Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
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Lyme disease is an underreported, under-researched, and often debilitating disease transmitted by spirochete bacteria. The spiral-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, are transmitted by blacklegged deer ticks. Lymes wide range of symptoms mimic those of many other ailments, making it difficult to diagnose .
The blacklegged ticks can also transmit other disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are known as coinfections . These ticks that transmit Lyme are increasing their geographical spread. As of 2016, they were found in about half the counties in 43 of 50 states in the United States .
Lyme is the fifth most reported of notifiable diseases in the United States, with an estimated 329,000 new cases found annually . Some studies estimate that there are as many as 1 million cases of Lyme in the United States every year .
Most people with Lyme who are treated right away with three weeks of antibiotics have a good prognosis.
But if youre not treated for weeks, months, or even years after infection, Lyme becomes more difficult to treat. Within days of the bite, the bacteria can move to your central nervous system, muscles and joints, eyes, and heart .
Here is a list of 13 common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
What Are Signs And Symptoms Of The Third Stage Of Lyme Disease
Late stage Lyme disease can result when treatment is unsuccessful or started too late due to unrecognized symptoms or misdiagnosis. The late disseminated stage occurs months or years after initial infection and can have a major impact on a patients health and quality of life. Late Lyme arthritis is a third stage Lyme disease manifestation that involves fluid accumulation and pain in joints, particularly in the knee joints. Late neurologic disease is a 3rd stage condition that can also be debilitating and difficult to diagnose. Late disseminated Lyme disease symptoms include a variety of symptoms that are often neurologic in origin including: numbness in extremities, mental fogginess and concentration problems, and difficulty following conversations or processing information.
Reducing The Number Of Ticks
Other methods help reduce the number of ticks in your immediate environment.
Regularly maintain your property and buildings to limit the number of rodents, which often carry the bacterium and cause immature ticks to become infected.
Manage the vegetation around the periphery of your home and in play areas. Keep your grass cut, and clear away any leaf litter that accumulates on the ground.
Installing a fence to keep white-tailed deer at a distance is recommended. Adult blacklegged ticks prefer these deer, as they provide an appropriate environment for ticks to mature and reproduce.
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How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will consider:
- How likely it is that you were exposed to infected blacklegged ticks
- The possibility that other illnesses may cause similar symptoms
- Results of any lab tests
Most Lyme disease tests check for antibodies made by the body in response to infection. These antibodies can take several weeks to develop. If you are tested right away, it may not show that you have Lyme disease, even if you have it. So you may need to have another test later.
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Determining The Source Of Your Symptoms
Again, its important to note that symptoms of tick-borne diseases in humans can vary greatly from person to person and can change over time if diseases are not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.
The presence of any one of the symptoms above does not alone guarantee that you have a tick-borne disease, but if you do experience them alongside any other potential symptoms, its important to talk to a trusted doctor and get tested immediately.
IGeneX is proud to offer highly accurate, highly sensitive diagnostic testing for all major tick-borne diseases in the U.S., including Lyme disease, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Bartonellosis, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis. Learn more about IGeneX testing today.
The Influence Of Under Our Skin
A couple of years ago, my husband and I stumbled upon the documentary film Under Our Skin, about the silent Lyme epidemic in this country. Not only did this film confirm my fears that I could be suffering from an ongoing tick-borne illness, it also showed how the medical community has largely abandoned people suffering with chronic Lyme symptoms.
Few physicians consider chronic Lyme a valid diagnosis and those who do may use antibiotic treatment that can go on for years. Most physicians are quick to call it something else fibromyalgia, polymyalgia, chronic pain syndrome or even depression. And its true that Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses vary in symptoms and can easily masquerade as something else. That is what makes it so difficult to diagnose.
In the spring of 2017, I consulted a naturopathic doctor to see what other options were available. She stated that a tincture of a special type of Cats Claw known as Una de Gato had shown promise in treating Lyme spirochetes. She gave me hope. However, I had to get off the Prednisone before any treatment could begin and would very likely feel a lot worse before I felt any better. In the meantime she started me on high-potency vitamins and minerals to help boost my immune system.
Nancy Marie Allen lives in Massachusetts.
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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
To prevent Lyme disease, you should lower your risk of getting a tick bite:
- Avoid areas where ticks live, such as grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. If you are hiking, walk in the center of the trail to avoid brush and grass.
