Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Treatment and Prevention of A Tick-borne Disease
Now that spring is here and the sun is shining, being outdoors is a temptation that few want to avoid. However, if you live or play in wooded or grassy areas, lots of tiny critters hang out there. Ticks, especially, favor these spots. They are known to carry Lyme disease, an illness transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, commonly known as a deer tick. There are ways to treat and prevent Lyme Disease, though.
Some of the symptoms of Lyme disease are:
- Rash. From three to 30 days after an infected tick bite, an expanding red area might appear that sometimes clears in the center, forming a bull’s-eye pattern. It expands slowly over days and can spread to 12 inches across. It’s typically not itchy or painful but might feel warm to the touch. Some people develop this rash at more than one place on their bodies.
- Other symptoms.Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, neck stiffness and swollen lymph nodes can accompany the rash.
Later symptoms might include:
- Erythema migrans. The rash may appear on other areas of your body.
- Joint pain.Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affect your knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
- Neurological problems.Weeks, months or even years after infection, you might develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis), temporary paralysisof one side of your face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement.
Several weeks after infection, some people develop:
- Heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat
- Eye inflammation
- Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
- Severe fatigue
Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. However, there are steps to take to prevent Lyme Disease. They include:
- Perform tick checks: under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in and around all head and body hair, between the legs, around the waist
- Remove attached ticks quickly and correctly
- Be alert for fever or rash
- Prevent ticks on animals
- Create tick-safe zone in your yard: Keep patios, play areas, and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation.
The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases, as well. Always take precautions when outdoors and always call your doctor for a diagnosis. It’s better to be safe than sorry.