Lyme Disease and Its Risks
During the summertime, many people take advantage of the good weather to enjoy the outdoors, either on a camping trip, hiking, or having picnics on the lawn with friends and family.
While these are fun activities to reduce stress and enjoy some time with your loved ones, you also run the risk of contracting Lyme disease, an infection that is spread by tick bites.
Health officials have warned people for years about the risks that ticks pose to human health, including the complications associated with Lyme disease.
That’s why it’s important to know about this disease and do everything possible to reduce your risk.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by a germ known as a spirochete, which is mainly found in deer ticks or black ticks in the Northeast and Midwestern United States.
Because they are carriers of this bacteria, ticks can pose a risk to both human and animal health as just one bite can spread the disease and lead to a series of symptoms that seriously impact your quality of life.
Most cases of Lyme disease have occurred in the ticks’ home range of the Northeast and Midwest US. But this disease has also been known to occur in other parts of the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
See also: How to Remove Fleas and Ticks Naturally
One of the first indicators of Lyme disease is a rash on the skin that usually appears between three and 30 days after the initial tick bite.
Usually, the rash will begin at the site of the bite, as a red patch that will gradually grow and spread across the skin.
Other symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Shaking or chills
- Muscle and joint pain
While this only occurs in very few cases, in its early stages Lyme disease can spread to the heart and central nervous system.
If something like this occurs, the sufferer may also experience symptoms such as a slow or irregular heartbeat, as well as Bell’s palsy, numbness in the arms and legs, and swelling of the membrane that surrounds the brain.
What happens as Lyme disease progresses?
If you ignore the early signs of Lyme disease and don’t seek treatment, the bacteria can spread to other parts of your body and with time, your symptoms will worsen.
In the later stages, a person suffering from Lyme disease may begin to experience arthritis (painful, swollen joints) and problems with their central nervous system. Arthritis will usually affect the knees and rarely damages other joints.
It is uncommon for this disease to advance to the later stages, but when it does you may also experience the following symptoms:
- Trouble concentrating
- Changes in mood
- Changes in sleep habits
- Memory loss
- Muscle weakness
Who is at risk for Lyme disease?
People who spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly where there are animals present, have a higher risk of contracting Lyme disease because there are usually more ticks concentrated in those areas.
Ticks prefer to inhabit the tips of blades of grass and low shrubs because humans or animals frequently brush against them.
Often, a tick will crawl underneath your clothing before adhering to the skin. Furthermore, once they bite you it’s hard to detect them because it usually doesn’t cause any discomfort – this is why a tick can go unnoticed for quite some time.
Not all ticks are carriers of Lyme disease, but any of them could pose this health risk. That’s why it’s very important that you try to keep them away from your home and garden or outdoor areas as diligently as possible.
What is the treatment for Lyme disease?
If you’ve been diagnosed with Lyme disease, you’ll need to start a course of antibiotics that lasts from two weeks to nearly a month.
If it hasn’t yet advanced to the later stages, the antibiotics will work quickly to eliminate your symptoms in a short amount of time.
If the disease has progressed significantly, however, you may have to continue your treatment and receive intravenous antibiotics.