How To Prevent Lyme Disease
There is currently no vaccine for Lyme disease, so it’s important to take steps to prevent being bitten by ticks, particularly when you’re out in the countryside:
Wear trousers tucked into boots and long sleeve clothing when out walking or hiking. Use insect repellents every time, ideally one with 10 per cent DEET. Always check for ticks including children and pets when you get home. Remove ticks very carefully, pulling steadily using tweezers or a cotton thread.
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.
Later Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
In early disseminated Lyme disease, which occurs weeks to months after the tick bite, other symptoms may develop, including:
- Additional erythema migrans lesions
- Nerve pain.
- Facial or Bell’s 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
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Early Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The most common feature of localized Lyme disease is a slowly expanding skin lesion or rash known as erythema migrans . This rash usually develops 3 to 30 days after the disease-transmitting tick bite.
Erythema migrans is the earliest sign of the disease in about 70 percent of Lyme disease cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
There are certain characteristics that can help identify erythema migrans:
- It begins as a flat or slightly raised red spot at the site of the tick bite and can expand to become a round rash up to 73 centimeters across.
- It can appear on any area of the body but most frequently shows up on the lower limbs, buttocks, and groin in adults, and on the head and neck in children.
- A clear ring may appear around the center of the rash, giving it a bull’s-eye-like appearance .
- It may be warm to the touch, though rarely painful or itchy.
While the classic Lyme disease rash has a bull’s-eye shape, not all cases of erythema migrans look the same. The patient may develop a red, expanding lesion with a crusting of the skin at the center multiple red lesions red, oval-shaped plaques or a bluish rash, according to the CDC.
In addition to erythema migrans, people with localized Lyme disease may experience flu-like symptoms, including fever and chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pains, a general ill feeling , and swollen lymph glands.
What Are The Treatments For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. The earlier you are treated, the better it gives you the best chance of fully recovering quickly.
After treatment, some patients may still have pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that lasts more than 6 months. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome . Researchers don’t know why some people have PTLDS. There is no proven treatment for PTLDS long-term antibiotics have not been shown to help. However, there are ways to help with the symptoms of PTLDS. If you have been treated for Lyme disease and still feel unwell, contact your health care provider about how to manage your symptoms. Most people do get better with time. But it can take several months before you feel all better.
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Considerations While On Lyme Treatment
Antibiotics can wipe out beneficial intestinal flora, leading to a wide variety of additional health problems. It is important to take probiotics while on antibiotics to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Furthermore, antibiotics may interact with other drugs, supplements or food. The National Institutes of Healths MedLinePlus website gives information about drug interactions.
Stem Cell Therapy To Treat Symptoms
Regenerative stem cell therapy has shown great success in healing the nervous system. Transplanted stem cells placed in the brain and spinal cord travel to the damaged areas of your body, signaling them to heal.
Not only can your body begin to heal itself with stem cell regeneration, but other treatments are also enhanced. It is like extra support in fighting chronic infections and diseases that affect your immune system, like Lyme disease.
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Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Early disseminated Lyme disease occurs several weeks to months after the tick bite.
Youll have a general feeling of being unwell, and a rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite.
This stage of the disease is primarily characterized by evidence of systemic infection, which means infection has spread throughout the body, including to other organs.
Symptoms can include:
- disturbances in heart rhythm, which can be caused by Lyme carditis
- neurologic conditions, such as numbness, tingling, facial and cranial nerve palsies, and meningitis
The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.
Can I Catch Lyme Disease From My Dog
Dogs are not a direct source of infection for people. Lyme disease cant be transmitted from one pet to another, nor from pets to humans, except through tick bites. However, a carrier tick could come into your house on your dogs fur and get on you.
If your dog is diagnosed with Lyme disease, you and any other pets have probably been in the same outdoor environment and may also be at risk, so it is a good idea to consult with your physician and veterinarian to see whether you should test other pets or family members.
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Treatment For Chronic Lyme Disease
Sometimes, people go through treatment for Lyme disease but their symptoms donât go away. If this lasts over 6 months, itâs known as chronic Lyme disease or âpost-treatment Lyme disease syndromeâ .
Doctors still arenât sure why some people get PTLDS. Some believe that getting Lyme disease may cause damage to your tissues or immune system. Others believe itâs because the bacteria that causes Lyme hasnât completely gone away.
There is little evidence that taking more antibiotics at this stage will help. They may actually be harmful. Instead, your doctor will focus on treating the symptoms youâre still having. This will be different for everyone. Some people could benefit from a medicine that relieves fatigue, while others may need a drug that can help with headaches or very sensitive skin.
Your doctor could also have you try a treatment that helps people with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
More research is needed to figure out how best to treat PTLDS. Itâs something that can be frustrating. Just remember: Many people who have this condition do start feeling like their old selves after a few months.
Therapeutic Apheresis To Treat Symptoms
The apheresis process is based on a simple theory: remove the bad, replace the bad with the good. When treating neurologic Lyme disease, this means removing your infected blood and replacing it with donated, healthy blood that is free of infection.
Believe it or not, this process can happen in just a few hours at your Lyme doctors office.
