When Children And Adolescents With Lyme Have Neuropsych Symptoms
The association of Lyme disease and mental illness has been an area of hot debate among medical professionals for a number of years.
A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry by Fallon et al. that reviewed a database of nearly 7 million people in Denmark helps shed some light on this issue.
A record review of over 12,000 individuals diagnosed with LD in a hospital-related program, were compared to a control group without this diagnosis. The group of individuals who had LD had a 28% higher rate of mental disorders and double the risk of attempted suicide.
There was also a 42% higher rate of mood disorders and a 75% higher number of deaths by suicide compared to the non-Lyme controls. Having more than one episode of LD appeared to increase further the risk for mental disorders, affective disorders and suicide attempts, but not suicidal deaths.
In light of this confirmation of a positive association of LD and mental illness in adults, one must question if risk is also heightened in youth who develop LD, especially those who suffer with a severe or chronic form of the illness. What can we learn about kids from this study?
Of the 831 individuals who experienced mental disorders, 40% were age 19 and under. Interestingly, when looking at this group, those diagnosed with Lyme borreliosis before age 10 had the highest risk for later suicide attempts, while the highest rate of mood disorders were in those diagnosed in the age range 10-19 years old.
What Symptoms Occur In Covid
While all three infections are caused by different pathogens, they can all present with:
- Muscle aches
These symptoms, however, are where the crossovers tend to stop. When youre considering a COVID-19 infection and have all the aforementioned symptoms, you will also want to consider the other symptoms of COVID-19 as well. One markedly specific symptom of COVID-19 is a loss of taste and smell, which does not occur with Lyme disease or the flu.
When it comes to the flu, a runny or stuffy nose could be a good indicator that you do not have Lyme disease or a COVID-19 infection, as those two infections do not typically present with that symptom.
Lyme disease, although harder to diagnose because of its non-specific symptoms, has a couple of key indicators such as a bullseye rash at the site of the tick bite and swollen lymph nodes. That being said, swollen lymph nodes are a very rare side effect of a COVID-19 infection, so it may be helpful to get checked for both Lyme disease and COVID-19 if that symptom is present.
Image by on Does Lyme disease feel like the flu?
Explosion In The Tick Population Draws Attention To Rare Lyme Disease Symptoms In Children
For 11-year-old Jake Diaz, being outside is complicated. He loves playing golf, but he worries about ticks, because heâs lived with Lyme disease for more than half of his life.
âIt kind of takes me over and I’m not controlling my body anymore,â Jake said.
Initially, doctors diagnosed Jake with anxiety and childhood depression. He was prescribed antidepressants.
âThat was when things got infinitely worse,â Jake’s father, Ray Diaz, said. âJake was trying to physically harm himself. Jake was trying to jump out of moving cars. We were at Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular, and we got out of there and he just took off and sprinted away from us in the middle of Manhattan.â
Jakeâs mother Stacy Diaz, said it was a matter of life or death: âWhen you see your eight year old child and you think that you might not see them tomorrow because of it, it’s scary.â
The Diazes believe Jake was first exposed to an infected tick when he was two years old.
âJake was outside playing golf, swinging the club,â said Stacy. âI called him for lunch and he looked at me and he stopped and he just didn’t move. He couldn’t walk.â
Jakeâs doctors now say the incident was likely caused by tick borne paralysis, but emergency room doctors at the time diagnosed it as a pulled muscle. He recovered, but a few years later, a rash appeared on his right thigh.
âI had headaches, like, almost every day,â Jake said.
Also Check: Can Lyme Disease Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis
The Role Of Inflammation
The authors point out that there is a difference in the type of Lyme bacteria in Europe compared to the United States. The one in the US is associated with a stronger inflammatory response.
In general, mounting evidence supports the role of inflammation in mood disorders. Could kids in the US with LD be at even greater risk for psychiatric disturbances than their European counterparts? Presently, the answer is unknown, but more study is definitely required.
When looking at the effects of LD or any infection in kids, its important to remember that they are not little adults biologically, and a variety of differences need to be taken into account. In adults with LD, evidence indicates that anywhere from 15%-40% experience neuroborreliosis or neurologic Lyme symptoms.
