Everything you need to know about Lyme Disease

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Lyme disease is an infectious vector-borne disease caused by bacteria that is transmitted through infected ticks and, sometimes, a particular genospecies of mice. However, it’s worth noting that not all ticks are infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi parasite.

If the patients don’t get any Lyme disease treatment, it can develop into late manifestations, resulting in a weakened heart, nervous system, and joints.

Awareness

Lyme disease’s peak incidences occur in June and sometimes in September, thanks to an increase in tick activity during early summer and autumn months. During this time, a lot of people are involved in outdoor activities like visiting the parks, and this puts them at a higher risk of infection.

This disease has been reported to affect different populations across the globe but occurs more commonly in Europe, Asia, Canada, and the United States. However, since the disease is not as prevalent in some regions as it is in others, there’s very little awareness about it.

Incidences of the disease are steadily increasing. For this reason, more people need to be enlightened about recognizing the signs and symptoms as well as how they can protect themselves. There are places like Livv Natural, where they could also seek specialty testing and treatment if they have the disease.

The risk factors

All people, regardless of their age and gender, are prone to Lyme disease.

The highest cases, however, are reported in people between the ages of 45 and 65 years. Also, people who take part in particular outdoor activities like horse riding and off-road cycling are at a higher risk of infection.

The stages of Lyme disease

The disease goes through three main stages. Each stage has specific symptoms, and these vary depending on how long you’ve had the infection and how far the infection has spread.

Stage One

This stage lasts for about a month after exposure to the parasites. You may start noticing the symptoms just a few days after you’ve been infected. The early symptoms include:

  1. A circular red rash at the site of the bite
  2. Flu-like symptoms which include:
  • Fever and chills
  • Feeling weak (fatigued)
  • Headaches and a stiff neck
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat and dry cough

Lyme rashes could have a bruise-like appearance and mimic a spider bite or ringworm. The rash is clinically referred to as erythema migrans, or sometimes the Bull’s Eye Rash. Only about half of the reported cases experience this rash, which may have an irregular shape and expands to several inches across. The rash could clear on its own or fade and reappear later if the person has not yet sought treatment. 

It’s possible for infected people to miss all these symptoms and so the disease progresses into the next stage. Lyme disease may be treated more cost-effectively at this stage, so if you notice a rash, it’s advisable that you consult a doctor.

Stage Two

This stage manifests from the first month to the fourth and happens when the disease is not found and treated early. During this time, the disease spreads through the bloodstream to organs around the body, including the skin, nervous system, and joints. The main symptoms include:

  1. Tremors
  2. Seizures
  3. Paralysis 
  4. Numbness in the arms or legs
  5. Bell’s Palsy (facial paralysis)
  6. Fainting that continues to happen
  7. Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
  8. Pain and swelling around joints such as knees
  9. Poor memory and reduced concentration span
  10. More, and expanding rashes around the body
  11. Eye pain, blurred vision, and conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  12. Occasional rapid heartbeats and in some cases, serious heart problems

When the patient seeks treatment on time, the disease does not progress into the last stage.

Stage Three

If Lyme disease isn’t treated effectively or on time, it progresses into a chronic stage. The stage could take months or even years, and it leaves your brain, joints, and nerves damaged. This stage is complex and very expensive to treat. The symptoms include:

  1. Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  2. Lack of energy and always feeling very tired
  3. Inability to control muscles of the face
  4. Problems with speaking, memory, mood, and sleep
  5. Heart problems such as inflammation
  6. Arthritis that causes recurring episodes of swelling, redness, and buildup of fluids especially in the knee

Diagnosis

Lyme disease may be diagnosed without laboratory testing by looking at the rash. The rash is not painful, hot, or itchy and so it’s easily distinguished from other common skin conditions. However, the rash presentation isn’t enough. 

For a more definitive diagnosis, a test has to be carried out because the rash may not be present, and the other symptoms could point to a range of other diseases.

Treatment

Lyme disease is treated using antibiotics that are prescribed according to the advancement of the disease, as well as the symptoms that manifest.

If the patient has already completed the first two completed courses of antibiotics, but the symptoms do not go away, he/she may be prescribed an alternative antibiotic. In this case, it’s highly advisable that the patient only deals with a specialist. This way, you’ll be sure to get the right antibiotic range depending on your age and condition. For example, pregnant women need a treatment plan that is appropriate for pregnancy.

Prevention

People can avoid being bitten by wearing clothes that cover their exposed skin, especially when they’re visiting high-risk areas. Appropriate clothes include trousers and long-sleeved shirts.

It also helps to use skin repellent and to follow defined paths when you’re in the greater outdoors. When you’re going back indoors, you should check yourself and the kids for ticks, especially after possible exposure.

If you notice a tick attached to your skin, remove it as soon as possible to minimize the risk of infection. Here’s how you remove the tick correctly:

Dos 

To remove all the tick’s head and body properly:

  • Use an appropriate tick removal tool, e.g. the hook and the loop
  • Use a fine thread if other tools are unavailable
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after removal

Don’ts

  • Avoid squeezing the tick’s body
  • Don’t use your fingernails to remove the tick. An infection could occur through a break in the skin
  • Don’t burn the tick; apply petroleum jelly or other chemicals. This could make the tick uncomfortable and cause it to release saliva into your body.