The apheresis process can also be used to replace the plasma in your blood, making it even harder for Lyme bacteria to survive.
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Is Lyme Disease Contagious
There is no evidence that Lyme disease is contagious. You can’t get infected from touching, kissing, or having sex with a person who has Lyme disease, or from receiving a transfusion of their blood. Untreated Lyme disease during pregnancy can lead to infection of the placenta, but new mothers cannot transmit the disease to their baby through breast milk.
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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How To Safely Remove A Tick
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, and some ticks carry other diseases. To avoid infecting yourself, never crush a tick with your fingers. For more information on the safe removal, disposal and identification of ticks visit CDC.gov/ticks.
Symptoms: As The Infection Spreads
If the disease goes untreated in its early stages, over several weeks or months it can spread to other areas of the body like your:
- Nervous system
You could also have more rashes and periods of pain and weakness in your arms or legs. Other symptoms include:
- Facial muscle paralysis
- Inflamed brain and spinal cord
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Antibiotics To Treat Symptoms
Antibiotics are the first line of defense against Lyme disease because, for many, they work. However, there are a few things your family doctor may not be able to provide when it comes to antibioticslike, administering vitamins through IV Therapy can be much more useful than when given in pill or liquid form.
IV Therapy allows the antibiotics to bypass your digestive system and enter directly into your bloodstream, where the Lyme disease bacteria resides. By choosing to work with a Lyme literate doctor, you can receive this type of treatment and experience faster results.
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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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.
Chronic Lyme Disease Vs Post
Patients typically use the term chronic Lyme disease to describe the cluster of symptoms that started after getting Lyme disease and that persist despite having received a course of antibiotic treatment which has been deemed curative by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Patients say, “I’m not cured. I have symptoms now that I never had before Lyme disease. I’m fatigued 90% of the day. My muscles ache. My brain is in a fog. I can’t think clearly any more. I’m super sensitive to light and sound. What is going on? Chronic Lyme disease does exist – I’m a living example of it!”
Whatever one calls it, the experience is the same. Most often these patients experience profound fatigue, pain, and/or cognitive impairment. Mild to moderate levels of depression and anxiety may also accompany these symptoms, as the functional limitations can lead to social isolation, inability to work, and loss of sense of one’s identity as a provider, caretaker, or friend. Sometimes patients find themselves identifying with Job – the just and good man in the Bible whose life was wrecked by illness, death of loved ones, and economic disaster he felt tormented by God.
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Treating Lyme Disease While Pregnant
Treatment for pregnant women with Lyme disease is similar to that of non-pregnant adults. However, certain antibiotics, such as doxycycline should not be used as it can affect your unborn child.
Research shows that there are no life-threatening effects on the child when a pregnant woman receives appropriate antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Nearly all people with Lyme disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics, usually doxycycline or amoxicillin. The duration of treatment depends on the stage of infection. In general, the sooner such therapy is initiated following infection, the quicker and more complete the recovery.
Pregnant women should be treated for Lyme disease as well. There is, however, no evidence that a fetus can be infected from its mother. Additionally, NO strong evidence exists to suggest miscarriages are more likely after Lyme.
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Lyme Disease: Symptoms And Stages
Symptoms of early-stage Lyme disease include:
- muscle and joint aches
- swollen lymph nodes
Another common symptom of Lyme disease is a rash . As many as 80% of infected people may develop a rash, and roughly 20% of the time the rash has a characteristic bull’s-eye appearance.
When left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Later-stage symptoms may not appear until weeks or months after a tick bite occurs. They include:
- heart-rhythm irregularities
- nervous system abnormalities
Permanent damage to the joints or the nervous system can develop in patients with late Lyme disease. It is rarely, if ever, fatal.
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.
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What Is The Treatment
Most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated with 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotics. Depending on the symptoms and when you were diagnosed, you may require a longer course or repeat treatment with antibiotics.
Some people experience symptoms that continue more than 6 months after treatment. Research continues into the causes of these persistent symptoms and possible treatment methods.
Peripheral Nervous System Symptoms
The peripheral nervous system directly affects the limbs of your body. It comprises nerves outside the brain and spinal system that branch off to the rest of the body. It transmits signals from the brain to the body and contains the autonomic and somatic nervous systems.
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for the things our bodies do without thinking, like walking and talking at the same time, or reflexes. The somatic nervous system is responsible for completing voluntary actions, like the actions we need to take while driving, hitting the brake, turning on the blinker, or pushing the accelerator.
The most common symptoms to watch for include numbness, pain, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs. Any or all of these may occur because bacteria has spread to your peripheral nervous system.
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Chronic Lyme Dos And Don’ts
Chronic Lyme disease is an ongoing Borrelia burgdorferi infection that can involve any body system or tissue. The infection produces a wide range of symptoms and signs, which can be debilitating for some patients. Common symptoms include severe fatigue, migratory musculoskeletal pain, headaches, and impaired memory. Unfortunately, chronic Lyme disease is complex and often misunderstood, which means that many patients will struggle to obtain the care they need to regain their health. Every patient concerned about Lyme disease and tick-borne illness should know the following.