Key Points To Remember
- Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
- Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
- Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
- Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
- Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I found a tick embedded in my skin, but I cant get it out. What should I do?
- Ive been bitten by a tick. Do I need to be seen?
- Do I need a blood test to confirm Lyme disease?
- Which antibiotic is best for me?
- How long will I have to take the antibiotic?
- What tick or insect repellent should I use for me or my child?
- How long will the symptoms last?
- What should I do if I still dont feel well a long time after I was bitten?
What Happens At Your Appointment
The GP will ask about your symptoms and consider any rash or recent tick bites you know about.
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. It has similar symptoms to other conditions and there’s not always an obvious rash.
2 types of blood test are available to help confirm or rule out Lyme disease. But these tests are not always accurate in the early stages of the disease.
You may need to be retested if you still have Lyme disease symptoms after a negative result.
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How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. In most cases, people bitten by a tick are given antibiotics only if they are sick or have a rash. If you are bitten by a tick but dont get sick or get a rash, you dont need antibiotics.
Early-stage Lyme disease responds very well to treatment. In most cases, taking an antibiotic for 2 to 4 weeks kills the bacteria and clears up the infection. Your doctor will tell you how long to take the antibiotic. Its important to take all the medicine your doctor prescribes. This will prevent the spread of Lyme disease to your joints, nervous system, or heart. If you have problems with the medicine, do not quit taking it. Call your doctor and talk to him or her about your side effects.
Late-stage Lyme disease is also treated with antibiotics. It may be necessary to give the antibiotics intravenously at this stage. Medicine that reduces swelling and pain can ease arthritis associated with late-stage Lyme disease. If necessary, excess fluid can be drained from any affected joints.
What Are The Complications Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease affects people differently. Relapse and incomplete treatment responses happen. Relapse and incomplete treatment responses happen. Complications of untreated early-stage disease include:
Frequent hospitalizations to manage the disease
Some of these complications result in chronic, debilitating conditions.
Some people may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome . A condition also known as chronic Lyme disease includes PLDS, but also other syndromes. Usually, these are characterized by persistent musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve pain, fatigue, and memory impairment.
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How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
Doctors use a variety of methods to diagnose Lyme disease. Different approaches may be used depending on the stage of the disease. Early Lyme disease is easily diagnosed if a person has the characteristic red, bull’s-eye rash. The diagnosis is considered when a person has recently been in an area known to have ticks that harbor the bacteria. Sometimes the diagnosis is not as clear-cut. The doctor may perform a physical exam and order tests to exclude other potential problems with the heart, joints, and nervous system.
Antibody tests are available for Lyme disease, but they are not useful in the early stage. They are more helpful in the diagnosis of later stages. A test called the ELISA assay is used to detect Lyme disease antibodies. However, there’s a possibility of a false positive diagnosis because Lyme disease antibodies may be present in the body for years after the illness has resolved. The most reliable test available to confirm the diagnosis of Lyme disease is called the Western Blot assay.
Good Herx Vs Bad Herx
Dr. Horowitz describes the difference between a good herx and a bad herx. Basically, with a good herx, the patient will have a reduction of symptoms and begin to feel better after the flare. With a bad herx, the patient will return to their prior baseline after the flare with no reduction in symptoms overall.
The Herxheimer reaction is a normal part of treatment for late stage or chronic Lyme disease, but it is important to make it tolerable. A few methods one can utilize to reduce the flare are described below. In rare instances, a severe herx can be life threatening. I advise going to the nearest Emergency Room if you are experiencing extreme symptoms.
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Who Gets Lyme Disease
Anyone bitten by an infected deer tick can get Lyme disease. Most U.S. cases of Lyme disease happen in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. But Lyme disease is found in other parts of the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia too.
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is the leading tick-borne disease in the United States. It’s most common in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and the northern midwestern states.
Lyme disease is caused by a type of found in animals like mice and deer. Deer ticks that feed on these animals can then spread the bacteria to people through tick bites.
You probably won’t see it happening. Deer ticks are tiny, so it’s very hard to see them. Immature ticks are about the size of a poppy seed. Adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed.
It’s easy to overlook a tick bite. Many people who get Lyme disease don’t remember being bitten. The good news is that most tick bites don’t lead to Lyme disease. But it still helps to know what to watch for.
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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.
What Is The Prognosis For Early Stage Lyme Disease
The prognosis worsens, however, when diagnosis and treatment are delayed. Most patients with early Lyme disease infection recover with antibiotics and return to their normal state of health. However, some patients suffer from chronic symptoms related to Lyme disease despite standard of care antibiotic therapy.
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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.
How We Care For Lyme Disease
The Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s provides comprehensive care for children and adolescents with Lyme disease and other infections. Our services include consultation, evaluation, treatment, and management of long-term complications of Lyme disease.
The commitment and compassion with which we care for all children and families is matched only by the pioneering spirit of discovery and innovation that drives us to think differently, to find answers, and to build a better tomorrow for children everywhere.
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How Long Does It Take For Lyme Disease To Kill You
Lyme disease can become chronic, and people will need to get hospitalized at that stage. Under normal circumstances, if treated with antibiotics, the disease goes away in three to seven days. The antibiotics are essential to kill the harmful bacteria and stop it from multiplying to avoid future complications.
