How Common Is Lyme Disease
Its estimated that 476,000 people contract Lyme disease in the United States every year, but only a fraction are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you are a parent or caregiver, your childs risk is greater than yours. Thats because children are closer to the ground, more likely to spend time outdoors, more likely to play in leaves and roll in grass, and often closer to pets that carry ticks.
Verywell / Ellen Lindner
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Your doctor is the person who can tell for sure if you have Lyme disease, but here are two common signs:
The rash may be big between the size of a quarter and 10 inches across. This rash spreads out over time and is called erythema migrans , or migrating red rash. Later, the rash also can appear somewhere else on your body, far from the tick bite.
Its important to go to the doctor right away if you or your parent think you might have Lyme disease. Someone who waits too long or doesnt realize he or she was bitten by a tick might start to feel even worse. In some cases, a persons face muscles might stop working properly. That means the person wouldnt be able to smile on that side or close that eye. This is called Bells palsy, or facial nerve paralysis . Other people might develop swelling or pain in their knee or another joint a few months after the tick bite.
Sometimes, people dont have any signs that they are sick with Lyme disease.
How You Get Lyme Disease
If a tick bites an animal carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the tick can become infected. The tick can then transfer the bacteria to a human by biting them.
Ticks don’t jump or fly. They climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something they’re on. They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.
Generally, you’re more likely to become infected if the tick is attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin.
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Lyme Disease Treatment In Children
If you suspect your child has Lyme disease, take them to see the pediatrician. Based on your childs symptoms, your pediatrician may prescribe an antibiotic the type of antibiotic and duration of treatment depend on your childs symptoms and if they have any allergies to medications. If your kiddo doesnt have the classic bullseye rash, your pediatrician may want to do a blood test to check if your little one has the antibodies to the Lyme bacterium. If its positive, your pediatrician will treat with antibiotics. However, it takes a while for the body to generate antibodies to fight the illness, so blood tests are most accurate about four weeks after infection.
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.
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Traumas Role In Lyme Disease
Trauma can activate the Borrelia bacteria, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in kids. Borrelia can lie dormant for a LONG time after your child was infected. The trauma, and the symptoms above, is often the first sign your child has Lyme.
If your childs immune system is functioning correctly, the bacteria will simply lie in wait until your childs immune system is stressed trauma.
A common statement I hear is, My child was fine until the surgery, the injury, changing schools, the accident, the move, the divorce, or in my daughters case, puberty.
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?
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How To Protect Kids From Tick Bites
Here, our top tips to help prevent tick bites on kids:
Dress your child in light-colored clothing so its easier to spot ticks they should also wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, a hat and closed-toe shoes when playing in an area where ticks may be present
Use insect repellent, such as DEET or permethrin
If you find a deer tick on your child thats been on for more than 36 hours and its been removed for less than 72 hours, call your pediatrician to discuss giving your child a one-time dose of an antibiotic called doxycycline, which is now recommended for kids of all ages to reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease after a tick bite.
Meet Dina DiMaggio, MD, and Anthony F. Porto, MD, MPH, official spokespeople for the American Academy of Pediatrics and the co-authors of The Pediatricians Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers. They write about the latest AAP guidelines, studies and seasonal issues affecting babies and toddlers. Follow them on Instagram @pediatriciansguide.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
Dr Robert Bransfield On Lyme Disease In Kids
Dr. Robert Bransfield, a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers, explains that executive functioning is one of the first things to go when infected with Lyme disease. This is the most complex and sophisticated area of the brain and that it is the most vulnerable part when things go wrong.
Executive functioning is the ability to create and sustain goal-directed behavior. In children with Lyme, you can see slow processing speed. This is imperative to recognize, as it takes longer for these children to digest and express information. Thats significant when you need to absorb information quickly and recall information when taking tests in school.
According to Dr. Bransfield, children battling Lyme may have low tolerance to frustration, which can result in irritability. Then you might see hyper-vigilance, low-grade anxiety, and depression. Because there are cognitive problems with attention, concentration, and memory a child is not as on top of things as they used to be.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Children
You may or may not notice a tick bite on your child before they start showing symptoms of Lyme disease. Early symptoms of Lyme disease in children include:
- A “bullseye” rash that looks circular and feels warm rash)
- A swollen joint, such as the knee or hip, that may or may not be painful
The classic bullseye rash is the most common symptom of Lyme disease and occurs in approximately 70-80% of cases. Some children infected with Lyme disease may not form the characteristic bullseye rash, or if the tick bite is in the hairline, the rash may not be visible.
It’s important to know that some children will develop redness or swelling around a tick bite, but general redness is not necessarily the characteristic bullseye rash. Typically, this irritation will go away in 1-2 days.
