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In this blog, you will learn:
- What the signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease are
- How Lyme Disease is diagnosed
- Why it is important to get a correct diagnosis so that treatment can be targeted and effective
Do your clients suffer from fatigue, headaches or muscle or joint pain? Do they have Lyme Disease and do you know how to treat it? Then this blog on Lyme Disease is for you. Please read on for the details!
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** Please note: If you want the short summary version of this article, then please click here **
What is Lyme Disease ?
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia is a bacterium that is transmitted by an infected black-legged tick. It is most commonly spread by a tick bite. The disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first identified in 1975 in the US.
A Reasonable Approach To Post
If you are being treated for PTLD, there is no magic bullet to treat this problem, but here are some important steps to consider:
- Choose a doctor you trust and who can work closely with you.
- If your doctor agrees to start antibiotics for several months, make sure you talk about the risks and cost, as this can be dangerous and expensive.
- Make sure not to rely solely on antibiotics. The evidence for a benefit from antibiotics is weak, and we rely mostly on physicians clinical experience and interest in the disease to design a personalized therapeutic plan. For some, a more holistic approach may be the way to go.
- If you try supplements, ask about their source and purity, as they are not FDA-regulated.
- Consider looking for services in medical school hospitals or clinics where they may have programs with ongoing research on how to diagnose and treat Lyme.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Since Lyme disease can take different forms, and since its often confused with other conditions, its important to be proactive if you suspect the condition. What signs prompt medical help? Call the healthcare provider if:
- You have a bullseye rashor any kind of rashfollowing a tick bite.
- You experience flu-like symptoms after a tick bite.
- You experience symptoms of more advanced Lyme disease: arthritis, heart palpitations, facial paralysis, dizziness, and others.
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Can Lyme Disease Flare Up Again After Years
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Causes Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The bacteria are present in the blood of many different animals including mice, deer, pheasants and blackbirds.
If a tick bites an animal that has the bacteria, the tick can also become infected. The tick can then transfer the bacteria to a human by biting them and feeding on their blood.
Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin. However, there is a higher risk you will become infected if the tick remains attached to your skin for more than 24 hours.
Once infected, the bacteria moves slowly through your skin into your blood and lymphatic system. The lymphatic system helps fight infection and is made up of a series of vessels and glands .
Left untreated, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can damage the joints and the nervous system, leading to later symptoms of Lyme disease.
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Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
If stage 1 Lyme disease remains undiagnosed and untreated, it can progress to stage 2, or early disseminated, Lyme disease. This stage occurs 312 weeks after the initial tick bite.
The term disseminated indicates that the bacteria have spread throughout the body. At this stage, the infection may affect the following tissues:
- the skin
- nervous system
A person who has progressed to stage 2 Lyme disease may develop new symptoms alongside those from stage 1. These new symptoms may include:
- new rashes across the body
- conjunctivitis or vision problems
- poor memory and concentration
What Is The Healing Process Of A Spider Bite
Healing can take anywhere from a week up to eight weeks. Scarring. In some cases, depending on the severity of the spider bite, scarring may remain once the actual bite itself has healed. In some more severe cases where surgery was necessary, scarring may also be a result from treatment of the bite.
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How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed And Treated
Lyme disease is usually diagnosed when a person develops a bull’s-eye rash, flu-like symptoms , or both. These symptoms usually start a few days or weeks after the person is bitten by an infected tick.
A two-step blood test can verify the presence of Lyme disease antibodies, although it does take a few weeks for those antibodies to develop. And despite what some physicians and advocacy groups claim, a blood test is the only way Lyme disease can be confirmed, Larry Zemel, MD, head of rheumatology at Connecticut Childrens Medical Center, tells Health. Some doctors say they can diagnose Lyme even when patients test negative repeatedly, but that has not been borne out by any scientific study, he says.
When people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in its early stages, a 10- to 20-day course of oral antibioticsusually with a drug called doxycyclinewill clear the infection and help them feel better fairly quickly. This cures the vast majority of people, and they have a 100% recovery with no lasting effects, says Dr. Zemel.
If Lyme disease isnt diagnosed right away, it can cause more serious symptoms like arthritis and memory problems. These people may need a full month of oral antibiotics, says Dr. Zemel. About 20% of these patients will need IV antibiotics , and they may also need other medications to treat symptoms like pain and muscle stiffness.
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Less Common Signs And Symptoms
Some patients experience no early signs or symptoms of Lyme disease. Others dont notice any rashes until they start developing later signs and symptoms. In rare cases, some people who contract Lyme disease never show any sign of having had the disease.
If youve been bitten by a tick and have symptoms
- Muscle soreness
- Fluid buildup under the skin
- Skin rashes
Antibiotics treat early Lyme disease effectively. If left alone, however, the infection will progress into late-stage Lyme disease. Left untreated, late-stage Lyme disease can lead to serious complications including arthritis, heart damage and neurological disorders.
To prevent progression to later stages of Lyme disease, antibiotics must be taken promptly when you first notice any sign or symptom of the disease.
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Some Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms
As mentioned, chronic Lyme disease consists of a broad cluster of physical, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. Some of these symptoms are much more common, while others almost never occur, but can be deadly. But even the less severe symptoms, such as chronic fatigue and pain, can lead to drastic changes in quality of life for chronic Lyme patients.
Chronic Lyme survivors have reported experiencing the following symptoms for months to years after infection:
- Intermittent fevers, chills, and sweats
- Chronic inflammation
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs
- Dizziness and shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Multiple-chemical sensitivities
Chronic Lyme disease can be linked to deadly symptoms, such as Lyme carditis .
According to Lymedisease.org, studies consistently show that chronic Lyme disease patients have poorer quality of life than those with other chronic diseases. One of their own studies showed that 75% of surveyed patients reported at least one symptom as severe or very severe.