- Use an insect repellent with DEET
- Treat your clothing and gear with a repellant containing 0.5% permethrin
- Wear light-colored protective clothing, so you can easily see any ticks that get on you
- Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants. Also tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks.
- Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks. Carefully remove any ticks you find.
- Take a shower and wash and dry your clothes at high temperatures after being outdoors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What Do I Do If I Find A Tick On My Skin
Dont panic. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skins surface as possible. Pull up with steady, even pressure. Be careful not to squeeze or twist the tick body. Sometimes parts of the tick remain in the skin. You can leave them alone or carefully remove them the same way you would a splinter. Do not use heat , petroleum jelly, or other methods to try to make the tick back out on its own. These methods are not effective.
Wash the area where the tick was attached thoroughly with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area for a few weeks and note any changes. Call your doctor if you develop a fever or other symptoms of TBRF. Be sure to tell your doctor that you were bitten by a tick and when it happened.
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Do Opossums Get Lyme Disease
Opossums are often considered pests, but they play an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, they can also carry diseases, including lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted by ticks. When an infected tick bites an animal or human, the bacterium enters the bloodstream and can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, headaches, and fatigue. Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose, and if left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications.
There is no evidence that opossums can transmit lyme disease to humans, but they can certainly carry the disease. If you find an opossum on your property, its important to take precautions to avoid being bitten by a tick. You should also check your pets for ticks after theyve been in areas where opossums are present.
Lyme Disease And Fatigue
byJennifer Crystalon January 21, 2022
The severity of fatigue that comes with Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses can be difficult to describe because Lyme disease fatigue is a whole different story
When I was sick with COVID-19 in 2020, I continued working despite my mild fatigue, shortness of breath, low-grade fever, loss of taste and smell, and persistent cough. Though these symptoms were no walk in the park, they werent completely debilitating. For some COVID-19 patients, symptoms have rendered them bedridden, hospitalized, or worse. I was lucky not only to survive early COVID-19, but to have a moderate case.
For me, the fatigue of COVID-19 was nothing compared to the fatigue of Lyme disease. Lyme disease fatigue has become the barometer by which I measure all other fatigue, whether its general tiredness or illness-related. The severity of fatigue that comes with Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses can be difficult to describe, because fatigue can be defined many ways. It can mean muscle soreness after a workout, burnout after a long week, or yawns that come when you just didnt sleep well. Fatigue can also mean general malaise from the pandemic, or sleepiness from any number of stressors. Then theres feeling like your head is spinning after staying up all night finishing an assignment or tending to a crying baby.
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What’s The Best Way To Prevent A Tick Bite
Ticks can’t fly or jump. But they live in shrubs and bushes and can grab onto you when you pass by. To avoid getting bitten:
- Wear pants and socks in areas with lots of trees and when you touch fallen leaves.
- Wear a tick repellent on your skin and clothing that has DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus.
- For even more protection, use the chemical permethrin on clothing and camping gear.
- Shower within 2 hours after coming inside. Look for ticks on your skin, and wash ticks out of your hair.
- Put your clothing and any exposed gear into a hot dryer to kill whatever pests might be on them.
How do you know if you’ve been bitten?
Since ticks are so small, you’ve got to have pretty good eyes to see them.
If you have a small, red bump on your skin that looks like a mosquito bite, it could be a tick bite. If it goes away in a few days, itâs not a problem. Remember, a tick bite doesnât necessarily mean you have Lyme disease.
If you notice a rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye, you might have a tick bite. Talk to your doctor about treatment.
If you have an allergic reaction to ticks, you’ll notice a bite right away.
Vision Auditory And Other Sensory Symptoms
In addition to aches and pains, many tick-borne diseases can cause vision and auditory issues such as those listed below:
- Light sensitivity has been linked to Bartonellosis .
- Retinal inflammation, which can cause blurred or distorted vision, has also been linked to Bartonellosis.
- Red eyes, clinically referred to as conjunctival injection, can be a sign of Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis , both of which can be hard to detect because of the variation in symptoms across patients.
- Sound sensitivity can be associated with Bartonellosis.
- Ringing in the ears can be a symptom of Babesiosis.
- Burning sensation on the skin and numb skin patches can both be signs of Bartonellosis.
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How Is Lyme Disease Treated
With early-stage Lyme disease, youÃ¢ll take antibiotics for about 10 days to 3 weeks. The most common ones are amoxicillin, cefuroxime, and doxycycline. The antibiotics will almost always cure your infection. If they donÃ¢t, you might get other antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot.
