Who’s At Risk Of Lyme Disease
The risk of getting Lyme disease is higher:
- for people who spend time in woodland or moorland areas
- from March to October because more people take part in outdoor activities
It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and speak to a GP if you start to feel unwell.
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.
Treatment Of Lyme Disease
Although all stages of Lyme disease respond to antibiotics, early treatment is more likely to prevent complications.
Antibiotics such as doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime, taken by mouth for 2 to 3 weeks, are effective during the early stages of the disease. If early disease is localized, people may need treatment for only 10 days. If people cannot take any of these drugs, azithromycin is sometimes used but is less effective. Usually, doxycycline is not given to children under 8 years old or to pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Antibiotics can also help relieve many of the symptoms of Lyme disease.
For arthritis due to Lyme disease, antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cefuroxime, or doxycycline are given by mouth for 28 days, or ceftriaxone is given intravenously for 28 days.
Antibiotics eradicate the bacteria and, in most people, relieve arthritis. However, arthritis sometimes lasts even after all the bacteria are gone because inflammation continues. Even after successful antibiotic treatment, some people still have other symptoms such as fatigue, headache, and mental problems.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may relieve the pain of swollen joints. Fluid that collects in affected joints may be drained. Using crutches may help.
Don’t Miss: Does Lyme Disease Ever Go Away
What Are The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
- Early symptoms can mimic summer flu and other bacterial and viral illnesses: fever, achiness, extreme fatigue and malaise, severe headache or neck ache
- A red round expanding skin rash may, or may not, be present
- When present, the expanding skin rash is usually greater than 2 inches in size
- Rash is not usually extremely itchy
- Rash lasts for days to weeks and can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms
Also Check: My Dog Tested Positive For Lyme Disease
What Might A Doctor Misdiagnose Lyme Disease As
Ticks can carry a variety of different organisms and diseases with them.
The lone star tick can carry a disease known as southern tick-associated rash illness. The rash it causes to a Lyme disease rash. In addition, it can cause similar symptoms to Lyme disease, including fever, fatigue, joint and muscle aches, and headache.
Read Also: Lyme Disease And Red Meat
What Are The Second Stage Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The symptoms of second stage, early disseminated, Lyme disease can be difficult to attribute. Symptoms include severe fatigue, fever, pain, intermittent weakness and achiness of the muscles and joints, numbness in arms and legs, vision changes, and cognitive dysfunction such as short-term memory difficulties and problems multitasking. These symptoms are not specific for Lyme disease and can make the diagnosis of second stage Lyme disease very challenging.
More recognizable Lyme disease nervous system manifestations include facial paralysis , or meningitis with severe headache and stiff neck. Notable cardiac manifestations include passing out or feeling faint from an abnormally slow heart rate, irregular heart palpitations, or unexplained difficulty tolerating exercise. Meningitis and carditis are both potentially serious Lyme disease conditions and warrant immediate medical attention.
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.
Also Check: Milk Thistle For Lyme Disease
Who Is At Risk For Lyme Disease
Anyone can get a tick bite. But people who spend lots of time outdoors in wooded, grassy areas are at a higher risk. This includes campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and parks.
Most tick bites happen in the summer months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors. But you can get bitten in the warmer months of early fall, or even late winter if temperatures are unusually high. And if there is a mild winter, ticks may come out earlier than usual.
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.
Recommended Reading: Lyme Disease In Dogs Treatment
Risk Factors For Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Youre at risk for early disseminated Lyme disease if youve been bitten by an infected tick and remain untreated during stage 1 of Lyme disease.
Youre at an increased risk of contracting Lyme disease in the United States if you live in one of the areas where most Lyme disease infections are reported. They are:
- any of the Northeastern states from Maine to Virginia
- the north central states, with the highest incidence in Wisconsin and Minnesota
- parts of the West Coast, primarily northern California
Certain situations also can increase your risk of coming into contact with an infected tick, such as:
- gardening, hunting, hiking, or doing other outside activities in areas where Lyme disease is a potential threat
- walking or hiking in high grass or wooded areas
- having pets that may carry ticks into your home
Learn The Stages Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease occurs in three stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. However the stages can overlap and not all patients go through all three. A bulls-eye rash is usually considered one of the first signs of infection, but many people develop a different kind of rash or none at all. In most cases, Lyme symptoms can start with a flu-like illness. If untreated, the symptoms can continue to worsen and turn into a long-lived debilitating illness.
Stage 1: Early Localized Disease
Symptoms with early localized Lyme disease may begin hours, a few days or even weeks after a tick bite. At this point, the
infection has not yet spread throughout the body. Lyme is the easiest to cure at this stage.
Symptoms may include:
Recommended Reading: Doctors Who Specialize In Lyme Disease
Recommended Reading: What Is The Medication For Lyme Disease
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
Recommended Reading: Do You Get A Rash With Lyme Disease
Which Areas Are More Likely To Have It
The tick that causes Lyme disease has been moving from the Northeast and upper Midwest into the Southern and Western U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Cases in California and Florida are on the rise. After a drop between 2017 and 2018, the numbers jumped a little bit in 2019.
But most Lyme cases in 2019 were in 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Washington, DC, is also a hotspot.
In 2019, Pennsylvania had the most Lyme infections, with 6,763. New York was next, with 2,847 cases.
