Lyme Disease - Symptoms and Treatment
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease, a bacterial infection (bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi), is caused by an infected tick. The number of cases in the United States each year is 329,000 people. This disease is sometimes difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are similar to the flu and other diseases. Lab tests do not always give a clear result until you have been infected with Lyme disease for several weeks.
Ticks can bite anywhere on your body. The areas that are often bitten are the hard-to-see areas: the scalp, groin or in the armpits. Ticks are extremely small and not easy to see. Therefore, people often do not know they have been bitten.
Red Flags Associated with Tick Bites
Lyme Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of this disease include:
- Red rash (this may look like a bull’s eye)
- Body aches
- Stiff neck
The red rash is often the first sign of Lyme disease, and it occurs approximately 8 days after being bitten. If you notice a tick bite and have any flu-like symptoms you should see your doctor. Lyme disease is diagnosed by finding antibodies in the blood and the cerebrospinal fluid.
The CDC recommends a two-step testing process for Lyme disease, but one blood draw is adequate, although it is only accurate approximately 65% of the time. If the first test is negative, no further test is recommended. If the test is positive, then the second test is done. If the second test is positive that result means the patient has been affected with Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Cycle
Lyme disease is usually cured with antibiotics. The recovery will be better if your treatment begins quickly. The antibiotics prescribed are doxycycline, cefuroxime axetil and amoxicillin is taken from 10 to 21 days. This is the treatment for adults and children. There is no Lyme disease vaccine at this time.
Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) may occur for some patients. You may have muscle or joint pain, plus nervous system symptoms after completing the typical antibiotic course for Lyme disease. Antibodies can remain in the blood for months and sometimes years. Difficulty thinking is another complaint that may last for up to six months.
Untreated Lyme disease can spread to the heart, the joints and the nervous system. Severe headaches, neck aches, facial palsy, palpitations, arthritis and severe joint pain.
It is possible to develop inflammation of the membranes that surround your brain, and that may cause Bell’s Palsy (one side of your face will be temporarily paralyised). You may also have weakness and numbness in your extremities and impaired muscle movement.
U.S. Areas of Tick Infestation
Preventing Lyme Disease
There is a proper way to remove a tick.
- “Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.”
There are several ways to prevent Lyme disease and they include:
- Use insect repellent that had 20% or a higher concentration of DEET
- Remove any tick quickly
- Apply pesticides
- Avoid areas where deer ticks live
- Mow grass regularly and remove leaves and brush from your yard
Being on the golf course is another way to be at risk for a tick. Pets that go outdoors can easily acquire a tick, so they need to be checked, particularly in hot weather.
Lyme disease is not believed to be transmitted with sexual contact or through breast milk. During pregnancy if you are bitten it is important to get immediate treatment as this bacteria can infect the placenta and possibly cause stillbirth.
Lone star ticks that live in the southeast do not transmit Lyme disease but they can carry other diseases.
What Does Lyme Disease Do to the Body?
This vector-borne disease has grown in numbers over the past several years. It is important to check your children and pets carefully for tick bites when they are playing out in the woods or any place where ticks may be a problem. Early treatment is important to shorten the length of this illness.
Lyme Disease Experience
Have you or anyone in your family had Lyme disease?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Pamela Oglesby