If you donÃ¢t treat your Lyme infection, you might need oral antibiotics for symptoms like weakened face muscles and irregular heartbeat. You may need antibiotics if you have meningitis, inflammation in your brain and spinal cord, or more severe heart problems.
If your Lyme is late stage, the doctor might give you antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot. If it causes arthritis, youÃ¢ll get arthritis treatment.
ThereÃ¢s no therapy for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
What Are The Stages Of Lyme Infection
There are three stages:
- Early localized Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye or is round and red and at least 2 inches long
- Early disseminated Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms and legs, changes in your vision, heart palpitations and chest pain, a rash , and a type of facial paralysis known as Bellâs palsy
- Late disseminated Lyme: This can happen weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. Symptoms might include arthritis, severe fatigue and headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and confusion.
About 10% of people treated for Lyme infection donât shake the disease. They may go on to have three core symptoms: joint or muscle pain, fatigue, and short-term memory loss or confusion. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. It can be hard to diagnose because it has the same symptoms as other diseases. Plus, there isn’t a blood test to confirm it.
Experts arenât sure why Lyme symptoms donât always go away. One theory is that your body keeps fighting the infection even after the bacteria are gone, like an autoimmune disorder.
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Other Canine Diseases Carried By Ticks
Ticks can also carry several other less common but serious bacterial diseases affecting dogs, including anaplasmosis and babesiosis.
Anaplasmosis can involve symptoms similar to those for Lyme disease. Babesiosis can present with a wide range of symptoms, from sudden and severe shock, high fever, and dark urine to a slowly progressing infection with more subtle clinical signs. Diagnosis of both diseases includes blood tests similar to those used to check for Lyme disease.
Sometimes, dogs and people can become sick with co-infection of multiple tick-borne diseases, where more than one type of disease-causing bacteria is transmitted through a tick bite. This situation can make diagnosis and treatment even more challenging and difficult.
What Are The Later Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can cause a sharp increase in pain and a lot of swelling in the joints, says Joseph Ciotola, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. It can also make you feel extra tired.
In early disseminated Lyme disease, which occurs weeks to months after the tick bite, other symptoms may develop, including:
- Additional erythema migrans lesions
- Facial or Bells palsy, a paralysis or weakness in the muscles on one side of the face
- Lyme carditis, in which Lyme disease bacteria enter the tissues of the heart and interfere with the normal process that coordinates the beating of the heart symptoms include palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
Late disseminated Lyme disease, which develops months to years after the infection begins, may cause:
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, especially in large joints such as the knees
- Pain in the tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Abnormal muscle movement
- Numbness and tingling in the hands or feet
- Cognitive problems, including issues with speech and short-term memory
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness from meningitis
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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
People with Lyme disease may react to it differently, and the symptoms can vary in severity.
Although Lyme disease is commonly divided into three stages early localized, early disseminated, and late disseminated symptoms can overlap. Some people will also present in a later stage of disease without having symptoms of earlier disease.
These are some of the more common symptoms of Lyme disease:
- a flat, circular rash that looks like a red oval or bulls-eye anywhere on your body
- other flu-like symptoms
These symptoms may occur soon after the infection, or months or years later.
Your child may have Lyme disease and not have the bulls-eye rash. According to an early study, results showed roughly 89 percent of children had a rash.
Lyme disease is best treated in the early stages. Treatment for early localized disease is a simple 10- to 14-day course of oral antibiotics to eliminate the infection.
Medications used to treat Lyme disease include:
- doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime, which are first-line treatments in adults and children
- cefuroxime and amoxicillin, which are used to treat women who are nursing or breastfeeding
Intravenous antibiotics are used for some forms of Lyme disease, including those with cardiac or central nervous system involvement.
After improvement and to finish the course of treatment, healthcare providers will typically switch to an oral regimen. The complete course of treatment usually takes 1428 days.
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Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, it may become late-stage or chronic. This may also occur when early treatment is inadequate. While some symptoms of chronic or late stage Lyme disease are similar to those of early Lyme, as the graphic below shows, there are important differences.
Lyme disease may spread to any part of the body and affect any body system. Typically, it affects more than one body system. In our survey, which drew over 5,000 responses, patients with chronic Lyme disease reported an average of three severe or very severe symptoms, with 74% reporting at least one symptom as severe or very severe.
An extensive list of symptoms of chronic Lyme disease was developed by Dr. Joseph Burrascano, a pioneer in treating chronic Lyme disease.
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