You Have More Than One Symptom
Lyme disease is a multisystemic illness. That means that people dont usually complain of just one symptom, but instead notice a cluster of symptoms, such as:
- Chest pain with palpitations
- Psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety
Others may also complain of day sweats, night sweats and chills, as well as shortness of breath, with an unexplained cough if they have contracted babesiosis. A different tick-borne infection than Lyme disease, babesiosis can be transmitted with the same tick bite. Its a malaria-type parasite which makes people much sicker and difficult to treat with resistant symptoms.
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Who’s At Risk And Where Are Ticks Found
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
Ticks are found throughout the UK and in other parts of Europe and North America. There are a high number of ticks in the Scottish Highlands.
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.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
With early-stage Lyme disease, youâll take antibiotics for about 10 days to 3 weeks. The most common ones are amoxicillin, cefuroxime, and doxycycline. The antibiotics will almost always cure your infection. If they donât, you might get other antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot.
If you donât treat your Lyme infection, you might need oral antibiotics for symptoms like weakened face muscles and irregular heartbeat. You may need antibiotics if you have meningitis, inflammation in your brain and spinal cord, or more severe heart problems.
If your Lyme is late stage, the doctor might give you antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot. If it causes arthritis, youâll get arthritis treatment.
Thereâs no therapy for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
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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.
How To Diagnose Lyme Disease
The diagnosis of Lyme disease is not easy. Infection-carrying ticks are fewer in number, and their bites are usually not painful. This makes it difficult for the patients to recollect being bitten by the ticks. Furthermore, most of the symptoms are shared by different disorders.
- If you locate a tick in your skin, you should remove it immediately with tweezers making sure the entire tick is extracted.
- Wait a few days to see if any symptoms appear. If they do, you must contact your primary care physician and discuss your symptoms.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you have been ill for four weeks or longer. The doctor will examine the bite, search for a rash, and order blood tests to determine the presence of Lyme disease.
Special testing may be required for those who have joint swelling or nervous system disorders. The doctor may need to draw fluid from the swollen joint or the spine to look for signs of the illness.
However, these are not always required to make a diagnosis. They frequently produce false findings, particularly in early-stage Lyme disease.
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What Are The Long
Lyme disease can cause a host ofdifferent symptoms and ailments, but if caught early, it can be diagnosed andtreated with antibiotics specifically doxycycline. If left untreated, however, Lyme disease canprogress into a very serious condition that can affect a person for the rest oftheir life.
Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is categorized as a condition lasting over a period of months or evenyears that affects people who have been treated for Lyme disease withantibiotics. The disorder comes with awide array of different issues, including trouble with sleeping, chronicfatigue, and neurological problems such as confusion and even cognitivechanges.
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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
To prevent Lyme disease, you should lower your risk of getting a tick bite:
- Avoid areas where ticks live, such as grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. If you are hiking, walk in the center of the trail to avoid brush and grass.
- Use an insect repellent with DEET
- Treat your clothing and gear with a repellant containing 0.5% permethrin
- Wear light-colored protective clothing, so you can easily see any ticks that get on you
- Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants. Also tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks.
- Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks. Carefully remove any ticks you find.
- Take a shower and wash and dry your clothes at high temperatures after being outdoors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
Since Lyme disease can take different forms, and since its often confused with other conditions, its important to be proactive if you suspect the condition. What signs prompt medical help? Call the healthcare provider if:
- You have a bullseye rashor any kind of rashfollowing a tick bite.
- You experience flu-like symptoms after a tick bite.
- You experience symptoms of more advanced Lyme disease: arthritis, heart palpitations, facial paralysis, dizziness, and others.
Treating What You Dont Know
The other big question is how to treat something with a cause that cant be identified.
Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed on the theory that B. burgdorferi might still be hiding out in the body somewhere. However, although there have been anecdotal short-term successes, Marques said no studies have shown sustained benefits from antibiotics to people with chronic Lyme disease or those with post-Lyme disease syndrome.
The majority of people who contract Lyme and are treated for it with a course of antibiotics do get better with time.
But those who dont 10 to 20 percent, according to Marques review of the research fall into the post-Lyme disease syndrome category.