Studies show that youth are more likely to experience central nervous system symptoms, meaning those limited to the brain and spinal cord, rather than peripheral nervous system manifestations
Peripheral symptoms can include feelings of numbness, pain, tingling, muscle weakness, etc. CNS symptoms which can occur secondary to inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, may result in encephalitis meningitis, as well as radiculoneuritis
Symptomatic manifestations of CNS involvement can include severe headache, stiff neck, fever, light sensitivity, double vision, and leg pain.
What Should I Do If I Find A Tick On My Child
If you find a tick on your child, you should remove it right away. And to do this, all you need is a pair of tweezers.
Dont try alternative remedies to remove a tick. Things like petroleum jelly or a match wont necessarily work. In fact, they could cause the tick to crawl deeper into the skin.
Pulling the tick out with tweezers is the best way to remove it.
You May Like: Ivermectin Dose For Lyme Disease
Getting Bit By A Tick Doesnt Mean Your Child Has Lyme Disease
A single tick bite wont give your child Lyme disease. So dont panic if you find a tick on your kid. If you remove the tick right away, your child cant end up with Lyme disease.
A tick can only transmit Lyme disease if theyve lived on a person for roughly 48 hours. As long as youve removed the tick before that time, your child doesnt have Lyme disease.
Regression And Other Symptoms In Children
Children are the largest population of Lyme patients.
The CDC study of reported Lyme cases from 19922006 found that the incidence of new cases was highest among 5- to 14-year-olds . About one quarter of reported Lyme cases in the United States involve children under 14 years old .
Children can have all the signs and symptoms of Lyme that adults have, but they may have trouble telling you exactly what they feel or where it hurts.
You may notice a decline in school performance, or your childs mood swings may become problematic.
Your childs social and speech skills or motor coordination may regress. Or your child may lose their appetite.
Children are more likely than adults to have arthritis as an initial symptom 01267-2/fulltext#sec0040″ rel=”nofollow”> 25).
In a 2012 Nova Scotian study of children with Lyme, 65 percent developed Lyme arthritis . The knee was the most commonly affected joint.
Recommended Reading: Can You Die From Lyme Disease
Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Children
Could your child be suffering from a life-altering disease?
It looks like any other disease contracted during childhood, but causes significant problems when left untreated. This silent culprit is known as Lyme disease, and its easy to pick up in almost any setting outside.
What are the best ways to avoid it to protect yourself and your family? Is there any way to detect Lyme disease in children?
Read on and learn everything about how to take care of your kids and keep them healthy. That way, if they do run into the disease, youll know what it is and how to treat it right away.
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasnt been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur months or years after the tick bite.
This stage is characterized by:
- arthritis of one or more large joints
- brain disorders, such as encephalopathy, which can cause short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess, problems with following conversations and sleep disturbance
- numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
Also Check: Do All Ticks Have Lyme Disease
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed In A Child
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. He or she will ask about recent tick bites. He or she will give your child a physical exam.
Lyme is usually not hard to diagnose. OBut other conditions may cause similar symptoms. The main symptom is often a rash, but more than 1 in 5 people infected with Lyme dont have the rash. In the earliest stage, diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite. In later stages, blood testing is very important to make a diagnosis of Lyme disease.
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.
Also Check: Lyme Disease And Liver Damage
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
Prognosis And Chronic Lyme Disease
The long-term prognosis for individuals who are treated appropriately with antimicrobials for Lyme disease, regardless of the stage of the illness, is excellent. The most common reason for a lack of response to appropriate antimicrobial therapy is misdiagnosis . Nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue, arthralgia, or myalgia, may persist for several weeks even in patients with early Lyme disease who are treated successfully. Their presence should not be regarded as an indication for additional treatment with antimicrobials. These nonspecific symptoms will usually resolve without additional antimicrobial therapy.
NOTE: The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Read Also: Fda Approved Lyme Disease Test
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Arthritis
Lyme arthritis usually occurs during a later stage of Lyme disease that has not been treated. For many children, arthritis is the first symptom of Lyme disease they experience, and most do not remember being bitten by a tick.
Symptoms of Lyme arthritis include:
- Joint pain, usually in the knees
- Joint swelling, usually in the knees
- Limping or inability to put weight on a limb
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may include:
- Enlarging, warm rash at the site of the bite that can last days to weeks, often with a partial central clearing so that it looks like a bulls eye
If left untreated, later stage symptoms of Lyme disease can include:
- Rash on other parts of the body
- Bells palsy
- Severe headache and neck stiffness
- Pain and swelling in the large joints
- Heart palpitations
Treatment For Erythema Migrans
People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Early diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease can help prevent late Lyme disease.
