Lyme Disease

In some cases, you can get an infection due to bites from deer ticks and this is known as Lyme disease. This typically happens when you are moving around in open forest areas and the ticks can be stuck to the grass in that area. They are very small and you can almost miss them when you see them with the naked eye. The Borrelia Burgdorferi bacterium infects the ticks and they can pass on the infection to your body when they bite you during your outdoor activities. Some of the symptoms are rashes, etc. in the joints combined with flu-like symptoms. In many cases, the symptoms may not show up immediately and you may notice them after a few weeks. Timely treatment can effectively cure the problem and you will not get severe complications out of this infection.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

- The symptoms of Lyme disease can occur even at a later stage after the initial bite and you have to carefully watch for rashes and other common symptoms.

- The rash slowly starts spreading from the affected area and it can grow a few inches around the affected area. Even though it is not painful and does not itch in usual cases, it is obviously visible with a red patch in the affected area.

- Some people also experience fever like symptoms that include chills and body ache when they are affected with Lyme disease.

- Arthritis and joint pain are common when you are suffering from this problem and it can also lead to shooting pains in some cases.

- It is also common to get tired and fatigue is easily the most visible symptom of this disease.

- When timely treatment is not provided, the disease can spread to other regions and you will notice similar rashes in other regions of the body.

- Some people also complain about pain in the joints and there can be swelling in the area for no reason. This can also shift from one particular region to another within a few days.

- In extreme cases, it can even lead to inflammation in the brain region and even lead to facial paralysis. However, this can be temporary and it often affects the muscular movements.

- Some people also develop irregular heartbeat and other problems related to the heart a few days after the infection. Others may even develop hepatitis and inflammation of the eyes in this period.

Causes of Lyme Disease

Getting a bite from an infected deer tick is the major cause of Lyme disease. In many areas, animals can carry such ticks on their bodies and this can move to different places and even reach your home through your pets or due to your exposure to such an environment. The Borrelia burgdorferi and the borrelia mayonii bacteria cause the most number of such cases in the United States. It can easily get into the bloodstream after the bite and you can get infected within a couple of days. Always watch out for the signs of Lyme disease so that you can easily get treatment at the right time.

Diagnosis of Lyme Disease

- Physical examination : This is done immediately after a suspected bite or when some symptoms like rashes are observed in the body. If this coincides with exposure to outdoor areas, you will need to tell them specifically to your doctor so that it does not lead to confusion about being symptoms of other diseases. Once the rashes are identified, you may be given some antibiotics to treat them in the initial stages. At this stage, it may still not be confirmed that it is Lyme disease and general antibiotics are given to control the symptoms. When symptoms persist, further diagnosis with blood tests may be required to determine the infection.

- Blood Tests : Blood tests are usually done immediately after the bite or when symptoms begin to appear within one week after the infection. Apart from this, a blood test may again be conducted after a few weeks as the infection may show up after many weeks and the development of antibodies in the body will indicate the presence of Lyme infection. In many cases, the first blood test may show negative results and the second one may show positive for this infection.

- ELISA Test : This is the standard test adopted in the early stages and it helps determine the antibodies for burgdorferi. When antibodies are present in the body, it confirms the infection. In many cases, this test is repeated again after a few weeks when the first one shows negative results.

- Western Blot Test : This test further confirms the presence of antibodies for the burgdorferi and doctors are able to begin the treatment process after this step. It is usually done twice in many cases to confirm the results within a few weeks gap as the infection may show up later in such cases.

Prevention of Lyme Disease

It is important to prevent Lyme disease as it can create various complications with your health. You need to understand that by avoiding exposure to areas affected with deer ticks, you will be able to drastically reduce the chances of getting this infection.

- When you are moving in such areas, it makes sense to cover yourself completely and avoid exposing any part of your body to the open air. Remember that these ticks cannot fly and they usually stay attached to some bushes or grass and hop onto your dress or exposed body parts when you get in touch with them. If you are carrying animals like dogs or cats for outdoor activities, be extra cautious about them as they can easily catch such infection in quick time.

- The biggest problem with Lyme infection is that the ticks that cause the infection are very tiny and you will find it very difficult to identify them with the naked eye. For this reason, you should always use insect repellants as per the advice of your doctor and keep yourself safe during outdoor activities. You can even use some repellants on your clothing to completely avoid the ticks from getting close to you during outdoor camping events.

