Bella Hadid has shared a new update on her years-long battle with Lyme disease, opening up about ongoing health struggles.
The 26-year-old model, who was first diagnosed with the illness around 2013, has opened up throughout the years of Lyme disease treatments.
On Aug. 6, she penned a lengthy Instagram post about “not giving up” as she continuously works to improve her health.
“The little me that suffered would be so proud of grown me for not giving up on myself,” she wrote.
She expressed her gratitude for mom Yolanda Hadid, who was diagnosed with the disease around 2012, for keeping track of her medical records and providing support during her difficult health journey.
“Living in this state, worsening with time and work while trying to make myself, my family and the people who support me, proud, had taken a toll on me in ways I can’t really explain,” the model continued. “To be that sad and sick with the most blessings/privilege/opportunity/love around me was quite possibly the most confusing thing ever.”
However, she said she wanted her fans to know that she is OK and they do not need to be concerned about her.
She said going through treatment has shaped who she is today.
Bella Hadid added, “I wouldn’t change anything for the world. If I had to go through all of this again, to get here, to this exact moment I’m in right now, with all of you, finally healthy, I would do it all again. It made me who I am today.”
She told all her fans who are facing health struggles to remember that their situation will improve.
“I have so much gratitude for and perspective on life , this 100+ days of Lyme, chronic disease , co infection treatment, almost 15 years of invisible suffering, was all worth it if I’m able to, God willing, have a lifetime of spreading love from a full cup, and being able to truly be myself, For the first time ever,” Bella Hadid wrote.
In her post, she included photos of medical records dating back to 2013 that revealed some of her symptoms, like extreme exhaustion, muscle and joint aches and chest pain.
She also uploaded pictures of her with IV needles in her arms and multiple sensors connected to her body.
Bella Hadid described the images as “positive” in her caption because she said they most accurately represent the “most enlightening experience” of her life. She went on to thank her team, agents, doctors and nurses for their help.
“I’ll be back when I’m ready,” she promised fans, referring to her time away from the runway. “I miss you all so much. I love you all so much.”
Sister Gigi Hadid left a supportive message in the comments. “I love u I am so proud and happy 4 u !” she said.
In addition to Bella Hadid and her mom dealing with chronic Lyme disease, younger brother Anwar Hadid contracted the illness in 2013, too.
Here’s what to know about the condition and what members of the Hadid family have said about living with Lyme disease.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that typically occurs after being bitten by a tick carrying borrelia bacteria, according to Mayo Clinic. These ticks are typically found in grassy or wooded areas.
Tick bites are similar to mosquito bites and form tiny, itchy bumps on the skin.
The disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In June 2022, BMJ Global Health conducted a study on the disease and determined that possibly 14% of the world’s population could have been infected, as the rates of Lyme disease have been increasing over the past 20 years.
Dr. Peter Krause, a senior research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health, told NBC News he was not shocked by the percentage.
“This is not like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s so much more disease than we thought there was,’” he explained after the study was published. “These numbers are a bit higher than I would have thought, but this isn’t a revolutionary finding.”
The CDC estimates that it receives about 30,000 reported cases of Lyme disease each year. Since this number does not include every case, the actual number of people who develop Lyme disease could be as high as 476,000, the CDC said.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
An infected person can develop multiple symptoms that typically arrive in three different stages, Mayo Clinic reports.
Stage One could start between three and 30 days after a tick bite. A rash that looks like a target or bull’s-eye could form following the infection, as well as a fever, headache, extreme tiredness, joint stiffness, muscle aches and pains and swollen lymph nodes.
If an infected person is not treated, the symptoms could increase to Stages Two and Three, leading to numbness, irregular heartbeats and nerve pain.
Who in the Hadid family has Lyme disease?
Bella Hadid, Anwar Hadid, 24 and Yolanda Hadid, 59, have all contracted the tick-borne illness.
Yolanda Hadid repeatedly spoke about living with Lyme disease when she was a cast member on “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” At the time, she also wrote blog posts for Bravo about the illness.
In January 2015, she said, “Most of you know I have been battling Lyme disease for the past three years. I wasted the first year trying to get diagnosed and spent the next two trying to find a cure. I have gone from the conventional long-term antibiotics to about every holistic protocol there is to offer.”
A year later, she revealed in another blog post that Bella Hadid and Anwar Hadid were diagnosed in 2013 and “have been in extensive holistic treatment ever since.”
“It’s very common for multiple family members to be affected by Lyme disease. The children and I lived on a horse ranch in Santa Barbara for 10 years and spent the majority of our time outside in nature,” the reality television star wrote at the time.
She said her youngest daughter “struggles with symptoms of chronic Lyme every day” and that her son “still does regular Ozone/UVI treatments and has had great success with (low dose immunotherapy).”
What has the Hadid family said about the illness?
In February 2021, Bella Hadid shared photos on Instagram of her receiving treatment.
“Living with a few chronic auto immune disorders =always finding time for my IVs,” she wrote in the caption.
Sister Gigi Hadid, 28, explained her sister’s recent health-related absence from the fashion world on her Instagram story Aug. 2, according to People.
“Just wanna touch on this post from last week,” she said. (The older Hadid sister was referring to a throwback photo she had previously shared with her younger sister and the caption, “Can’t wait 4 the comebaccckkkkkk.”)
Gigi Hadid continued, “Bella just finished a long and intense treatment for Lyme disease. Didn’t want some to take my post as a promise she’ll be back for shows this next season…).”
She concluded, “I’m so proud of her and excited for her comeback whenever she feels ready x.”
The supermodel also spoke to Elle in 2019 about watching multiple family members fight the disease.
“My mom couldn’t drive or get out of bed some days, so I took my brother to school with me, or I made lunch,” she recalled. “But I also felt a lot of guilt for being the one person in the family who didn’t understand what they were going through. It’s hard when your whole family is in pain and you don’t know what to do.”
Is there treatment or a cure for Lyme disease?
Currently, the disease is treated with antibiotics, the CDC says.
In August 2022, a Lyme disease vaccine entered late-stage clinical trials, indicating that a vaccine could be approved in the coming years.
Speaking about the potential vaccine, Dr. John Torres, NBC News senior medical correspondent, said on TODAY at the time that after the initial shots, people may need an annual dose of the vaccine.
“So it’s a bit more complicated than most vaccines, but certainly will protect against something that can be fairly dangerous,” he said.
A press release from August 2022 about Phase Three of the vaccine’s clinical study said that if the trial is successful then Pfizer and French biotech company Valneva could apply for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to roll out the vaccines as early as 2025.