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Lyme Disease 

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a vector-borne disease that is typically caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and spread by ticks. About 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC annually, but not all cases are reported. The actual number of cases is most likely higher. 

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Symptoms come in stages, so they differ depending on how long one has had the disease. Early symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, fatigue, aches in the muscles and joints, swollen lymph nodes, and erythema migrans rash. This rash forms at the site of the tick bite. These symptoms will occur three to 30 days after infection.

Later effects begin to appear days or months after the bite. They include severe headaches, neck stiffness, additional rashes, facial palsy, arthritis, severe joint pain and swelling, intermittent pain in the tendons, muscles, joints, and bones, an irregular heart beat, dizziness, shortness of breath, inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain, and shooting pains, numbness, and tingling. 

What causes Lyme disease?

A bacteria is responsible for Lyme disease, and it is called Borrelia burgdorferi. Infected deer ticks transmit the disease throughout the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central portions of the United States, while the western blacklegged tick spreads the disease on the Pacific coast. 

How is Lyme disease diagnosed?

Medical professionals will look for the characteristic symptoms, ask about exposure to ticks, rule out other conditions, and conduct lab tests. A two-step process is necessary for lab tests, and both steps can be completed through a blood test. Both steps must be positive in order to confirm a Lyme disease diagnosis. 

What are the treatments for Lyme disease?

Rapid diagnosis is important, as antibiotics can quickly and completely cure the disease during its early stages. Doctors may prescribe doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. These antibiotics are typically enough to cure the disease, but at times people develop post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, which is when symptoms last more than six months after completing treatment. 

Preventing tick bites and removing ticks quickly and completely are also important to stop the transmission of Lyme disease. 

Where can I find out more about Lyme disease?

Lyme Disease Articles

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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again, when I put on my superhero cape, I ascend to the top of the highest mountain, and at the top of my lungs say these three words: CHECK FOR TICKS! It’s prime time for Lyme disease, once again!

Lyme disease, most prevalent in the Northeast, has now been reported in all lower 48 states. It’s a particularly problematic disease because the symptoms mimic many other illnesses, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The CDC stated that it receives more than 30,000 reports of Lyme, but that number is believed to be much higher. Surprisingly, boys between the ages of five through nine are most at risk.

The warning signs are a bull’s eye rash or a reddish oval, flu-like symptoms, but the main red flag is the symptoms come and go. And not everyone will have the same symptoms. For example, while some may have the famous bull’s eye rash, at least 20-30% of people infected will not.

So, if you have these ever changing symptoms, talk to your doctor about Lyme, and available treatments.

Tick bites are not always easy to avoid, especially if you have pets. Your dog can carry the little hitchhikers right into your home–so for those of us who are not one with nature (some of us really do like skyscrapers and concrete, you know…) we have to be careful, too. I regularly take my own advice and check for ticks. The only time I ever found one on my body, I ended up with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Yay me.

A recent study in Europe examined the benefits of long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme sufferers and their findings concluded there was no particular benefit. Many people and their doctors are convinced that Lyme causes continuous infection, while others are not so sure. What do you think?