What causes Lyme disease?
Lyme disease comes from the bacteria called Borrelia Burgdoferi and Borrelia Mayonii. These bacteria are primarily carried by black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks. In contracting Lyme disease, the tick must bite the individual. The bacteria will then enter your body through the bite site and then eventually into your bloodstream.
Although, in many cases, even after being bitten by a tick, the tick must stay attached to the individual for several hours to days. Typically, 36 to 48 hours. There is little likelihood of an individual contracting Lyme Disease if an individual finds a tick on their person and removes the tick shortly after it has bitten.
What would put me at risk for Lyme Disease?
Individuals who find themselves spending much of their time participating or working in outdoor activities run a higher risk of getting Lyme disease because this is where the ticks that cause the disease are found.
Common risk factors for Lyme disease include:
- Spending time in wooded or grassy areas. If you your job requires you to be outside working in grassy areas, or if you tend to hike, fish, or possibly even spending time in a park, you are at higher risk due to the likelihood of ticks being in these wooded and grassy areas.
- Having exposed skin. While in these wooded and grassy areas, it is essential to cover your skin. For example, a hat can prevent a tick falling into your hair. Long sleeves and long pants are always suggested when out in a wooded and grassy area to prevent from ticks attaching themselves to your bare skin.
- Not removing ticks promptly or properly. As mentioned previously, a tick bite will cause the bacteria to enter into your bloodstream. However, the tick needs to be attached to your skin for 36 to 48 hours to transfer the bacteria. It is important to check yourself and your friend for ticks once you return home from areas where there is a likelihood of tick infestation.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Symptoms of Lyme disease vary and can take from 3 to 30 days to eventually present themselves. Common symptoms include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, fatigue, headache, joint and muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes
- A Erythema Migrans (EM) rash. This rash usually occurs at the area of the tick bite with a delayed reaction of anywhere between 3 and 30 days. Seven days is about the average length of time and it appears in around 75% of infected people. It will gradually expand for days until reaching about 12 inches in diameter and may feel warm to the touch. As it enlarges, a patch may clear giving it a “Bullseye” appearance. The bullseye can appear in a different area of the body other than the bite site, although this is uncommon.
Some late signs of a tick bite and Lyme disease include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Knees and other large joints can experience swelling and severe joint pain.
- Additional EM rashes on different areas of the body
- Loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat.
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Pain in the joints, bones, muscles, and tendons.
- Problems with short-term memory
- Nerve pain
- Tingling, numbness, or shooting pains in hands or feet.
What happens if Lyme Disease goes untreated?
There are several complications of untreated Lyme disease; some can be significantly painful and life-changing. Some of the untreated complications can cause:
- Heart rhythm irregularities
- Neurological symptoms. These can include facial palsy and neuropathy
- Chronic joint inflammation, particularly of the knee
- Cognitive defects, such as impaired memory
As you can see, Lyme disease can take its toll on the body, causing some significant complications with daily living. It is essential to seek medical attention when it comes to tick bites and possible Lyme Disease. Here at Health and Wellness of Carmel, we specialize in the treatment of the effects of Lyme disease. If you have any questions, please give us a call, and one of our well-informed staff members can set you up with an appointment to speak to one of our specialists. Give us a call at (317) 795-1516.
We look forward to treating you.