When Ticks Take A Bite
As most people have probably heard, famous superstar Justin Bieber has been battling lyme disease, a vector-borne disease commonly spread by the deer tick in the northeast, mid-Atlantic and north-cental United States. But it’s not the tick itself that causes the disease, but rather the bacterium that lives inside the tick, also known as Borrelia Burgdorferi. When the tick takes a bite, the bacteria is inoculated into the bloodstream of the individual.
About 3-30 days after an individual is infected with the bacterium, common symptoms develop such as: fever, fatigue, joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, headaches and a classic “bull’s-eye” skin rash known as erythema migrans. If left untreated, more serious signs and symptoms usually develop a few months later.
These may include: neck stiffness, swollen knees with severe joint pain, facial palsy (drooping of one side of the face), heart palpitations known as “lyme carditis“, nerve pain, tingling in the hands and feet, etc. Diagnosis is done clinically based on signs and symptoms, as well as on blood samples measuring antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
There are even reports that when lyme disease infects the brain, it can cause psychiatric symptoms such as psychosis, rapid mood swings, episodes of rage, depression, panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts. That’s why it’s very important to receive an early diagnosis, so that treatment can be started right away.
The early stages of lyme disease have a good prognosis. Treatment involves oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or doxycycline. If more advanced cases such as “lyme carditis” or “neuro lyme” develop, intravenous antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or penicillin are used. Most people start to recover within a few weeks of starting the antibiotics.
It is important to note that if fatigue, difficulty thinking and muscle aches continue to last approximately 6 months after treatment was started, the patient may have something called “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” or “chronic lyme disease.” There is no proven treatment at the moment for chronic lyme disease; however, patients eventually feel better after many months.
The way to prevent lyme disease is to make sure that you remain covered up when exploring wooded or grassy areas. Also wear repellant, immediately shower after being outdoors and check for any tick bites. It’s not that difficult to miss a tick bite and be walking around with lyme disease for weeks at a time without even knowing it.
Safety always comes first; mentally and physically.
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