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What Exactly Is Lyme Disease

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What To Do If You Have A Blacklegged Tick Bite

What Exactly is Lyme Disease?

Remove the tick by pulling it directly out with fine-tipped tweezers. Lift upward with slow and even pressure. Dont twist when removing it. Dont crush it or put soap or other substances on it. Dont apply heat to it.

Place the tick in a resealable container. See if you can identify what kind of a tick it is.

Immediately after removing the tick, wash your skin well with soap and water or with rubbing alcohol.

Not all ticks carry Lyme. The Lyme bacteria is transmitted only by blacklegged ticks in their nymph or adult stage.

Save the tick to show your doctor. The doctor will want to determine if its a blacklegged tick and if theres evidence of feeding. Ticks enlarge as they feed. Your risk of getting Lyme from an infected tick increases with the length of time that the tick fed on your blood.


Pull the tick out with tweezers and save it in a resealable container for identification.

What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease signs and symptoms can appear in stages.

Early signs and symptoms include:

  • A small, red bump that looks like a mosquito bite.
  • A red rash that may be clear in the middle, like a bulls eye pattern. The rash may spread and be warm to the touch, although its usually not itchy.
  • Fever or chills.

Later signs and symptoms include:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness.
  • A rash that appears on other parts of the body.
  • Joint pain and swelling, especially in the knees.
  • Facial palsy, which causes drooping on one or both sides of the face.
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat .
  • Dizziness or shortness of breath.
  • Nerve pain, or numbness or tingling in your limbs.

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

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Valerie & Elissa Johnson Race Organizers

From left: Valerie and Elissa Johnson

As they watched their mother struggle with Lyme disease, Valerie Johnson and her sister Elissa felt they had to do something. Their mom Lois had been bitten by a tick in the backyard of her Amherst home, but her doctor did not think she had Lyme disease. Eventually, her worsening symptoms drove her to seek treatment from another doctor, who prescribed antibiotics.

Lois, who is now 70, has had every kind of treatment you can imagine, Eastern and Western, Valerie says. Prior to the tick bite shed been healthy and super active, but Lyme disease has changed her completely, Valerie says. Its changed our family dynamic.

Lois has her good days, but mostly continues to suffer with symptoms that include chronic fatigue, debilitating headaches, body aches, chills, and a pins-and-needles sensation under her skin. It also really messes with her stomach, Valerie says, and there are days when shes very weak. She spent the past Christmas sick in bed and on the couch.

The expense of Lois medical care quickly added up, and ultimately forced her and her husband to sell their home.

Many people were shocked when we told them what happened to my mom, Valerie says. Wed sometimes hear Gosh, I thought Lyme disease was just something that dogs got. So it was very obvious that there were other people who needed help, and there was a big need for education and prevention.

For more information, look for Lois Race Against Lyme on Facebook.

A Quick Checklist Of Lyme Disease Symptoms

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Lyme disease is not just a bug bite. It can be a debilitating disease that affects every aspect of your life. Especially if Lyme disease is diagnosed late. While advanced Lyme disease may take longer to treat, most people recover completely.

The symptoms of early, late, and chronic Lyme disease may cross over to many other illnesses, its important to understand how you can get Lyme disease and what the various symptoms are so you can stay healthy.

Many of the following symptoms of Lyme disease are indicative or common in other illnesses. That said, the more symptoms of Lyme disease you have, the greater the need to have your illness evaluated.

Read Also: What Percentage Of Ticks Carry Lyme Disease

How Is Lyme Disease In Dogs Diagnosed

Your veterinarian will assess your dogs symptoms, give them a physical, and typically also do bloodwork to determine their diagnosis. Bloodwork is necessary to confirm a Lyme diagnosis because many symptoms of Lyme disease can be mistaken for any number of other conditions.

Lyme disease in dogs is diagnosed through a blood test, Dr. Margit Muller, veterinarian and , tells Pumpkin. She further explains, This test detects the presence of antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria strain that causes Lyme disease.

A combination of two blood tests is typically done: the C6 Test and the Quant C6 Test. The C6 Test detects antibodies, and is a preliminary blood test that can be run in most veterinary hospitals. If that test is positive, then a secondary test, the Quant C6 test, can be run to confirm infection and if treatment is needed. It takes a while for antibodies to show up in the blood after a dog is infected, so it is not recommended to test dogs earlier than four weeks after a tick bite.