Treatment regimens listed in the following table are for the erythema migrans rash, the most common manifestation of early Lyme disease. These regimens may need to be adjusted depending on a persons age, medical history, underlying health conditions, pregnancy status, or allergies. Consult an infectious disease specialist regarding individual patient treatment decisions.
|100 mg, twice per day orally||N/A|
|500 mg, three times per day orally||N/A|
|500 mg, twice per day orally||N/A|
|4.4 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses||100 mg per dose|
|50 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 3 doses||500 mg per dose|
|30 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses||500 mg per dose|
*When different durations of antibiotics are shown to be effective for the treatment of Lyme disease, the shorter duration is preferred to minimize unnecessary antibiotics that might result in adverse effects, including infectious diarrhea and antimicrobial resistance.
NOTE: For people intolerant of amoxicillin, doxycycline, and cefuroxime, the macrolide azithromycin may be used, although it is less effective. People treated with azithromycin should be closely monitored to ensure that symptoms resolve.
Read Also: Lyme Disease Treated With Antibiotics
How Common Is Lyme Disease And How Does It Spread
Lyme disease most commonly occurs in children between five and nine years and adults between 55 and 59 years . It is estimated that there are 300,000 cases of Lyme disease every year in the US .
All ticks do not cause Lyme disease as they do not carry the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Based on the location, less than 1% to more than 50% of the ticks are infected by the bacteria . These infected ticks generally attach to hard-to-see places in the body such as the groin, scalp, and armpits. If they remain attached for around 36 to 48 hours, they transmit the bacteria .
Most diseases are transmitted by nymph ticks , which feed during the summer and spring. However, they may sometimes be transmitted by adult ticks during the cooler months .
How Can I Protect My Child From Deer Ticks
Ticks cannot jump or fly. They climb tall grasses or shrubs and wait for potential hosts to brush against them.
If you live, hike or camp in rural or wooded areas where you may be exposed to ticks, especially from late spring to early fall, you should take precautions. Here is what you can do to help prevent contact with infected ticks:
- In wooded areas and parks, stay on paths to avoid areas where ticks are most common.
- Ensure you and your children are dressed in long, loose-fitting clothes that cover the arms and legs, a hat and closed shoes . Tucking shirts into pants and pants into socks are extra precautions.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin as directed on the label. Reapply as suggested.
- Practice daily full body checks for ticks, and remove any attached ticks.
- Shower or bathe within a few hours of being outdoors.
- Keep gardens tidy and landscaped if you live near a wooded area.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease in humans.
Also Check: Full Recovery From Lyme Disease
Key Points About Lyme Disease In Children
- Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria. The bacteria are usually spread by tick bites.
- Lyme disease is a year-round problem, but it peaks during the spring and summer months.
- Ticks live in wooded areas, low-growing grasslands, and yards. A child is more at risk outdoors in these places, or around a pet who has been in these areas.
- One of the most common symptoms is a ring-shaped rash that looks like a bulls-eye. It may be pink in the center and have a darker red ring around it. The rash does not occur in every case of Lyme.
- Lyme is usually not hard for a healthcare provider to diagnose. Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite. Your child may have blood tests to help diagnose Lyme.
- Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotic medicine. Early stage Lyme disease is more easily cured with antibiotics than late-stage disease. Repeated courses of antibiotics for post-Lyme disease syndrome don’t help.
- There is no vaccine for Lyme disease. But you can help prevent Lyme disease by protecting your child from tick bites.
How Do You Get Lyme Disease
When an infected deer tick attaches to any part of the body, it quickly climbs onto the skin to find a place to bite. A tick on the body can go unnoticed for hours or days. But if the infected tick is removed within 24 hours, the chance of contracting Lyme disease is greatly reduced.
Because Lyme disease is not prevalent in Texas, Dr. Kahn says it’s unlikely a child could get the condition without traveling to one of the areas where it is more common. Further, there must be a history of a potential exposure to ticks children traveling or staying in a city are highly unlikely to be bitten by a tick.
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. Lyme disease cannot be spread from person to person, from mother to baby or from any other type of insect bite. A dog or cat cannot spread the disease to its owner, though pets could carry infected ticks inside your home.
Read Also: What Does A Lyme Bite Look Like