How To Remove A Tick
If you find a tick on your or your child’s skin:
- remove it by gently gripping it as close to the skin as possible
- use a pair of tweezers that won’t squash the tick , or use a tick removal tool
- pull steadily away from the skin without twisting or crushing the tick
- wash your skin with water and soap afterwards, and apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite
- don’t use a lit cigarette end, a match head or substances such as alcohol or petroleum jelly to force the tick out
Some veterinary surgeries and pet shops sell inexpensive tick removal devices. These may be useful if you often spend time in areas where there are ticks.
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Is There A Cure For Lyme Disease
Antibiotics can cure Lyme disease. Different stages of disease may be treated with different antibiotics. Treatment choices also depend on the areas of the body involved. Oral amoxicillin , cefuroxime axetil , and doxycycline are often used to treat the early stages of Lyme disease. A bull’s-eye skin rash after a tick bite is a reason to see the doctor urgently for treatment. The rash typically resolves in about 1 or 2 weeks with antibiotic treatment. Intravenous medications such as ceftriaxone may be necessary to treat later stages of Lyme disease.
Learn About Lyme Disease
Although Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of a tick, knowledge of any given tick bite is not helpful to predicting whether or not you may have Lyme disease: the majority of individuals that contract Lyme disease will not remember the tick bite. Also, only 2% of tick bites result in Lyme disease. Late spring and early summer are the highest risk season for Lyme disease, when the nymphal stage of the ticks emerge. Adults ticks are present year round and can be feeding any time when temperature exceed 40 degrees. Although both genders and all ages are susceptible, Lyme disease is most common among boys aged 5-19 and adults 30 or older.
If you think you may have Lyme disease, it is important to consult your health care provider
The prognosis for recovery is best when Lyme disease is diagnosed and treated in its earliest phase. But remember, treatment doesnt make you immune you can get Lyme again if another infected tick bites you.
What To Do After a Tick Bite
If you or a loved one is bitten, remove the tick promptly. Heres how:
Recognizing the Rash
Requesting and Receiving Care
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
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Diagnosis And Treatment For Lyme Disease Tick Bite Symptoms
As seen above the disease can take any course, so it is best to seek the guidance of a healthcare expert. You must provide him/her with exact details regarding how you might have been infected. You might also need to give your blood sample for lab analysis. The area where you live and the tick bite bullseye rash will be the greatest clues that can help your doctor determine exact diagnosis and course of action to take. There are a couple of FDA approved tests that can diagnose the condition accurately. People living in high risk areas can also talk to their healthcare provider regarding Lyme disease vaccinations.Though these arent fool proof, they can certainly prevent 80% of Tick bite Lyme disease bullseye rash and related symptoms.
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.
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What Is The History Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease came to light in 1975 when children living in the community of Lyme, Connecticut became afflicted with what was at first thought to be rheumatoid arthritis. The disease was named after the town where these children lived. Researchers eventually identified the bacteria that caused the illness in 1982.
What To Do After Removing An Attached Tick That Has Bitten You
In general, the CDC does not recomment taking antibiotics prophylactically after tick bites to prevent tickborne diseases. However, in certain circumstances, a single dose of doxycycline after a tick bite may lower your risk of Lyme disease. Consider talking to your healthcare provider if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common to discuss prophylaxic doxycycline and other options.
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Tick Bite Lyme Disease Symptoms: How Long Does The Lyme Disease Bullseye Rash Last
Lyme disease bullseye rash is seen in nearly 8 out of 10 people following a tick bite. However, most bites tend to go unnoticed since the ticks are very small. The ticks transmit an organism called Borrelia Burgdorferi which enters the hosts bloodstream. Following an incubation period of few days or weeks, a reddish target like mark starts to appear in the bitten region.
Lyme disease symptoms usually occur in phases:
- As stated above it starts off as a target shaped bullseye rash that grows and spreads. Typical period for this localized rash to appear is 3-30 days. Nearly 7 to 8 out of every 10 bitten individuals develop this rash.
- Some people get a tick bite swelling in the area which goes down within a day or two.
- The rash itself might disappear within a short time: a couple of days or weeks but other symptoms might appear.
- Fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches are common. However, since these are common symptoms that mimic other diseases, Lymes tends to go unnoticed in the first few weeks.
- The Lyme disease bullseye rash might be itchy, warm to touch, or painful and can occur on any region of the body. Typically it may be seen in the groin, back, arms, thighs etc.
Other symptoms of Lymes include:
What Should You Do If You Find A Tick
Don’t touch the tick with your bare hand.
Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to your skin as possible.
Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Don’t squeeze the tick, and don’t use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives, or a lit match to kill the tick.
Save the tick. Place it in a plastic container or bag so it can be tested for disease, if needed.
Wash the bite area well with soap and water and put an antiseptic lotion or cream on the site.
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Diverse Characteristics Of Lyme Disease Rash
The authors examined 271 Lyme disease patients who had an erythema migrans rash to determine what does a Lyme disease rash look like? ¹
We studied associations between these presenting characteristics , as well as whether they were associated with age, sex, EM duration, body location, and initiation of antibiotics, the authors write.
The patients were part of a longitudinal cohort study from 3 sites in Maryland and southeastern Pennsylvania. They were not enrolled if their rash was under 5 cm in diameter or their acute illness was longer than 3 months.
The study found that: