What Are The First Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
In the first early localized stage of Lyme disease the skin at the site of the tick bite becomes infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria which can cause an expanding round or oval red skin lesion called erythema migrans. This may or may not be associated with flu-like symptoms within days to a month after the tick bite such as achiness, chills, fever, sweats, fatigue, malaise, headache, stiff neck, muscle soreness, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and sore throat. The combination of the skin lesion and flu-like symptoms are the primary manifestations of acute stage Lyme disease. Acute Lyme disease is not associated with typical cold-like symptoms of runny nose, prominent cough, or prominent diarrhea.
Be Ready For Trial And Error
Lyme-related joint pain takes time to both diagnose and treat. In the meantime, there are many things you can do to decrease inflammation and pain. As every Lyme patient is different, try not to get too frustrated if what works for someone else doesnt work for you. Be patient as you experiment with diet, herbs, exercise, alignment, and releasing tight fascia. You will find tools that help you. Reach out and surround yourself with people who understand you and are on your side. We are all healing together.
Early Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease in humans can be vague, and chances are you have no idea youve been bitten by an infected tick until symptoms surface.
Ticks secrete an anesthetic that makes their bites painless, explains Christine Green, MD, a family physician in Mountain View, California, and a member of the Bay Area Lyme Foundations scientific advisory board. Plus, theyre tiny. A young, immature tick, called a nymphthe stage of development during which these bloodsuckers are most likely to transmit Lyme diseaseis roughly the size of a pinhead when it latches on, so you dont know its there, she tells Health.
According to the CDC, the incubation period for Lymein other words, the time between a persons exposure to Borrelia bacteria and symptom onsetranges from three to 30 days. The main symptoms of Lyme disease in the early days and weeks after infection can include:
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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
Not all cases of Lyme disease can be prevented. But you can help protect your family from tick bites. If you go into an area where ticks live, be sure to:
- Stay in the middle of the trail, instead of going through high grass or the woods.
- Wear closed shoes or boots, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. Tuck pant legs into shoes or boots to prevent ticks from crawling up legs.
- Use an insect repellent.
- Consider treating clothing and gear with permethrin to repel ticks. When used properly, permethrin is safe for all ages. But don’t use it on clothing or other material a child may suck on or chew.
- Wear light-colored clothing to help you see ticks more easily.
- Shower and wash hair after being outside to remove ticks before they attach.
Lyme Disease: Swelling In Feet & Ankles
Late-stage Lyme disease can lead to arthritis affecting the weight-bearing joints of the body, including the joints of the feet and ankles. Pain and swelling in the feet and/or ankles can be caused by many different conditions including old injuries.
No matter the cause, its important to discuss painful foot and ankle symptoms with an experienced podiatrist as early as possiblethe sooner we can diagnose the cause, the sooner youll feel relief. Back to top
Heel pain can be caused by lyme disease & many other conditions.
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Lyme Disease: Ankle Pain
Undiagnosed & untreated Lyme disease can progress to Lyme arthritis and cause joint pain, including stiff, swollen and painful ankles .
Lyme arthritis occurs when the bacteria responsible for the Lyme infection enter the joints and inflame the tissues. In many cases Lyme arthritis episodes are short-lived, and can recur for months to years after the initial tick bite.
Lyme disease is only one possible cause of swollen or painful ankle joints. Whatever the cause, effective & lasting treatment starts with an expert evaluation by a foot and ankle specialist. Back to top
Why Does Lyme Arthritis Happen
After Borrelia invades a human host, its corkscrew shape allows it to migrate throughout the body, including the joints. Infected joints may present with visible swelling and pain. In many cases, the initial symptoms of a Lyme infection, such as fever, flu-like symptoms, or a rash, will have disappeared by the time LA develops.
As weve so often come to expect when sifting through information about Lyme, theres some controversy in the medical community as to whether LA is caused by an overabundance of inflammatory chemicals, an autoimmune response, or chronic, low-grade infections. Patients who have dealt with LA tend to fit into one of three categories:
Though we may not have all the answers as to why LA occurs in some people and not in others, Dr. Rawls believes the immune system plays a crucial role in combating the distressing symptoms.
Theres good evidence that antibiotics dont eradicate Borrelia from the body, says Dr. Rawls about the stealth pathogen. The microbe wants to quietly set up shop in nutrient-rich tissues like collagen and joints until it can move to another host via a tick bite. The only thing that keeps bacteria in check is your immune system.
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Lyme Disease Often Leads To Lyme Arthritis
Although Lyme disease may affect many organs, such as the heart and nervous system, joint involvement tends to be the most common and persistent manifestation, resulting in joint swelling and pain. About 60% of people who are infected with Lyme develop arthritis unless they receive antibiotics.
In most, Lyme arthritis resolves after 30 days of treatment with an oral antibiotic, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin. Individuals with persistent symptoms despite an oral antibiotic usually respond to treatment with an intravenous antibiotic for 30 days. However, about 10% of those with Lyme arthritis fail to respond to antibiotic treatment, for reasons that have long been unclear.
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.
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Lyme Arthritis: Highly Treatable Slow To Resolve
EXPERT ANALYSIS FROM THE ANNUAL PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASES CONFERENCE SPONSORED BY CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL COLORADO
VAIL, COLO. Arthritis is far and away the most common manifestation of late Lyme disease, affecting up to 30% of children whose early-stage disease went untreated.
Lyme arthritis presents with a distinctive clinical picture. Nevertheless, this common condition is often initially mismanaged as a joint sprain or other orthopedic injury, with the correct diagnosis coming only following referral after a month or more with no improvement, according to Dr. Roberta L. DeBiasi, acting chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Childrens National Medical Center, Washington.
Dr. Roberta L. DeBiasi
“We see tons of kids with Lyme arthritis. We get two or three cases every week in our clinic,” she said at the conference.
Lyme arthritis occurs months to years after an untreated exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi. Affected patients typically present with a history of recurrent, weeks- or months-long attacks of joint swelling in one or a few joints. The knee is by far the most common site, but other large joints can be involved, as can the temporomandibular joint. An involved knee may swell up to literally the size of a basketball, yet the child has no fever, erythema, or systemic complaints, and surprisingly little pain given the effusion size.
Dr. DeBiasi reported having no financial conflicts.
Treatment For Lyme Disease Symptoms
Doctors say the sooner you notice symptoms, the better your outcome. People treated in the early stages of Lyme generally make a full, rapid recovery, the CDC notes.
Antibiotics are recommended for most people with Lyme disease, but what that regimen looks like varies widely from person to person. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says a short course of an oral antibiotic, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, can clear up Lyme infection in most cases. However, the particular drug, dosage, and duration your doctor recommends may depend on factors such as:
- Your age
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How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
The best way you can avoid Lyme disease in central PA, and indeed, anywhere there is a risk to human health, is to avoid walking in brushy, wooded areas with long grass. Other precautions you should take include:
- Tick-proof your yard. Clear leaves and brush on a regular basis and ensure you mow your lawn regularly.
- Cover up. When youre in grassy or wooded areas, wear long pants tucked into your socks, shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves. Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks.
- Stay on trails. Try not to veer off from trails and avoid taking any routes through long grass or bushes. In addition, always keep your dog on a leash, as dogs are prone to tick bites, too.
- Wear insect repellent. An insect repellent with at least 20 percent or higher concentration of DEET will help protect your skin from tick bites. If youre a parent of young children, you should always apply repellent to your kids rather than letting them do it themselves and take care to avoid their eyes, mouth and hands. Chemical repellents can be toxic, so always use them with care and be sure to read the label.
Its also good practice to apply permethrin-containing products to your clothing for extra protection.
When its caught and treated as early as possible, Lyme disease can be fully treated, saving you from potential complications like arthritis and joint pain. You and your family can be tick aware while still enjoying the great outdoors and protecting your health.
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.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Symptoms can start anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the bite. They may look different depending on the stage of your infection. In some cases, you wonât notice any symptoms until months after the bite.
Early symptoms include:
All of those symptoms are also common in the flu. In most Lyme infections, one of the first symptoms youâll notice is a rash.
Without treatment, symptoms can get worse. They might include:
- Severe headache or neck stiffness
- Rashes on other areas of your body
- Arthritis with joint pain and swelling, particularly in your knees
- âDroopingâ on one or both sides of your face
- Inflammation in your brain and spinal cord
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in your hands or feet
What does the rash look like?
Some Lyme rashes look like a bull’s-eye with circles around the middle. But most are round, red, and at least 2 inches across.
The rash slowly gets bigger over several days. It can grow to about 12 inches across. It may feel warm to the touch, but itâs usually not itchy or painful. It can show up on any part of your body.
How small are ticks?
Ticks come in three sizes, depending on their life stage. They can be the size of a grain of sand, a poppy seed, or an apple seed.
Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to protect yourself from ticks. Cover up as much skin as you can when you’re going to be in wooded or grassy areas. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants with the legs tucked into your socks. And keep in mind that it’s easier to see ticks on light-coloured clothes.
Use a bug repellent that has the chemical DEET to keep away ticks. Use products that contain 0.5% permethrin on your clothing and outdoor gear, such as your tent. You can also buy clothing already treated with permethrin. Permethrin is not available as an insect repellent in Canada, but travel health clinics may be able to advise you on how to buy permethrin or permethrin-treated gear.
Check your pets for ticks after they’ve been outside. You can’t get Lyme disease from your pet. But your pet can bring infected ticks inside. These ticks can fall off your pet and attach to you. Check your clothing and outdoor gear after you have been outside. Remove any ticks you find. Then put your clothing in a clothes dryer on high heat for 1 hour to kill any ticks that might remain.
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Facts About Lyme Disease In Pa
Ticks thrive in the countryside of Pennsylvania in particular, and according to a study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , Lyme has a greater likelihood of occurring where suburban developments encroach on existing forest. This is thought to be because the white-footed mouse that is the most important animal in the Lyme disease transmission cycle can live without too many predators under these circumstances.
Notable statistics of Lyme disease in PA include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
For some people, a telltale sign of the disease is the red bulls eye-shaped skin rash that presents in some, but not all sufferers, within three to 30 days after being bitten by a tick.
Often, these first signs are missed when youre infected with Lyme disease and are dismissed as the flu or some other virus. This is very worrying because if antibiotic treatment isnt begun when the first signs of the disease present, your condition can become more serious.
Joint pain is another issue that can occur with Lyme disease. In the worst cases, over several weeks, nervous system and heart issues can develop. If left untreated, you may suffer from arthritis and neurological issues. In fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation, when Lyme disease is untreated, more than half of all sufferers will develop sporadic arthritis bouts.
Is Your Arthritis Chronic Lyme In Disguise
If you develop joint pain and stiffness as you get older, its easy to assume you have osteoarthritis, a common condition among middle-aged and older adults thats caused by regular old wear and tear.
But before you write off a sudden case of stiff, achy joints as a sign youre not the spring chicken you once were, ask yourself a question Whats my tick exposure like?
Ticks are sneaky little freeloaders. They hide out in grasses and on trees just waiting for the chance to hitch a ride and a meal. And if you spend a lot of time outside, youve probably found more than a few ticks on you over the years.
Hopefully, you found them before they had a chance to sink their fangs into you. But lets face it theyre easy to miss. Sometimes you find one a week later, fat and happy after feasting on your blood. Sometimes you never find them. They hide in your armpit or behind your ear. They fill up on your blood, fall off and go their merry way, while youre none the wiser.
The problem is, these ticks could be carrying Lyme disease bacteria. Now, I know everyone thinks that if youre exposed to Lyme disease bacteria, youll develop symptoms that make it very easy to catch right away, like a bulls eye rash or flu-like symptoms.
It pops up in around 60 percent of people with untreated Lyme. The question is how do you know if your arthritis is caused by Lyme or not?
Lucky for us, researchers may have just discovered a way
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When Lyme Disease Isnt Caught And Treated Early It Can Cause Late
If youre from a certain area, you know at least a little about Lyme disease. Its the reason your parents made you cover up any time youd be remotely close to a wooded area and checked you religiously for ticks upon your return home.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease spread by certain ticks in certain parts of the United States and Europe. Early on, it can cause flu-like symptoms and a telltale bulls-eye rash. But if Lyme disease isnt caught and treated with antibiotics promptly, the infection can eventually spread through the body. The most common late-stage symptoms include joint swelling and pain, a condition known as Lyme arthritis.
Historically, about 60 percent of people with undiagnosed, untreated Lyme disease would develop Lyme arthritis, according to a study in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology.
Lyme arthritis, however, shouldnt be confused with chronic Lyme. As its name implies, chronic Lyme is a condition that doesnt go away with one course of antibiotics. Its controversial in the medical world, partly because some patients are diagnosed with chronic Lyme when lab tests dont show evidence of an infection. Some doctors insist that chronic Lyme patients symptoms fade when they stay on antibiotics others argue that its a different disease entirely and that long-term antibiotics will only create more side effects.
Late-stage Lyme, on the other hand, is curable Lyme disease thats progressed and lead to complications such as arthritis.