Monday, March 20, 2023

What Do You Do If You Have Lyme Disease

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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider

How Do You Know If You Have Lyme Disease

If you feel sick after having spent time in areas where ticks might live, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

If you received a Lyme disease diagnosis and you dont feel well after taking all of your antibiotics, contact your provider. This is especially true if you have symptoms like a stiff neck or mental confusion.

Review Your Companys Family Medical Leave Act

Many people are unaware that they qualify for medical leave under FMLA when they experience a serious illness. Generally, the maximum time FMLA allows is 12 weeks, which you can take all at once or intermittently over 12 months.

To be eligible to take medical leave, you must work for a covered employer, have held employment for a minimum of 12 months, and worked at least 1250 hours , states the Employees Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Under FMLA, covered employers are defined as:

  • Private companies with more than 50 employees
  • Government agencies
  • Public school systems

If you work for a private company with less than 50 employees, you could still be eligible for medical leave, but the requirements would fall under state family and medical leave laws instead of the federal government. Your human resources department should be able to provide you with more detailed information.

Whether you need time to rest, attend doctors appointments, or begin a new treatment, FMLA can be a critical tool to help you keep your job and remain in good standing with your boss, especially if you anticipate missing a day here or there, or you are too sick to work.

What Can I Do To Lower My Chances Of Getting Lyme Disease Or Any Other Disease From Ticks

Prevention begins with you! Take steps to reduce your chances of being bitten by any tick. Ticks are most active during warm weather, generally late spring through fall. However, ticks can be out any time that temperatures are above freezing. Ticks cling to vegetation and are most numerous in brushy, wooded or grassy habitats. When you are outside in an area likely to have ticks , follow these simple steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

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Ongoing Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

A few people who are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease continue to have symptoms, like tiredness, aches and loss of energy, that can last for years.

These symptoms are often compared to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Its not clear why this happens to some people and not others. This means theres also no agreed treatment.

Speak to a doctor if your symptoms come back, or do not improve, after treatment with antibiotics.

The doctor may be able to offer you further support if needed, such as:

  • referral for a care needs assessment
  • telling your employer, school or higher education institution that you require a gradual return to activities
  • communicating with children and families social care

Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024

Achy Stiff Or Swollen Joints

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Joint pain and stiffness, often intermittent, are early Lyme symptoms. Your joints may be inflamed, warm to the touch, painful, and swollen. You may have stiffness and limited range of motion in some joints .

Pain may move around. Sometimes your knees may hurt, whereas other times its your neck or your heels. You may also have bursitis . Bursae are the thin cushions between bone and surrounding tissue.

The pain may be severe, and it may be transitory. More than one joint may be affected. Most often the large joints are involved .

People often attribute joint problems to age, genetics, or sports. Lyme should be added to that list, as these statistics indicate:

  • One study estimates that 80 percent of people with untreated Lyme have muscle and joint symptoms .
  • Fifty percent of people with untreated Lyme have intermittent episodes of arthritis .
  • Two-thirds of people have their first episode of joint pain within six months of the infection .
  • Use of anti-inflammatory drugs may mask the actual number of people with joint swelling .

Summary:

Joint pain that comes and goes, or moves from joint to joint, could be a sign of Lyme.

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Do You Know How Long The Tick Was Attached To You

It may be hard to answer this question, because people do not always notice a tick or tick bite right away. However, you might have a good idea of when the tick bite occurred, such as during a recent outdoor activity.

The general rule is that the longer a tick that carries the Lyme bacteria has been attached to you, the more likely it is that you may get Lyme disease. Removing ticks as quickly as possible is an important step in preventing Lyme disease. And its why preventive antibiotics are especially helpful the longer the tick is attached.

Black-legged ticks spread pathogens that cause other infections, too . Tick bites can cause those infections much faster than they cause Lyme. Thats another reason to remove ticks promptly. For more information, see Other Tick-Borne Diseases.

Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented Or Avoided

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks. When you are outdoors, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid areas that are wooded, brushy, or have tall grass.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Use an insect repellent with at least 20% DEET. It can be put on clothing or sparingly on the skin. Dont apply it to the face or hands of children.
  • Treat clothing, tents, or other gear with repellents containing 0.5% permethrin.
  • Wear light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to see and remove ticks from your clothes.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots for added protection.

After you get home, check everything and everyone for ticks.

  • Bathe or shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks that have not attached to you.
  • Check your entire body for ticks. Use a mirror for places you cant see. Check your children and your pets. Common tick locations include the back of the knees, groin area, underarms, ears, scalp, and the back of the neck.
  • Check any gear you used, including coats, backpacks, or tents.

Tumble dry clothes or blankets on high heat in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes. This should kill any ticks. If clothes are dirty, wash them in hot water and dry on high heat for 60 minutes.

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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.

How Is Chronic Lyme Disease Diagnosed

How to know if you have Lyme disease

If youve had Lyme disease in the past and are still experiencing symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, rash, fever, chills, or body aches, its important to talk with your doctor as soon as possible about your experience.

Your doctor may order further testing to rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms. He or she may also ask about your personal medical history and the severity of your symptoms, and a physical examination may be performed.

