What is Lyme disease? Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatments

What is Lyme disease? Symptoms, treatment, and prevention

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease (LD) is a bacterial infection spread through the bite of an infected tick, typically the blacklegged tick (or deer tick). The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary in length and severity, but can include any or all of the following symptoms (short-term and long-term): chills, fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, facial paralysis or meningitis. In rare cases, Lyme disease can even be fatal if left untreated.

Lyme disease, also known as borreliosis, is an infection caused by bacteria from the Borrelia burgdorferi family. The illness gets its name from Lyme, Connecticut, where several cases were reported in 1975. Since then, the disease has spread across North America, Europe and even parts of Asia. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of 200 new cases of Lyme disease are reported each year in the United States alone.

An infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme disease can affect animals and humans. If you’re experiencing the symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible to avoid the long-term complications that can occur if left untreated.

Lyme infection symptoms:

If you think you might have contracted Lyme disease, there are a number of symptoms that may point towards infection. These include:

The first symptoms of infection include tick bites, as well as flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue and aching joints. Early symptoms also include neck stiffness, muscle pain and headaches. If left untreated, more serious long-term issues can arise including heart problems, memory loss and speech disorders.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you start treatment, the better your long-term prognosis will be. Untreated infection can develop into serious health problems that are difficult to treat or reverse once they occur.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with Lyme disease, there are a number of ways in which you can treat it. The most common treatment for early-stage infection is antibiotics. A course of anti-inflammatories may also be given to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation. In later stages of infection, antibiotics will only have a limited effect and stronger treatments such as corticosteroids may be required.

Causes of Lyme disease:

Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. The ticks attach themselves to a person’s skin and can cause an infection if left attached for too long. If you remove them within 36 hours, you are unlikely to develop a tick-borne illness; however, if they remain attached for longer than 36 hours there’s a chance that you could develop Lyme or other illnesses such as babesiosis or anaplasmosis.

Untreated Lyme can develop into a chronic infection that can spread to different parts of your body. The severity of these symptoms depends on whether or not you receive antibiotics. If left untreated for more than 30 days, it’s possible for symptoms to reoccur for weeks or months afterwards. This makes it difficult to tell if your condition has actually cleared up completely.

The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a circular rash at the site of your tick bite. This red rash can grow larger over time. Other symptoms include headaches, chills, fever, joint pain, muscle aches and fatigue.

You can protect yourself from ticks by avoiding areas that may be infested with them. You should check your entire body after spending time in grassy or wooded areas to see if you have any ticks attached to you. If you do find one, remove it as soon as possible. If you need help removing a tick there are plenty of ways that you can do so without using forceps or other tools which might injure you.

Early signs of Lyme disease:

There are a number of early signs of Lyme disease. These include rashes, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, and muscle aches. Many people mistake these early signs for other conditions such as allergies or other bacterial infections. However by taking an accurate temperature reading you can rule out many common colds or flu-like viruses that cause similar symptoms to those of an actual case of Lyme disease.

If you are experiencing these symptoms it is a good idea to consult with your doctor immediately. If you do have an early case of Lyme disease then you will need to be treated in order to fully cure yourself from any negative symptoms that result from it. Treatment for those diagnosed with early cases of Lyme disease can range from multiple medications to over-the-counter drugs like aspirin.

Some other treatments that have been found to be effective against early cases of Lyme disease include anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids. Doctors may also prescribe antibiotics such as tetracycline or amoxicillin in order to treat early cases of Lyme Disease. While these are considered relatively safe they should only be taken with a doctor’s permission because they can cause serious side effects in some patients. Anti-inflammatory drugs are another common treatment method used by doctors when treating a patient with an early case of Lyme disease.

Anti-inflammatory drugs can be bought over-the-counter at most pharmacies. However it is important to note that they are often not as effective against a serious case of Lyme disease as they are in curing an early case. These drugs can also cause unpleasant side effects such as upset stomachs, diarrhea or even high blood pressure if taken for long periods of time.

Top risk factors for contracting Lyme disease:

Lyme disease may cause many risk factors; including:

  • Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, can carry several serious diseases, including Anaplasmosis and Borrelia miyamotoi.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year.
  • Deer ticks are small — they measure just a fraction of an inch in length — so it can be hard to spot them. They’re active from spring through fall, especially during June and July when they’re most active.

How common is Lyme?

According to recent research, there are between 300,000 and 400,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year in America. This means that approximately 1 out of every 20 people in your area could have (or has had) Lyme. But what can we do about it? We’ll get into that. First let’s find out how you can keep yourself safe.

This can be hard to pin down for a number of reasons. For one, it’s still commonly misdiagnosed by medical professionals. This has been a problem for years, but it’s getting better with wider availability of accurate tests and increased training for doctors and other healthcare providers. In fact, some early research even suggests that almost half of Lyme disease cases go undiagnosed!