Those people continue to experience persistent or intermittent symptoms a year after completing the antibiotics therapy.
Children appear less likely to develop long-term symptoms as are those who dont delay antibiotics or have less severe cases of Lyme in the first place.
In cases of chronic Lyme, people who test negative for the disease despite symptoms could be infected with another tick-borne illness or have an autoimmune disorder or other problem.
How to treat these long-term symptoms is still a mystery.
For now, Marques and her team are working on identifying biomarkers and other ways to find out definitively whether Lyme disease is to blame for the symptoms.
That additional research is becoming more critical.
Researchers have predicted higher tick numbers in some parts of the country this summer.
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Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Here, the stages of one and two can overlap. As the bacteria continues to spread, the rash may also spread to other areas of the body. Neurological symptoms may begin to affect the nervous system and heart. Other symptoms can include:
- Multiple erythema migrans skin lesions
- Pain and numbness in the legs or arms
- Inability to move muscles of the face
- Headaches and fainting continue to occur
- Inability to concentrate and loss of short-term memory
- Pinkeye can occur due to damage to the tissue of the eyes
- Brief moments of joint pain, including swelling and redness of the knees or other joints
- Heart problems can develop such as palpitations of the heart
Should you or a loved one be experiencing any of the following symptoms and are in an area known for cases of Lyme disease or have been bitten by a tick, it is important that you seek medical care from your doctor to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
How Should A Tick Be Removed
Grasp the mouthparts with tweezers as close as possible to the attachment site. Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids. Pull firmly and steadily upward to remove the tick. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands. The NYSDOH has created a video on proper tick removal and a printable card with steps on how to remove ticks . See or call a doctor if there are concerns about incomplete tick removal. Do not attempt to remove ticks by using petroleum jelly, lit cigarettes or other home remedies because these may actually increase the chance of contracting a tick-borne disease.
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Untreated Lyme Disease Frequency
Its difficult to get exact numbers when it comes to Lyme disease, in part because theres only limited accounting of the conditions frequency overall, and its often misdiagnosed or mistaken for other conditions.
Currently, its estimated that 476,000 people develop it in the United States every year, with 81% of the cases clustered in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions.
A significantbut shrinkingproportion of those with the disease end up progressing without treatment. Current estimates are hard to come by. In 2012, researchers estimated that about 16% of Lyme disease cases present without rashincreasing the chance that the case is missed, overall. From 1.6% to 7% of all infections have no symptoms.
Knowledge and awareness of this disease have grown over the past couple of decades, greatly improving outcomes. This improving prognosis is associated with better care and detection, leading to timelier intervention.
If you live in a hot spot area for black-legged ticks, never hesitate to reach out to your healthcare professional if youre feeling sick or have a rash.
Stage : Late Persistent Lyme Disease
This stage can occur weeks, months and even years after the time of infection. This stage happens when you have not sought medical care and have not been treated in the previous stages. This is the most dangerous and last stage of the disease. The following symptoms may occur at this stage:
- The knees can become affected by arthritis
- Chronic fatigue
- Numb feeling in the feet, hands or back
- No control over facial muscles
- Memory issues and mood changes
- Heart problems such as inflammation of the structures surrounding the heart
It is important to note that stage two and three may be the first stages you notice, if infected. This is because some people do not develop the rash. When to see a doctor
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Early symptoms of Lyme disease start between 3 to 30 days after an infected tick bites you. The symptoms can include:
- A red rash called erythema migrans . Most people with Lyme disease get this rash. It gets bigger over several days and may feel warm. It is usually not painful or itchy. As it starts to get better, parts of it may fade. Sometimes this makes the rash look like a “bull’s-eye.”
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
If the infection is not treated, it can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. The symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of your body
- Facial palsy, which is a weakness in your facial muscles. It can cause drooping on one or both sides of your face.
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, especially in your knees and other large joints
- Pain that comes and goes in your tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations, which are feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, pounding, or beating too hard or too fast
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
How To Spot And Remove Ticks
Once youve come in from outside, one of the best ways to check yourself for ticks is to take a shower and bath.
