Chronic Lyme Disease
Difficult to diagnose, chronic lyme disease is contracted by a tick bite and causes several flu-like symptoms. Named after Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first discovered, lyme disease may first present as a large circular red rash, a tell tale sign of a tick bite. A species called "Ixodes Scapularis" may carry harmful bacteria, which is transmitted into the skin of humans, dogs, or other animals. People often contract an infection after walking or hiking through wooded or grassy areas, which may be heavily populated by insects. Ticks live on wild animals and birds, burrowing deep into fur or feathers and latching onto unsuspecting humans or house pets that travel through wooded areas or fields. A walk in the park could literally cause illness or even death when bacteria-carrying insects bite humans and animals.
Victims of chronic lyme disease may experience headaches and flu-like symptoms, such as chills and fever, body aches, muscle weakness, and inflammation in the joints. The circular rash may spread quickly and resemble a bulls eye, with lighter coloring inside graduating to deeper redness on the outer fringes. Left undiagnosed, an infection can linger for weeks and months as victims continue to experience increasingly distressing discomfort. Advanced stages of the disease may mimic or attribute to arthritic conditions, such as muscle stiffness and weakness, severe swelling, and paralysis of the facial muscles. Persistent joint inflammation can cause a deterioration of cartilage, debilitating pain, and an increasing lack of mobility. As pain becomes increasingly intolerable, individuals may become dependent upon anti-inflammatory drugs which carry dangerous side effects. Victims may also experience short term memory loss and disorientation. Because symptoms so closely mimic the flu, individuals may put off seeing a doctor and try to treat the disease with home remedies or over-the counter cold medicines. If symptoms worsen or become persistent, seeing the doctor is the best recourse to begin treating chronic lyme disease.
In addition to arthritic conditions, chronic lyme disease can also affect the brain, heart, and neurological system. Cardiovascular conditions, such as heart block or palpitations have also been reported. Heart block victims will present with breathlessness or chronic fatigue, resulting from a misfiring of heart impulses which causes blood not to reach the ventricles, or chambers. In severe cases, brain damage can occur if blockages prevent blood from traveling to the cranium. Blood tests can determine whether a patient's overall malaise is caused by lyme disease. Once diagnosed, treatment for the infection will include a series of antibiotics to stem the effects of bacteria; along with aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory medicine to treat pain and arthritic symptoms. Within three weeks, patients are usually rid of the infection and swelling and pain should subside. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;" (Psalm 103:2-3).
The earlier chronic lyme disease is diagnosed the better the outcome. Individuals that detect a tick bite should seek medical attention immediately or within thirty-six hours. Lyme disease is usually not transmitted if bacteria-infected ticks, which attach themselves to the skin, are removed within the first day. It is a good idea to examine household pets and clothing for ticks before entering the home after a walk in the park or other wooded area. When a tick bites, it latches onto the skin with a fury, burying its tentacles into the skin and burrowing its body onto the wound. Carefully removing them with tweezers can prevent bacteria from spreading. Ticks should be destroyed and disposed of before they can bite humans or burrow deeply within another animal's fur. Before taking a hike, individuals should dress in long sleeved shirts and long pants with sports socks to protect from insect bites. Ticks love low brush, so staying along a clearance or path may lower the odds of getting bitten.
To prevent a tick infestation and ward off chronic lyme disease, homeowners can also practice good hygiene and preventive maintenance. Washing bedding for house pets or clothing worn in wooded areas is also a good way to rid ticks from fabrics before they can bite. Like the common flea, ticks can be easily seen on light clothing. Spraying the skin with insect repellant or powdering dogs and cats before hiking may also keep ticks and fleas at bay. Areas around the yard can be treated with sevin dust, a compound which repels fleas and other pests without harming animals. The powdery compound can be applied to door entrances, around shrubs and plants, and building foundations to deter infestation. Insects, such as ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas love moist or damp areas and can rapidly populate areas near water and overgrown vegetation. Keeping lawns mowed helps prevent tick infestation and chronic lyme disease. Veterinarians may also recommend specific products designed to repel ticks at no risk of harming animals, birds, humans or the environment.