Another reason why it’s hard to determine exactly how common Lyme disease is has to do with geography. It’s most commonly found in North America, where it originated, but it can also be found on every continent (except Antarctica). So its prevalence will vary depending on where you live. This makes a big difference when talking about an illness like Lyme disease that has such significant regional variations.

Research has found that there are regions where Lyme disease is especially common. In fact, some areas have up to 20 times more cases than others. For example, your risk of getting Lyme disease in Western Massachusetts is 5-10 times higher than it would be if you lived in New York City or Washington DC.

So what’s it like in those high-risk areas? How many people have been diagnosed with Lyme disease there, and why do doctors think they have a higher risk of infection in these regions? Let’s take a look.

In parts of New England, like Rhode Island and Connecticut, up to 30% of residents have been diagnosed with Lyme disease at some point in their lives. This is at least five times higher than what you might expect elsewhere in America.

It’s not just that it’s more common in these areas, but it’s also more likely to be severe. According to new research, people living in New England are three times more likely than those living elsewhere in America to develop complications from their infections.

Diagnosing and treating:

If you or a loved one are showing symptoms of Lyme disease, it’s important to speak with your doctor. A medical professional can accurately diagnose an infection and offer proper treatment methods based on lab results.

There are three stages in which you may experience symptoms of Lyme disease:

  • Early localized (Stage 1)
  • Early disseminated (Stage 2); and
  • Late disseminated (Stage 3).

The first two stages have higher cure rates than Stage 3, so it’s important not to wait before seeking treatment.

If a tick has been attached for less than 36 hours, your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic that should kill any bacteria and prevent infection. If a tick has been attached for more than 36 hours, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible because waiting can increase your risk of developing Lyme disease symptoms.

These antibiotics are usually taken over a period of two weeks but can also be combined with other treatments (such as hydrotherapy) if needed.

If you show symptoms of Stage 1 or 2, your doctor will typically prescribe an oral antibiotic for a period of two weeks. If these are not effective, your doctor may suggest a course of IV antibiotics for several weeks.

If these treatments fail to improve your symptoms, it’s likely that you have developed late stage Lyme disease. Your doctor will recommend treatment with IV antibiotics until all traces of bacteria are gone from your body, which can take between three and six months.

Since there’s no specific test that can determine whether or not you have Lyme disease, it’s important to visit your doctor for any symptoms that resemble it. Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to issues like arthritis, facial paralysis and heart problems in Stage 3. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you suspect you might have been exposed to ticks and want more information about prevention and treatment options.

Preventing Lyme disease through tick control:

The best way to prevent catching and spreading Lyme disease through ticks is by avoiding contact with them. It’s possible, even likely, that you will come across a tick or two in your lifetime. But if you keep an eye out for them, you can avoid their bites and any problems they might cause.

If you’re bitten by a tick and start feeling sick, you should contact your doctor immediately. If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease and want help getting rid of it as quickly as possible, there are effective treatments available.

Following these tips for avoiding ticks can help you keep Lyme disease at bay. If you do end up with Lyme disease, get treatment and start recovery as soon as possible. While it can be a serious illness, there are treatments available to help you manage symptoms and move past your diagnosis. If you’re sick because of a tick bite, don’t delay getting help — as in all things health-related, time is of the essence!

There are a few other tick-borne diseases that can affect humans, though they’re much less common than Lyme disease. While they are related to Lyme disease in many ways, you won’t find them as commonly in Minnesota.

If you’re planning a trip through areas with ticks, or if you live in a high-risk area, it might be worth your time to read up on these diseases. They are just as serious as Lyme disease and will require immediate medical attention. If you have any concerns about tick bites or other tick-borne illnesses, talk with your doctor right away. It might be worth getting tested for ticks before going camping or spending time outside — especially if you live in an area where they are prevalent.

Preventing tick bites can help you avoid a lot of problems. Whether you’re spending time in Minnesota or somewhere else, it’s important to be safe when outdoors. Staying vigilant and following these tips for preventing ticks can help keep your family and friends free from tick-borne diseases.

Now that you know how to prevent tick bites, make it a priority. Use these tips for reducing your risk and stay safe in areas where ticks are common. If you’re ever bitten by a tick or suspect that you have Lyme disease, get medical attention immediately. The sooner you get treated, the easier it will be to manage your symptoms and move on with your life. Protect yourself from Lyme disease so that you can spend time outdoors enjoying Minnesota!

Facts about Lyme disease:

Lyme disease is an infectious illness caused by Borrelia bacteria. It’s transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected blacklegged tick. In 2012, nearly 30,000 cases of Lyme disease were reported in 49 states (except Hawaii).

A tick must feed on your blood for at least 24 hours to transmit Borrelia bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a repellent with at least 20% DEET on exposed skin. If you plan to spend time outdoors in tick-infested areas, consider long pants tucked into socks as additional protection.

