Key facts you need to know about Lyme disease to keep you safe and protected include the nature and cause of Lyme disease, its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, long-term effects, and its prevention.
Lyme disease causes long-term health problems that can affect your future. It would be helpful to know some facts about Lyme disease for immediate diagnosis and treatment, as well as ways to avoid it. Here are some important things you need to know about Lyme disease:
Nature and cause of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection transmitted to human beings through a bite of an infected tick. It is caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi that enters your body at the site of the bite and spreads throughout the body including your brain, muscles, heart, and other organs. It got its name after some kids in the United States got infected with the disease in Lyme, Connecticut sometime in 1975.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
It could be possible that you will show no signs of Lyme disease at all until you reach the later stage. For many, symptoms of Lyme Disease occur a few weeks to a month after the tick bite and include a red rash, called a bull’s eye rash, that appears at the site of the tick bite. You will also start to develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pains, and fatigue. Later on, your lymph glands may swell and you may feel numbness in your arms and legs. Other more serious complications will later occur if Lyme disease is not immediately diagnosed and treated.
Diagnosis of Lyme Disease
Once you show symptoms of Lyme disease and you know you have been bitten by a tick, do not hesitate to visit your doctor for proper diagnosis. The doctor will first visually inspect if you have developed a rash at the site of the tick bite. If a rash does not manifest, but you develop flu-like symptoms days or weeks after the tick bite, the doctor will conduct a blood test two to five weeks after the tick bite and see if you have developed antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Earlier blood tests may not be useful as your immune system usually takes two to five weeks to respond to such bacterial infection.
Treatment of Lyme Disease
After Lyme disease has been diagnosed, the doctor will then give you medications to treat the infection. During the early stage, antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, doxycycline, or cefuroxime axetil, will usually treat Lyme disease, when taken for three to four weeks. For worse cases, more than one antibiotic may be prescribed and may be given intravenously for faster effect.
Long-term effects and complications of Lyme Disease
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated immediately, you will experience more serious complications that will affect your heart and your nervous system. These include congestive heart failure, heart rhythm irregularities, memory loss, meningitis, numbness of your arms and legs, and paralysis of the face or Bell’s Palsy. You may also develop chronic arthritis and inflammation of the eyes.
Prevention of Lyme disease
In order to avoid being infected with Lyme disease, the following tips can help you:
* When hiking and going camping, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants preferably tucked in your socks, and a hat.
* Remember that ticks are mostly found in woody and grassy areas so it is best to avoid these high-risk areas especially during late spring, summer, and early fall.
*Use insect repellents with DEET compound to help prevent tick bites.
*Constantly check your body for ticks while outdoors or after participating in outdoor activities. It is most important to get rid of ticks immediately since research shows that Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria cannot be passed on to your body unless the tick has been attached to your skin for more than 24 hours.
Not all ticks, though, are carriers of Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, and the existence of Lyme disease should not stop you from going hiking or engaging in other outdoor activities. What is important is that you know how to prevent the infection, learn about its symptoms, and immediately consult your doctor when symptoms start to show up.