Life Cycle Of B Burgdorferi

The primary vector of Lyme disease in the northeastern and north central United States is the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. The primary vector in the Pacific coastal area of the country is I.pacificus. Ticks go through four stages in their development , and B. burgdorferi is maintained in ticks as they pass from one stage to the next. When an infected tick bites a human or certain animals , the infectious agent can be transmitted, resulting in disease. Wild rodents and deer are part of the natural life cycle of B. burgdorferi. Infected larval and nymphal ticks feed on small mammals while adult ticks feed on deer. The explosive repopulation of white-tailed deer in parts of the United States has been linked to the spread of Lyme disease. The majority of human Lyme disease cases result from bites by infected nymphs. At this stage the tick is small, less easily detected, and less likely to be promptly removed, which increases the possibility that it will transmit disease. Dogs, cattle, and horses develop disease that may include the joint and heart complications seen in humans. A vaccine is available for dogs, which in addition to protecting them, has a beneficial public health impact by decreasing the proximity of this disease to people. There is no evidence that Lyme disease has been transmitted directly from animal-to-animal, animal-to-human, or human-to-human.

Read Also: Lyme Vaccine For Dogs Side Effects

Should You Go Keto To Combat Lyme

More studies need to be done that test this diet on patients with Lyme, but for now I feel its a safe and effective way to support your body through the process of healing Lyme. Many of the pathways implicated in Lyme disease are also modulated with a high-fat, low-carb keto diet. Because of this, in my practice I put almost all my patients with Lyme on some form of Ketotarian diet. Depending on how severe your Lyme disease is, I suggest seeking out a Lyme-savvy functional medicine practitioner whos familiar with Lyme and low-carb, high-fat diets like the Keto diet.

As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe.

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

Our articles may include products that have been independently chosen and recommended by Dr. Will Cole and our editors. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.


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Dana Biscotti Myskowski Screenwriter

What Does Lyme Disease Do To Your Body?

If you like your murder mysteries presented in a BBC style with a Lyme disease plot twist, Dana Biscotti Myskowski has got a story for you.

Myskowski, a 53-year-old screenwriter who resides in Henniker, has lived with Lyme disease symptoms since 2005. She wrote I Cannot Play with You, her first novel, to entertain as well as educate.

Like many others with Lyme disease, Myskowski found an accurate diagnosis for her illness tough to come by. At one point a doctor thought Myskowski might have stage-four bladder cancer. The doctor and the nurse both commented that they had never seen that much blood in a urine sample, Myskowski says. Test results came back negative though good news, except that the doctor had no idea what was wrong.

Award-winning screenwriter and Emmy-nominated producer Dana Biscotti Myskowski used her experiences as a survivor of several bouts of Lyme to craft her first novel about a Lyme-infected investigator on the trail of a murderer.

It wasnt until 2013 that Myskowski was finally diagnosed with Lyme, after an infection from a splinter landed her in the emergency room.

The next morning, after taking heavy-duty antibiotics, I felt better than Id felt in years, Myskowski says. She had noticed similar improvement when she received antibiotics for bronchitis and for pneumonia conditions shed never had before being bitten by a tick. Her doctor connected the dots and came up with the Lyme diagnosis.

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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.

Borrelia Burgdorferi Infectious Cycle

The infectious cycle of B burgdorferi involves colonization, infection of Ixodes ticks, and then transmission to broad a range of mammalian hosts, including humans. Variation in environmental and host conditions promotes different gene expression and changes in the composition of the membrane proteins of the spirochete. This adaptation is a critical step in the pathogenesis and transmission of Lyme disease.

The Ixodes tick progresses through four stages of development: egg, larva, nymph, and adult . Only larvae, nymphs, and adult female ticks require blood meals, and only ticks in the nymphal and adult stages can transmit B burgdorferi.

The life cycle of Ixodes ticks spans 2 years . The adult lays eggs in the spring, and the larvae emerge in the summer. The larvae feed once, in late summer, on any of a wide variety of small animals . The following spring, the larvae emerge as nymphs. Nymphs feed once, in the spring and summer. The white-footed mouse is the preferred feeding source of nymphs, but other animals apparently suffice. Nymphs molt into adults the following fall and feed once on a larger animal, with the white-tailed deer being the preferred host.