- If you have an open space in your backyard, you should take measures to tick-proof them so that they cannot get inside your home. When you clear the bushes and leaves in the backyard, you will be removing the ticks in a major way and they will not find a convenient place to stay in your backyard.

- After coming back from an outing in the forest area, you should immediately change your dress and wash them thoroughly so that any ticks that might have got attached to your dress will not survive in your home. In the same way, even you should have a good shower and clean yourself completely and this will kill any ticks that are attached to your body without your notice.

- If you notice any ticks attached to your body, be very careful about it and remove it carefully. If you are not able to do it yourself, you must approach a doctor who will do it for you and they will even apply some antiseptic on the affected area. Remember that when you are able to remove them within a few hours after the bite, you will be safe from infection. Following these guidelines will help in the prevention of Lyme disease in the future.

Treatment for Lyme Disease

- Oral antibiotics : when the disease is still in the early stages, oral antibiotics are given to reduce the symptoms and this gives effective results in most of the cases. This should be taken for a couple of weeks to notice any significant results and many people get cured in this stage.

- Intravenous antibiotics : When the oral antibiotics are not effective, your doctor may suggest you use such methods and this will help you to overcome the infection in quick time. It can, however, cause some side effects in some people and this will go away after the treatment is completed.

Complications of Lyme Disease

- When treatment is not provided at the right time, you may face a lot of complications related to the functioning of the brain. This can be dangerous and you need to get proper treatment for the infection. Never neglect the symptoms and be careful about them as they may show up very late after getting a bite. For this reason, you should always use protective gear when venturing outside in the forest areas.

- In most cases, the neurological complications of this infection include impaired memory and this is common among elderly patients. Apart from that, some patients may also notice cognitive defects and this will be obvious when the infection has reached the advanced stage.

- In extreme cases, it can even lead to facial palsy and this condition can paralyze a part of the face and it usually gets tilted towards one side. However, the effect may be temporary in most cases and many patients eventually recover from this condition after a few months.

- Some patients also experience an irregular heartbeat and this can affect the functioning of other vital organs of the body. You should consult your doctor when you are suffering from such symptoms and get timely treatment to avoid further complications.

- The most common complication of Lyme disease is the joint inflammation and this affects the knees of the patients. It can cause extreme pain and this will last for a few weeks without any other reason. When you are facing this issue, your doctors will provide suitable medication to handle the symptoms and try to reduce the infection using antibiotics.

Myths about Lyme Disease

Myth #1. Lyme disease always produces rashes :

This is completely false and it may not produce a rash in every situation. However, other symptoms may persist and you need to visit your doctor to get a thorough examination before you can rule out the chances of infection.

Myth #2. Negative tests mean no disease :

Just because you have got negative results in the first test does not mean that you are safe from infection. In most cases, the symptoms can show up very late a few weeks after the initial bite and you need to take a second blood test to confirm the results.

Myth# 3.No risk of Lyme disease in our area :

Many people have the misconception that only certain areas are prone to Lyme infection and you may be safe when such infections are not found in your area. While this is true to a certain extent, you cannot be always sure about this and always go for proper treatment whenever you notice symptoms in your body. Remember that the ticks causing Lyme infection can travel through animals and other means and reach an area to cause infection.

Myth# 4.Lyme disease will not reappear :

This is not entirely true and you can get Lyme disease again when you are infected with the bacteria. For this reason, you should always be careful when you venture into places that are prone to such attacks. Make sure that you wear proper gear and protect yourself from such exposure. You should also understand that every bite from a deer tick will not cause Lyme disease and only a bite from the infected tick will cause such problems. However, you should leave nothing to chance and always follow the precautionary measures to avoid the infection in the future.

Conclusion

If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease, you need not worry as treatment is readily available and most people get cured within a couple of months. Even the symptoms are usually not severe and it is usually not fatal even in advanced stages of infection. However, the best thing you can do is to prevent the infection by covering yourself completely when you are out in open areas which are prone to Lyme infection. In this way, you can easily avoid the infection in your family. You should also be careful about your pets as they can catch the infection easily and bring the ticks to your home. When you notice any symptoms, approach your doctor and get timely treatment to cure the infection. In most cases, they do not cause severe complications and you need not worry about fatal complications due to this infection.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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