There are some diseases, like cancer, that no matter how careful you are, you can still fail at preventing yourself from suffering from it. Lyme disease is not one of those diseases. Read this article to find out what Lyme disease is, what are its symptoms, and most importantly, how to prevent contracting it.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused by an infection when you are bitten by a deer tick or black-legged tick. Not all ticks cause Lyme disease. For example, the dog tick and lone star tick do not transmit this bacteria, but those infected with this certain bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi can transmit this infection to those humans or animals they bite.
Once that bacteria is spread to the human body, it passes through the blood to different parts of the body, like the joints and nervous system. At this point, the symptoms of LD will start to show and the body will start to feel the effects of the infection.
What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?
Days after a tick bite, your body can begin to start to show early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease. These symptoms include:
- A rash that spreads in a circular manner over a period of time and can get lighter inside the circle creating a sort of bull’s eye look. This rash can start to form as early as 3 days after the bite and as late as 30 days after a bite. Most people who have contracted Lyme disease will get this symptom.
- Headache, fever, and chills
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Muscle and joint aches
As time progresses and a person is not treated, Lyme disease can show some more severe symptoms. These symptoms include:
- New rashes in areas of the body that weren’t bitten
- Dizziness and shortness of breath
- More severe headaches and body aches
- Arthritis can develop in the large joints such as the knees
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
- Facial palsy
- Short term memory loss
- Tingling, pain, and numbness in the feet and hands
- Inflammation in the spinal cord and brain
How to Prevent Contracting Lyme Disease
The best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to not get bitten by a tick. I know that is easier said than done, but it only takes a little forethought.
You can prevent ticks from being in your yard by designing tick repelling landscape. To do this you need to rid your yard of all tall grasses and brush. Add a three-foot barrier of gravel or wood chips along the line of your yard and the woods. Make sure that patios and playgrounds are away from the side closest to the woods. Keep your lawn short and raked. If you have a wood pile, keep it neat and dry. Keep your yard free of debris and trash. You can also spray your yard with a tick pesticide called acaricides. This spray can help to kill ticks but is not reliable enough to prevent all risk of infection.
Your pets can also carry ticks into your yard, especially dogs. To prevent this, you can buy a collar or spray for your dog that repels and kills ticks, and also keep them away from the woods. If you know your dog has been in a risky area, check them thoroughly for ticks and remove any that you find.
To prevent getting any ticks on yourself and your loved ones, know where the dangers are. If you go hiking, stay inside the walking trails and don’t venture out into the woods. Before going into going anywhere that ticks reside, you can spray any skin that isn’t covered with clothing with bug repellent that contains Deet, IR3535, or Picaridin every few hours. Spray your clothing, shoes, and bags with permethrin.
Take a shower as soon as you get home and check yourself thoroughly with a handheld mirror. Check bags, shoes, and pets for any ticks that could be getting a ride to bite you later. Place all clothing in the washer and wash them with hot water, or in the dryer on high for 15-20 minutes.
If you find a tick that has embedded itself into your skin even after taking all of the above precautions, you can still protect yourself by taking certain steps.
First, you need to properly remove the tick from the skin to keep the head from staying embedded in the skin. All you need is a pair of tweezers, preferably fine tipped. Grab the tick as close as you can to the skin and pull straight up. If the mouth remains stuck to the skin, try to remove it also with the tweezers. Disinfect the bite area and your hands with antibacterial soap or alcohol.
Next, you need to continue to play close attention to the bite wound. If you start to see or feel any of the listed symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. A quick treatment of antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease can cure it. If Lyme disease isn’t diagnosed early, treatment becomes much more tricky.
Diagnosis of Lyme disease can be difficult. The symptoms are very random and can mimic many other diseases but being informed can really help you get the treatment you need if you do in fact have this disease.
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