Other than that, do your best to check your clothes, especially the folds of your clothes, knowing that ticks can be very small and hard to spot. Running your hands through your hair is also a good idea.
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What Should I Do If I Am Bitten By A Tick
If you experience a tick bite, the best way to remove it is by taking the following steps:
- Tug gently but firmly with blunt tweezers near the “head” of the tick at the level of your skin until it releases its hold on the skin.
- Avoid crushing the tick’s body or handling the tick with bare fingers as you could exposure yourself to the bacteria in the tick.
- Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water.
- DO NOT use kerosene, petroleum jelly , or hot cigarette butts to remove the tick.
- DO NOT squeeze the tick’s body with your fingers or tweezers.
What Can A Workplace Or Home Do To Reduce The Presence Of Ticks
Keep the lawn and yard well maintained to prevent ticks from living near the home or workplace.
- Keep the grass mowed. Trim trees and shrubs.
- Remove leaf litter, brush, and weeds at the edge of the lawn, and around stonewalls and woodpiles.
- Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home to help discourage rodents.
- Keep stacked firewood piles and bird feeders away from buildings.
- Keep any pets, particularly dogs, out of the woods and talk to your veterinarian about tick repellents for your pets.
- Move children’s swing sets and sandboxes away from the woodland’s edge and use a woodchip or mulch foundation.
- Consider using hard landscape items such as woodchips, mulch, stones, gravel, tile, or metals.
- Create a border or barrier between the lawn, woods, or stonewalls to discourage deer and rodent activity.
- Widen woodland trails.
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Stage : Early Localised Lyme Disease
The symptoms for this stage normally begin within a few days to weeks after infection from the tick bite. In some cases of Lyme disease, you may not notice signs of infection during this stage.
The bacteria begin to multiply in the bloodstream, with the first sign being that of a red, circular rash. It might look a lot like a bulls eye.
This rash will develop at the site of the tick bite. It is not painful or itchy, just warm to touch. It is known as erythema migrans and will most likely disappear within four weeks.
With or without the rash, you may develop flu-like symptoms. These can include:
- A loss of energy
- Vision changes
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
The key to Lyme disease is prevention and this requires an interprofessional team approach. All healthcare workers including the nurse practitioner, pharmacist, and primary care provider should provide patient education on measures to prevent tick bites while hiking or working outdoors. In areas where ticks are common, cleaning up of the environment by removing the underbrush and spraying an insecticide may reduce the tick burden in the area. The outdoors person should be told to wear appropriate garments and be familiar with the skin features of the tick bite. The nurse should educate the patient on how to remove the tick from the skin and when to seek medical assistance. The pharmacist should educate the patient on medication compliance for those who have been confirmed to have acquired Lyme disease.
Nurses should educate parents how to inspect their children for ticks at the end of an outdoor event, in an endemic area. While there are many repellants on the market, it is best to avoid them as the risk of harm is greater than any benefit. If one is going to use a repellant, DEET is the one product that is safe, however, it is not 100% effective. finally, the pharmacist should educate the patient about the harms of taking prophylactic doxycycline a better strategy is to remove the tick as soon as it is visualized.
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Your Symptoms Improve When Youre Taking Medication For Other Ailments
Patients taking antibiotics for an unrelated problem , will often report that their symptoms are much better while taking the antibiotic, and worsen when the antibiotic is stopped. Conversely, some individuals feel much worse on antibiotics, where all of their symptoms are intensified. This is called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, where the Lyme bacteria are being killed off, and temporarily worsen the underlying symptoms.
What Should I Do If I Find A Tick On My Child
Don’t panic. First Lyme disease is spread by the black-legged tick, not by the larger and more-common dog tick. The risk of developing Lyme disease after a black-legged tick bite is low, especially if the tick has been attached for a short time.
If you find a tick on your child, remove it using a fine-tipped pair of tweezers. Grasp the body of the tick and pull in an upward motion until the tick comes out. Do not squeeze or twist the ticks body. Take note of the ticks size and color, and how long you think it has been attached to your child.
If your child has been bitten by a black-legged tick that has been attached for more than 24 hours and you are in a Lyme disease endemic area, consult with your pediatrician. In some cases, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease from developing.
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