Ticks carry B burgdorferi organisms in their midgut. The bacteria are introduced into the skin by a bite from an infected tick, and disease is transmitted to humans as the spirochete is translocated from the gut to the salivary glands and then to the person at the site of the bite.

Also Check: Can Lyme Disease Cause Memory Loss

Treatment For Lyme Disease

In most cases, two to four weeks of antibiotics is an effective form of treatment. Depending on the severity, you may need to stay on antibiotics for a longer period of time.

If you find a tick on your skin, remove it as quickly and completely as possible to help prevent infection. If you have been bitten or experience symptoms of Lyme disease, see your doctor right away. The earlier you see your doctor, the easier the disease will be to diagnose and treat.

Scott Flanders Tattoo Artist

Lyme Disease: Painful, Long

Is a tattoo shop an unlikely place to promote social causes? Scott Flanders clearly doesnt think so.

Flanders, 39, a tattoo artist and owner of Capital City Tattoo in Concord, regularly participates in initiatives that benefit others among them, a tattoo marathon called Ink to End Lyme. Dozens of tattoo shops across the country take part in the event Flanders says proceeds go to a nonprofit organization called Lyme Warrior to fund Lyme disease research. The turnout for the marathon, he says, gets better and better every year.

Flanders, who does not have Lyme disease, says he has family members and friends who do, and he wants to help them as well as others who suffer from the disease. So, each year he holds a tattoo marathon at his shop, usually for around eight hours, but often longer to accommodate people who want to participate but cant make it in during official marathon hours.

Customers who wish to take part in the marathon may choose a Lyme-related tattoo such as a tick, bulls-eye , remembrance ribbon or custom design.

Some of customers who participate in the marathon at Capital City Tattoo have Lyme disease, Flanders says, while others get tattoos in honor of friends or family members who have the disease. Some simply want to show their support for the cause.

Recommended Reading: How Long Lyme Disease Last

Stage : Early Localized Disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease usually start 1 to 2 weeks after the tick bite. One of the earliest signs of the disease is a bulls-eye rash.

The rash occurs at the site of the tick bite, usually, but not always, as a central red spot surrounded by a clear spot with an area of redness at the edge. It may be warm to the touch, but it isnt painful and doesnt itch. This rash will gradually fade in most people.

The formal name for this rash is erythema migrans. Erythema migrans is said to be characteristic of Lyme disease. However, many people dont have this symptom.

Some people have a rash thats solid red, while people with dark complexions may have a rash that resembles a bruise.

The rash can occur with or without systemic viral or flu-like symptoms.

Other symptoms commonly seen in this stage of Lyme disease include:

What Is Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection you get from the bite of an infected tick. At first, Lyme disease usually causes symptoms such as a rash, fever, headache, and fatigue. But if it is not treated early, the infection can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. Prompt treatment can help you recover quickly.

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Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease

Diagnosis is currently based on clinical findings supported by several types of laboratory tests. One type of test seeks to isolate the actual organism from the EM skin lesion, blood, joints, and cerebrospinal fluid. Other types of tests attempt to detect antibodies formed by the patients immune system against the organism. Currently, serology tests are poorly standardized and physicians must interpret them with caution. They are insensitive during the first several weeks of infection and may remain negative in people treated early with antibiotics. Test sensitivity increases when patients progress to later stages of the disease, but a small proportion of Lyme disease patients never develop a positive blood test result. Another complicating factor is that there can be a cross-reaction in the blood test, giving a false positive result for Lyme disease in persons who really have conditions such as syphilis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, human immunodeficiency virus infection, infectious mononucleosis, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Although present diagnostics are not perfect, great strides have been made in the past twenty years. More sensitive and specific tests for Lyme disease are being developed.

What You Can Do

Testing for Lyme DiseaseWhat You Need to Know

Be aware of the source of environmental toxins, watch and choose what you eat, drink clean, purified water, and of course check for ticks. Full-spectrum infrared sauna therapy is a wonderful therapy, as it is an easy way to reverse the detoxification challenge, and also aid in raising the core temperature and oxygenate the bloodstream to a level that can actually kill the microbes. Dry brushing, lymph stimulation along with gentle exercise, are other easy ways to help relieve symptoms and aid in the recovery process.

Every Lyme patient is different ,and has different challenges and needs, making it of utmost importance to create a team of Lyme literate, understanding professionals to help you find wellness once again.

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