Your doctor may also recommend that you have certain laboratory tests done. Most often, physicians use an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test to diagnose Lyme disease, but these tests can be unreliable and give false-positive results. If your ELISA test comes back positive, your doctor may confirm the results using a Western blot test, which detects the proteins your immune system makes to target the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

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Where Blacklegged Ticks Live

We continue to track where infected and uninfected blacklegged ticks are being found.

Public Health Ontarios Lyme disease page has a map that shows areas in Ontario where they estimate you are more likely to find blacklegged ticks.

Blacklegged ticks are spreading to new areas of the province because of climate change. They can also spread by traveling on birds and deer. While the probability is low, it is possible to find an infected tick almost anywhere in Ontario.

Ticks are most active in spring and summer, but can be found at any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing.

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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.

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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

A circular or oval shape rash around a tick bite can be an early symptom of Lyme disease in some people.

The rash can appear up to 3 months after being bitten by an infected tick, but usually appears within 1 to 4 weeks. It can last for several weeks.

The rash can have a darker or lighter area in the centre and might gradually spread. Its not usually hot or itchy.

The rash may be flat, or slightly raised, and look pink, red, or purple when it appears on white skin. It can be harder to see the rash on brown and black skin and it may look like a bruise.

Some people also get flu-like symptoms a few days or weeks after they were bitten by an infected tick, such as:

  • a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
  • tiredness and loss of energy

Some people with Lyme disease develop more severe symptoms months or years later.

This is more likely if treatment is delayed.

These more severe symptoms may include:

  • pain and swelling in joints
  • nerve problems such as pain or numbness
  • trouble with memory or concentration

Risk Factors For The Development Of Lyme Disease

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Where you live or vacation has an effect on whether you contract Lyme disease. Your profession and extracurricular outdoor activities also play a role in your risk factor for its development. The most common risk factors for its development are:

  • Spending time outdoors in wooded or grassy areas
  • Having exposed skin when working or playing outdoors
  • Failing to remove ticks promptly or properly

Many people dont initially realize that theyve been infected by a deer tick, and it may be weeks or months before they begin to realize that the signs and symptoms they are experiencing are in fact Lyme disease. Early detection is key to effective treatment if left unchecked, the complications and consequences of this disease could be severe. Knowing what to look for is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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The Chance Of Getting Lyme Disease

Not all ticks in England carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

But it’s still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.

Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.

Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures that live in woods, areas with long grass, and sometimes in urban parks and gardens. They’re found all over the UK.

Ticks do not jump or fly. They attach to the skin of animals or humans that brush past them.

Once a tick bites into the skin, it feeds on blood for a few days before dropping off.

What Is Late Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is disseminated through tick bites. Infected ticks usually bite small mammals, who do not develop any kind of infection from the bacteria. When humans are exposed to B. Burgdorferi from a tick bite, however, they can develop Lyme disease.

People who work outside or spend time in woodland areas, where there is greater potential for exposure to tick bites, are most at risk of infection.

Lyme disease is a condition which progresses in stages:

  • A person will initially develop early localized lyme disease, in which the bacteria have not yet spread through the body. At this stage, which generally has its onset days or weeks after the tick bite, a personâs symptoms will usually include a fever, fatigue, and a rash, called the Erythema Migrans rash, which has a distinctive bullsâ eye shape and affects around two thirds of people who develop Lyme disease. See this resource for more information on symptoms and treatment of early localized Lyme disease.
  • If Lyme disease is not diagnosed in either of these early stages, and is not treated effectively with antibiotics, the bacteria that cause LD can spread throughout the body from the site of the tick bite, resulting in late disseminated Lyme disease, or late lyme disease. The onset of symptoms and complications of late disseminated Lyme disease is usually around 6-36 months after the original infection.
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    How Do I Know If I Am Getting Tested Correctly For Lyme Disease

    So we have already established that it is difficult to detect the presence of Lyme disease. But, thankfully, techniques and private testing have been developed to circumvent these complexities .

    One technique is PCR which looks at Lyme antigens and the organisms DNA.

    While PCR can be effective for detecting Lyme disease, knowing how to give this test is also important. In order to get a good reading, your lymph system needs to be moving. To increase lymphatic movement, here at Neurvana Health, we may use infrared sauna, exercise, or simply therapeutic ultrasound on various areas of the body where we think the infection may be present. To detect its presence, we can review your symptoms and where you experience pain. So we may look at memory problems and use ultrasound on the temporal, upper cervical regions and down the spinal cord. We may also use it on the joints, gallbladder or spleen.

    What does the ultrasound do? Well, the infections have what we call Velcro proteins that allow them to attach to connective tissue. So the ultrasound breaks these proteins and the organisms get dispersed into the circulation where we can detect them. We can detect their DNA in blood or urine.

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    Who Is At Risk For Lyme Disease

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    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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    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.

    What Do You Do If Theres A Tick Under Your Skin

    Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to remove it as soon as possible. Pull upward with steady pressure. If parts of the tick are still in your skin, try to get those with the tweezers, too. After everything is out, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

    You probably wonât get infected if you remove the tick within 36 to 48 hours.

    How do you throw away a tick?

    Put it in soapy water or alcohol, stick it to a piece of tape, or flush it down the toilet.

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