In the Southern U.S., where itâs hotter, ticks stay under leaves so they don’t dry out. This means people donât get Lyme from Southern ticks very often because they don’t usually come out to bite.
Even though people only report about 30,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year, there are actually around 476,000 a year. The same tick also can spread other diseases, including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus. Those diseases are also on the rise in the U.S.
Whoâs likeliest to get Lyme disease?
Boys up to age 15 and men between the ages of 40 and 60 are the most likely to get Lyme disease. Thatâs because they tend to play outside and go camping, hunting, and hiking.
Why are there more ticks now than there used to be?
There are several reasons why Lyme is spreading. Some of these are:
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Antibiotic For Lyme Disease
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection you get from the bite of an infected tick. At first, Lyme disease usually causes symptoms such as a rash, fever, headache, and fatigue. But if it is not treated early, the infection can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. Prompt treatment can help you recover quickly.
When Should You See A Doctor If You Think You Have Lyme
The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. Take a photo of the rash and see your doctor. At this stage, treatment with antibiotics will probably work.
If you don’t have the rash but have symptoms like fatigue, fever, and headache but no respiratory symptoms like a cough, you may want to talk to your doctor.
Recommended Reading: What Kind Of Ticks Have Lyme Disease
Complications Of Untreated Lyme Disease
If unchecked, the Lyme disease infection can spread to other bodily systems, causing significant damage. Untreated, complications of this condition can be very severe:
- Arthritis:Prolonged infection with Lyme disease leads to chronic joint inflammation and swelling, usually in the knees . These symptoms tend to arise within two years of infection, with periods of flare-ups and remissions. This arthritis is relatively difficult to manage, though antibiotics and steroids may be attempted.
- Lyme carditis:If the bacteria reach the heart tissues, they can cause inflammation and lead to heart block. The electrical signals being sent between the upper and lower chambers of the heart are interrupted, impairing the coordination of the heartbeat. Though disruptive, this is rarely fatal.
- Lyme neuroborreliosis:Inflammation of multiple nerves, including those in the spine and brain, is the chief characteristic of this condition. This can also affect the meningesthe layer of tissue surrounding the brain and spineleading to meningitis, among other conditions. Antibiotic therapy, if applied promptly, tends to be effective as a treatment.
Even in cases where Lyme disease has progressed, antibiotic regimensespecially drugs like doxycyclineare generally successful in resolving problems.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Early symptoms of Lyme disease start between 3 to 30 days after an infected tick bites you. The symptoms can include:
- A red rash called erythema migrans . Most people with Lyme disease get this rash. It gets bigger over several days and may feel warm. It is usually not painful or itchy. As it starts to get better, parts of it may fade. Sometimes this makes the rash look like a “bull’s-eye.”
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
If the infection is not treated, it can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. The symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of your body
- Facial palsy, which is a weakness in your facial muscles. It can cause drooping on one or both sides of your face.
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, especially in your knees and other large joints
- Pain that comes and goes in your tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations, which are feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, pounding, or beating too hard or too fast
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
Also Check: What Symptoms Does Lyme Disease Cause
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
When To Call Your Doctor
Erythema migrans is a hallmark symptom of Lyme disease. If you think you might have been bitten by a tick and youve developed a circular rash, call your doctor as soon as possible. Medical attention is particularly important if you have other symptoms of early-stage Lyme disease, which are usually flu-like.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause:
- joint inflammation and pain
- short-term memory loss
If treated early, Lyme disease can almost always be cured. Call your doctor as soon as you see erythema migrans.
You May Like: Symptoms Of Untreated Lyme Disease
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.
Later Signs Of Lyme Disease
What if Lyme disease isnt detected early on? The longer that disease-causing bacteria linger in the body, the more they disseminate, and as these microbes spread to tissues throughout the body, they can trigger a litany of symptoms. CDC says these may include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes. These lesions may pop up on other areas of the body
- A type of facial paralysis known as Bells palsy
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling. Knees and other large joints are vulnerable
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
You might have persistent or episodic symptoms, says Dr. Green. Pain that seems to move through the body? Thats common too. The hallmark of late Lyme is migratory joint pain: today my right knee hurts and tomorrow Im limping on my left ankle, and, oh, my third finger of my right hand swelled up, and, oh, my neck has swelled up, she says.
In rare cases, Lyme disease bacteria can enter the tissues of the heart. This complication, called Lyme carditis, can lead to lightheadedness, fainting, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or chest pain.
Also Check: Stem Cell Treatment For Lyme
Rmsf Vs Lyme Disease And The Ticks That Spread Them
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease are also transmitted by different kinds of ticks. Although different ticks are common in different regions, the prevalence of ticks is growing as a result of climate change and other factors.
RMSF is most often transmitted by the American dog tick, which can be found in the Central, Eastern, and Western areas of the United States. It can also be spread by the brown dog tick, which is found in the Southwestern U.S. near the Mexican border, as well as the Rocky Mountain wood tick in the Rocky Mountain states. Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and North Carolina account for over 60% of RMSF cases, but cases have been found throughout most of the U.S.
Lyme disease, on the other hand, is transmitted by black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, which are found in the upper midwestern and northeastern U.S. Along the Pacific coast, Lyme disease is carried by the western black-legged tick. States with the highest rates of Lyme disease include Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin, though it can occur in any state.