t. You must go to a Lyme literate doctor or Lyme Disease specialist to get properly diagnosed.  The Babesia test in the US looks for the most common Babesia species which is B. duncani. 

Babesia has many cousins, some of which are mainly found in Europe and not in the U.S. If you go to Europe or countries outside the US, it is possible to be infected with Babesia strains other than the common ones found in the US.  The Babesia test may test negative because of that. If you live in a state where Babesia is not common, your doctor may refuse to order the test, even if you have symptoms.

Babesia tests available at Igenix and their information below on these tests: 

Babesia Diagnostic Tests |neXIGe

The testing information is taken directly from the IgeneX site.  You need a doctor to order the tests and most insurance carriers will not pay for that testing which may cost up to a couple of thousand. You should get a panel that tests for all the different co-infections because often patients have more than one tick co-infection present and positive. If you don’t know what co-infection or co-infections you have, you may not get the proper treatment and will still feel sick. These tick co-infections demand different treatment protocols.  I list this lab because it is one of the most effective labs in the fight against tick co-infections. Vibrant Labs is another one that is used frequently as well. When I visited their site, I did not find a test for Babesia. You should call them to see if they do have a test for Babesia that is not listed under their tick disease panel.

There may be others not listed in this article but Lab Core, one of the common ones used by drs offices is not the best lab for tick diseases other than when first bitten in the early stages. Chronic Lyme disease needs different testing which is only available with labs such as IgeneX. Borrelia is the test most often ordered when you first go to the doctor after being bitten with symptoms.

“Babesia is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. However, unlike other tick-borne diseases, it is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. This makes it similar to malaria. Babesia is the most common Lyme disease co-infection, and therefore testing is recommended if testing your patients for Lyme. The IGeneX Babesia ImmunoBlot tests for the Babesia genus and speciates to multiple species of Babesia that infect humans, including B. microti and B. duncani.

ImmunoBlotting is a form of IgM and IgG testing that uses multiple pure, recombinant proteins sprayed in precise amounts at specific positions on the test strips to dramatically increase accuracy. It has long been considered the gold standard in infectious disease testing for superior sensitivity and specificity. These tests effectively replace traditional tests such as ELISA and the western blot.

Until recently, diagnostic tests for Babesia have been grossly imprecise and have not been able to detect many of the ever-growing lists of species and strains. The IGeneX ImmunoBlots testing overcomes these obstacles with the ability to detect antibodies to multiple species of Babesia, including B. microti and B. duncani.


  • Uses specifically created recombinant proteins and not proteins from cultures
  • Unlike IFA, can detect multiple species in one test
  • Detects the full spectrum of disease: early, active and late-stage
  • Detects Babesia genus and speciates to B. microti and B. duncani
  • Avoids the error-prone process of visualizing slides through a microscope

Included Antigens
B. microti and B. duncani

TEST NUMBER: 900* Babesia IgM ImmunoBlot 905* Babesia IgG ImmunoBlot
CPT CODE: 87299, 86753, 86318, 87451 – 86753 x2, 86318, 87451

*Tests/Panels not available for NY Residents

Download datasheet >
View webinar >
View Babesia ImmunoBlot tests >

Babesia IFA

The Babesia Immunofluorescence Assay (IFA) is designed to detect human IgM and IgG antibodies to Babesia antigens in human serum. For diagnostic purposes, Babesia IFA test results should be used in conjunction with other information available to the diagnosing physician. Currently, IGeneX offers both B. microti and B. duncani IFA tests.

The Babesia IFA is a two-stage sandwich assay, which is based on an antigen-antibody-complex formation involving the following steps:

  • Binding of anti-Babesia specific antibodies in human serum to fixed Babesia on a slide.
  • Binding of fluorescent-labeled anti-human IgG/IgM antibodies specific to the human anti-Babesia antibodies bound to fixed Babesia on the slide.
  • Identifying green fluorescing Babesia parasites with a fluorescent microscope.

Reference Range

Babesia antibody titers IgM <20
Babesia antibody titers IgG <40

Clinical Significance
The Babesia IFA antibody test detects antibodies targeting Babesia in human serum. Babesia titers rise during the first two to four weeks of illness and then decline over the next six-to-12 months. An IgG titer of less than 160 may indicate a resolving infection in patients with previously high titers. If the IFA is negative but clinical symptoms are present, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) testing are suggested. Babesia is carried by the same species of ticks that cause Ehrlichiosis, Bartonellosis, and Lyme disease. Therefore, patients with positive titers should also be tested for other tick-borne diseases.

Stage of Disease
Any Stage of Disease (Early to Late/Chronic Stage)


  1. A single negative IFA test result does not exclude the possibility of Babesia
  2. Other Babesia antibodies may cross-react and yield a false positive Babesia IFA test.
  3. Results should be interpreted in conjunction with other laboratory and clinical findings.