When left untreated for weeks, Lyme disease can cause more serious complications such as meningitis, Bell’s palsy or heart block, a condition where part of the heart cannot pump adequately. If your child has developed these complications, they may show symptoms such as:
- Facial weakness or asymmetry
- Swollen lymph nodes
These symptoms may appear within a few weeks of a tick bite or travel to areas where Lyme disease is endemic. They should go away with proper diagnosis and treatment.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated In A Child
Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotic medicine. Early stage Lyme disease is more easily cured with antibiotics than late-stage disease. Your childs healthcare provider will discuss the best treatment plan with you based on:
- Your childs symptoms and test results
- If your child had a recent tick bite
- If the tick tests positive for bacteria that cause Lyme
- If your child lives in an area where the ticks are known to be infected
Talk with your childs healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
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Unexplained Pain And Other Sensations
Some people with Lyme may have sharp rib and chest pains that send them to the emergency room, suspecting a heart problem 00090-7/abstract%20″ rel=”nofollow”> 27).
When no problem is found, after the usual testing, the ER diagnosis is noted as an unidentified musculoskeletal cause.
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Other symptoms have to do with cranial nerves.
- Ear-ringing . Tinnitus can be a nuisance, especially at bedtime when it seems to get louder as youre trying to fall asleep. About 10 percent of people with Lyme experience this (
- Hearing loss. One study reported that 15 percent of Lyme patients experienced loss of hearing .
- Jaw pain or toothaches that are not related to actual tooth decay or infection.
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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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.
Is It Lyme Disease Or Is It The Flu
While there are some similarities between early Lyme disease symptoms and the flu, theyre very different illnesses. Flu symptoms in babies and toddlers include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Lyme disease symptoms include joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and headache in addition to fever, chills and nausea. Lyme is also most common during the spring and summer months, when the flu is usually uncommon. Additionally, many people who get Lyme disease also have a noticeable bulls eye rash.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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What Is The Outlook For Someone With Lyme Disease
Most of the people who get Lyme disease and receive treatment early will be fine. Treatment can cure Lyme disease but you might still have some long-term effects. Untreated Lyme disease may contribute to other serious problems but its rarely fatal.
Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome
Even after proper treatment, some people may experience lingering fatigue, achiness or headaches. This is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome or PTLDS. The symptoms dont mean that you still have an infection. PTLDS probably wont respond to additional antibiotics. The majority of people in this group will have symptoms that resolve at some point over the next six months.
Chronic Lyme disease
Chronic Lyme disease is a term used by some for a condition in a person who had Lyme disease and the symptoms of PTLDS. Some people consider chronic Lyme disease to be the same as PTLDS. However, some people receive a chronic Lyme disease diagnosis without a Lyme disease diagnosis. Sometimes, extended treatment with antibiotics helps.
This term may be why some people think a Lyme disease infection can occur without being bitten by a tick. There isn’t enough proof that mosquitoes can transmit Lyme disease. Many researchers dislike using the term chronic 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.
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Extreme Whole Body Hyperthermia For Children
Extreme Whole Body Hyperthermia is the combination of heat, medications, and supplements. This procedure is done outside of the US and in some countries this is performed in an outpatient setting. I can tell you from first hand experience that it should only be done in an inpatient setting.
It is this procedure, whole body hyperthermia, that saved my daughters life. We stayed in Germany for two weeks, and my daughter underwent two Whole Body Hyperthermia sessions in addition to detoxing, immune boosting IVs, and other treatments like ozone. The integrative approach of extremely high heat, antibiotics, and immune boosting treatments was the key to her new normal.
You can read more about hyperthermia and stories of patients on our article on hyperthermia treatment.
Learn The Signs Of Lyme Disease And How To Tell If An Infected Tick Has Bitten Your Child
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick . It is the most common tick-borne disease in the U.S. and was first reported in Lyme, Connecticut.
Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and upper Midwest regions of the U.S. It is not highly prevalent in Texas. Out of reported cases of Lyme disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported higher incidences in children ages 5 through 9.
“Children in that age group are more likely to spend more hours playing in the woods during the summer,” says Jeffrey Kahn, M.D., Director of Infectious Disease at Children’s Health and Professor at UT Southwestern. “This makes them more likely to become exposed to ticks and tick bites.”
Learn more about Lyme disease to help keep your child safe if playing outside and know what symptoms to watch for if a tick does bite your child.
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Inspection And Tick Removal
Because recommendations for avoidance are not always practical, particularly for children and during the summer, daily close inspection for ticks should be performed each time one has been outdoors. Parents of children in endemic areas must be vigilant to check for ticksespecially the nymphs, because of their smaller size from the spring to the fall. Checking inside skin folds, behind ears, the umbilicus, groin, axilla, hairline, and scalp must be routine. If one tick is found, search thoroughly for others.
See the image below for a tick removal diagram and instructions.
While these instructions may represent the optimal method for removing the tick, it is more important to remove it promptly than to delay removing it while obtaining forceps or gloves.
A common misperception is that pressing a hot match to the tick or trying to smother it with petroleum jelly, gasoline, nail polish, or other noxious substances is beneficial. This only prolongs exposure time and may cause the tick to eject infectious organisms into the body. Finally, do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids may contain infectious organisms.
Once the tick is removed, wash the bite area with soap and water or with an antiseptic to destroy any contaminating microorganisms. Additionally, the person who removed the tick should wash his or her hands. The removed tick should be submitted for species identification.