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The disease can be debilitating if not diagnosed early on. The first sign of a Lyme disease infection is usually a bullseye-shaped skin rash. Early signs and symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, depression, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. The rash occurs in approximately 75% of infected people. Approximately 20 to 30% of people develop joint pains or neurological problems.
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How Do I Remove A Tick
You should know how to remove a tick just in case one lands on you or a friend. To be safe, remove the tick as soon as possible.
If you find a tick:
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to your skin.
- Pull firmly and steadily on the tick until it lets go of the skin. If part of the tick stays in your skin, don’t worry. It will eventually come out. But call your doctor if you notice any irritation in the area or symptoms of Lyme disease.
- Swab the bite site with alcohol.
Note: Don’t use petroleum jelly or a lit match to kill a tick. They won’t get the tick off your skin quickly enough, and may just cause it to burrow deeper into your skin.
The Numbers On Chronic Lyme
Because Lyme disease is commonly missed or misdiagnosed, statistics vary on how many Lyme patients go on to experience chronic symptoms. The following research nonetheless paints a basic picture of the problem.
- An estimated 5-20% of patients may have chronic symptoms after getting Lyme disease, according to the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
- The treatment failure rate for chronic Lyme disease patients was estimated at 26-50% in 2004, compared to 16-39% for early Lyme patients, according to Lymedisease.org.
- Up to 15-40% of late-stage Lyme patients develop neurological disorders, which are responsible for many common symptoms of chronic Lyme disease.
Experts dont know for sure why some people experience persistent symptoms, even with treatment. However, some believe the Lyme infection may trigger an auto-immune response that manifests in the chronic symptoms detailed below.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can affect different body systems, such as the nervous system, joints, skin, and heart. The symptoms of Lyme disease are often described as happening in three stages. Not everyone with Lyme has all of these, though:
The rash sometimes has a bulls-eye appearance, with a central red spot surrounded by clear skin that is ringed by an expanding red rash. It also can appear as an growing ring of solid redness. Its usually flat and painless, but sometimes can be warm to the touch, itchy, scaly, burning, or prickling. The rash may look and feel very different from one person to the next. It can be harder to see on people with darker skin tones, where it can look like a bruise. It gets bigger for a few days to weeks, then goes away on its own. A person also may have flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle aches.
Where Is Lyme Disease Prevalent
LD is spreading slowly along and inland from the upper east coast, as well as in the upper midwest. The mode of spread is not entirely clear and is probably due to a number of factors such as bird migration, mobility of deer and other large mammals, and infected ticks dropping off of pets as people travel around the country. It is also prevalent in northern California and Oregon coast, but there is little evidence of spread.
In order to assess LD risk you should know whether infected deer ticks are active in your area or in places you may visit. The population density and percentage of infected ticks that may transmit LD vary markedly from one region of the country to another. There is even great variation from county to county within a state and from area to area within a county. For example, less than 5% of adult ticks south of Maryland are infected with B. burgdorferi, while up to 50% are infected in hyperendemic areas of the northeast. The tick infection rate in Pacific coastal states is between 2% and 4%.
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Lyme Disease Frequently Asked Questions
If you have not done so already, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers.
The chances that you might get Lyme disease from a single tick bite depend on the type of tick, where you acquired it, and how long it was attached to you. Many types of ticks bite people in the U.S., but only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Furthermore, only blacklegged ticks in the highly endemic areas of the northeastern and north central U.S. are commonly infected. Finally, blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease. This is why its so important to remove them promptly and to check your body daily for ticks if you live in an endemic area.
If you develop illness within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your health care provider right away. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, fever, body aches, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Ticks can also transmit other diseases, so its important to be alert for any illness that follows a tick bite.
Moody KD, Barthold SW, 1991. Relative infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lewis rats by various routes of inoculation.external iconAm J Trop Med Hyg 44: 135-9.
There are no reports of Lyme disease being spread to infants through breast milk. If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease and are also breastfeeding, make sure that your doctor knows this so that he or she can prescribe an antibiotic thats safe for use when breastfeeding.
Symptoms Of Early Stage Lyme Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , early-stage Lyme disease symptoms crop up within 3 to 30 days after exposure and can include but are not limited to:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Erythema migrans , a bulls-eye-shaped rash that appears at the site of the tick bite
Early Lyme disease does not always appear the same in all patients. For example, up to 30% of patients dont remember experiencing a bulls eye rash.
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Early Detection Is Key
Lyme disease is easiest to treat at the early or acute stage, within the first 30 days of exposure. This is why its so important to take precautions to prevent tick bites, both during and outside of tick season. Protect yourself when near potential tick habitats, always perform tick checks after outdoor activity , and dont delay seeking medical attention if you notice any symptoms that might be related to tick-borne illness. Its important to get tested as soon as possible for the best chances of recovery.
Selection Of Study Subjects
From 1976 through 1983, 582 subjects with facial palsy, erythema migrans, or Lyme arthritis were entered into the initial studies of Lyme disease at Yale . All these patients were evaluated by one of us . Details of the patients’ clinical pictures were recorded, and serum samples were frozen at 70°C for any subsequent determinations. Of 582 subjects, 126 had moved from the area, were lost to follow-up, or had died. In 1994, in an effort to obtain as many patients as possible who had had facial palsy for the current study, all 44 patients who had this manifestation and still lived in the area were contacted, and 31 agreed to participate. Of the 412 patients who had erythema migrans or Lyme arthritis without neuroborreliosis, a random sample was selected by random number table to obtain similar numbers in each of the patient groups. Of the 52 patients in the erythema migrans group who were contacted, 26 agreed to participate and 26 declined. Of the 56 patients in the Lyme arthritis group who were contacted, 30 agreed and 26 declined.
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