It can be difficult to spot a tick on your body. Look for ticks in hidden places such as between fingers or toes, behind ears, around belts or waistbands, in armpits or hair. Check yourself and others frequently while outdoors. Ticks are often attached for 24-48 hours before you feel symptoms of infection. Early removal is essential to prevent infection. Follow your doctor’s instructions for removing a tick carefully.

If symptoms persist for more than a few days or worsen after several weeks, see your doctor. It’s possible you may be suffering from another illness.

Effective treatments are available. Antibiotics that treat Lyme disease include doxycycline (Vibramycin), amoxicillin (Amoxil), cefuroxime axetil (Ceftin) and azithromycin (Zithromax). Your doctor will recommend one based on your symptoms. Some people may need to take a combination of antibiotics for 30 days or more to cure infection. You should always talk with your doctor before stopping any medication.

Living with late stage Lyme disease:

It’s hard to imagine that one can live with a disease like late stage Lyme disease. It’s much easier to think of it as a short term issue that can be treated with antibiotics. What you may not realize though is that many people live with symptoms of late stage Lyme for years on end. Let’s talk about what you need to know about living with late stage Lyme disease.

The symptoms of late stage Lyme disease can be debilitating. If you are living with these symptoms then it’s important to seek help right away. It’s important that you know what signs to look for so that you can catch an infection early on when antibiotics are most effective. If you have been bitten by a tick, see your doctor as soon as possible so they can do a test to find out if your health is at risk from late stage Lyme disease.

If you’re having issues breathing, if you are weak or feel like you have no energy to get up in the morning, it could be a sign of late stage Lyme disease. If these symptoms persist or worsen after receiving antibiotic treatments then it’s best to consult with your doctor so they can help you identify what is going on. It could be that antibiotics aren’t enough to treat what’s going on so additional testing may be necessary.

The symptoms of late stage Lyme can vary from person to person. It’s important that you know how to recognize these symptoms so that you can start getting effective treatment right away. You don’t want to go through your life with debilitating illness just because you don’t know what it is or how to treat it. Take steps now to better understand what you are dealing with so that you can get proper care.

Living with late stage Lyme can be scary. You may worry that you won’t have access to a cure or that you will always have these symptoms. With proper treatment though you should be able to manage these symptoms. If you are living with late stage Lyme disease then learn more about what it means to live with it so that you can feel better and healthier going forward.

It’s possible to live with late stage Lyme for years on end. The key to doing so is getting effective care right away so that you can start to feel better as soon as possible. If you’re struggling with late stage Lyme then talk to your doctor today about effective treatments so that you can live a better life in the future.

Take away

After spending some time reading about Lyme disease, you’ve probably gathered that it can be a difficult condition to manage. It isn’t always easy for doctors and patients alike to understand what makes up a complete treatment plan, but don’t worry — you aren’t alone. This guide has given you an introduction into everything from risk factors and symptoms to treatments, so take advantage of these resources and use them as guides for your own search for answers.

There are steps you can take to keep your body healthy. These include regular exercise and leading a balanced lifestyle. Taking time to eat nutritious foods can be helpful as well. In addition, by learning more about your symptoms of illness you will better understand when something might be wrong. Hopefully you learned a thing or two from these tips that will help you in day-to-day life with Lyme disease; best of luck to you!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs):

1. What is a black-legged tick?

This type of tick goes by several names, including deer tick, mouse tick, wood tick and bear tick. What they all have in common is that they attach themselves to your skin and feed on your blood. As they do so, they can transmit diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), babesiosis, ehrlichiosis or Lyme disease.

2. How common is Lyme disease?

An estimated 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year. In addition, researchers estimate that as many as 9 million people may have had an unrecognized or undiagnosed infection.

3. What are tickborne diseases?

The CDC recognizes several tickborne diseases, including those listed above. Some of these illnesses can lead to life-threatening complications. Others may go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed as other conditions, leading people to assume they’re in good health despite a possible infection.

4. How do you get tested for Lyme disease?

The CDC recommends that you see your primary care doctor if you suspect you have been bitten by a tick and believe that you may have been exposed to deer ticks. Your doctor can determine whether or not a test is needed. Some doctors use two-tiered testing, while others prefer Western blot testing. This kind of testing requires that samples be sent off for analysis in a lab.

5. What should you do if you test positive for Lyme disease?

The doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic, such as doxycycline, amoxicillin or ceftriaxone. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, erythromycin might be a better choice.

6. How long should you take your medicine for?

Your doctor will likely recommend taking antibiotics for 28 days but will assess each case individually. Some people need up to 90 days of treatment in order to fully recover from a tickborne illness.

7. What happens if you don’t take your medicine for Lyme disease?

If you stop taking antibiotics before they have had time to work, your symptoms may come back. The infection could also progress if you fail to finish a course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

8. What should you do if you test negative for Lyme disease?

If your doctor has diagnosed you with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, he or she may prescribe a different type of medication, such as amitriptyline. In addition, your doctor may advise you to take other steps to control symptoms and manage your overall health.

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