Babesia IFA Results Interpretation >
View Babesia IFA tests >

Babesia FISH

Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridization (FISH) Assay Image of Babesia Bacteria

The Babesia Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridization (FISH) assay is designed for the qualitative detection of ribosomal RNA of Babesia parasites directly in a blood smear. The test’s high degree of specificity is provided by nucleic acid probes, which bind to RNA sequences of the Babesia. This test detects Babesia.

The FISH assay is based on two fundamental principles:

  • Hybridization directly on a thin blood smear with a fluorescein-labeled Babesia specific probe
  • Identification of Babesia parasites within the red blood cell by viewing with a fluorescent microscope

Reference Range

Babesia: Negative, Babesia specific rRNA not detected.

Clinical Significance
The FISH assay provides a significant increase in sensitivity and specificity over standard Giemsa-stained smears for the presence of intraerythrocytic parasites (piroplasts) in RBCs. The parasites exist as a ring and/or merozoite forms. A positive sample must show fluorescing rings in at least two RBCs. A negative sample must show no fluorescence within the RBCs.

Stage of Disease
Any Stage of Disease (Early to Late/Chronic Stage)


  1. A single negative FISH test result does not exclude the possibility of Babesia.
  2. Results should be interpreted in conjunction with other laboratory and clinical findings.

Special Instructions

  1. In special circumstances, blood smears may be accepted by IGeneX for testing in place of EDTA whole blood. Please contact our Lab Director for more information and authorization. Smears made improperly will not be accepted.
  2. For Medicare patients, download ABN forms here.

Babesia FISH Results Interpretation >
View Babesia FISH tests >

Babesia PCR Screen (B. microti and/or B. duncani)

The Babesia microti/duncani Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) screen is an assay that detects Babesia DNA in whole blood and speciates to B. microti and B. duncani. The combination of the following three steps imparts a very high specificity and sensitivity to the test:

  • Hybridization/Selection
  • Amplification of Babesia-specific DNA
  • Detection of Babesia-specific amplified DNA fragments

Reference Range

B. microti: Negative, B. microti specific DNA not detected
B. duncani: Negative, B. duncani specific DNA not detected

Clinical Significance
The Babesia microti/duncani PCR screen is an assay that detects Babesia specific DNA (B. microti and/or B. duncani). Babesia ribosomal DNA (rDNA) fragments are hybrid-selected by probes, followed by PCR amplification of selected Babesia rDNA. PCR products are confirmed with Babesia-specific probes in a southern blot assay. The primers and probes used for the selection of Babesia rDNA fragments are designed from published, small ribosomal RNA sequences.

Stage of Disease
Any Stage of Disease (Early to Late/Chronic Stage)


  1. Results should be interpreted in conjunction with other laboratory and clinical findings.
  2. Test results can only help the physician in confirming a clinical Babesia diagnosis.

Babesia PCR Screen Results Interpretation >
View Babesia PCR tests>

Babesia cePCR – New!

Culture testing is widely considered to be the “gold standard” for diagnosis of Babesia. For many years, Babesia cultures were too expensive and tedious to be practical for laboratory use. Until now. After many years of research and development, IGeneX is pleased to introduce cePCR (Culture-Enhanced PCR) for Babesia.

Download the cePCR datasheet >

In culturing, a clinical sample from the body (e.g. blood) is incubated in media.
During this incubation period, microorganisms in the sample grow and multiply. The sample is then tested by PCR to identify the pathogens.

Advantages of Culture-Enhanced PCR
• Provides higher sensitivity than standard PCR testing.
• The only 100% specific method for identification of Babesia.
• Obtaining cultures before antibiotic use improves the chances of identifying the offending microorganism, which improves patient care.

Stage of Disease
Any stage”

I hope this article helps readers understand that they need to be tested for Babesia by a Lyme Specialist and with the proper tests. I can’t stress the importance of correct testing by a specialized lab such as IGeneX.

I do not receive any compensation from this company or any other lab.  I add this testing information to help you find it on their site. It is rather difficult to navigate lab testing sites.

References: Please read these articles and references below

Understanding Babesia: Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment | RawlsMD

If You Think Lyme is Bad, Meet Babesia! – Suzy Cohen, RPh offers natural remedies to help you feel better now!  (recommended reading by all Lyme patients or if you think you have a tick co-infection.

Atypical Presentation of Babesiosis With Neurological Manifestations as Well as Hematological Manifestations – PMC (nih.gov)

babesia and head pressure – Search (bing.com)

Babesiosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)Th


View Babesia cePCR tests >”   Babesia Diagnostic Tests |

My next article will be about how Babesia infections or babesiosis is treated. In that article, I will focus on treatment with herbs and what antibiotics are effective on this tick co-infection so come back here this week to read that.