As with any disorder, early detection can help prevent the spread of chronic lyme disease. Flu-like symptoms or a circular, red bulls eye rash noticeable one to two days after hiking in a wooded area should not be ignored. Routinely examining pets, pet bedding, and clothing immediately after being outdoors will also help homeowners stay watchful for bacteria-carrying insects. Visible ticks should be carefully removed with tweezers and disposed of immediately. Signs or symptoms of infection should be treated seriously and emergency care is warranted. With immediate treatment, victims of tick bites should fully recover within one to three weeks.
Lyme Disease TreatmentEffective Lyme disease treatment is very important and may include a round of oral antibiotics that can last anywhere from three to four weeks or longer. Patients may also need additional care for something call post Lyme disease syndrome, or PLDS. The ailment itself is actually an infection that is caused by a specific bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. The infection is believed to be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. The illness happens frequently in the north central and northeastern parts of the United States.
The first symptom of the disease may be a rash that appears near the bite of the infected tick. Anyone who discovers and removes an embedded tick from their body should keep an eye on the area for any kind of rash or skin problem. This rash may be one of the first indicators of a need for Lyme disease treatment. The rash will not appear right away. Three to thirty days may pass before the rash is seen. A lack of rash in this area does not necessarily mean that the individual can breath a sigh of relief. While most patients will experience the rash, not all patients who contract the infection will do so. Seventy to eighty percent of sufferers will notice the rash. Beginning at the site of the tick bite, the rash will usually fan out spreading in a circular manner for several days. Reported to resemble a bullseye, the skin rash has been known to grow quite large, possibly twelve inches in diameter or more. At the center, the rash may clear up, leaving a large red circle. Some patients report rashes in other locations in the body as well.
There are a number of other symptoms that may manifest themselves. However, as with the rash, not every patient will experience all symptoms. In may cases, the symptoms that do show up may be confused with other ailments, so careful attention, as well as clear communication with a medical professional is necessary. It is very important that Lyme disease treatment begins as soon as possible. Without treatment, the infection can quickly spread to other parts of the body and cause damage. For some, the disease will clear up on its own, leaving no chronic health issues behind. However, for others who contract this infection, there may be no such happy ending. Without medical care, serious health issues may follow the patient for a long time to come.
One of the factors that can make Lyme disease treatment so difficult is the fact that some of the most serious symptoms may not show until several months after the original tick bite. These symptoms may include a facial palsy that involves a loss of control of muscles on either side of the face. Neck stiffness and extremely painful headaches may also be reported. Dizziness, heart palpitations, and joint pains will frequently be experienced. If the patient goes without Lyme disease treatment, they may begin to experience arthritis in some or all of their joints. These attacks will usually involve painful and swollen joints. The larger joints, such as the knees, will be the most likely to develop symptoms. Shooting pains along with tingling sensations in the hands and feet have been reported. Some patients may even experience a loss of short term memory.
If the illness is diagnosed early, antibiotic treatment can usually cure the infection before more serious problems can show themselves. For this reason, if a patient feels ill after a tick bite, or even after spending time in an area that is likely to be infested with ticks, they should speak to a doctor. Sharing this information can help the physician to more quickly identify a potential case of the disease and begin Lyme disease treatment in a timely manner. A small minority of patients may not respond to oral antibiotic treatment. More intensive treatments involving intravenous drugs may be in order. However, simply experiencing a tick bite does not mean that the individual will automatically contract the infection. Taking antibiotics as a purely precautionary measure is not recommended. There are also blood tests that can indicate the presence of certain antibodies that signal the onset of a Lyme disease infection. These tests can be very useful in diagnosing this disease in its later stages.
Prevention is an important part of Lyme disease treatment. There are a number of steps that families can take to minimize the risk of contracting this dangerous malady. Avoid walking through wooded and brushy areas. The time of year that presents the greatest risk are the months of May, June, and July. If it is necessary to walk through an area that is likely to be tick infested, the best approach is to try to stay in the center of the trail. Strolling through overgrown grassy areas or through leaf litter is not wise. If there is a question about traveling through a certain area, the local park service, extension agency or health department can usually supply answers on the areas that are tick infested. There are also a variety of insect repellent products that are available. Products that are at least twenty percent Deet are generally the most effective. Dressing in long sleeves and long pants and covering exposed skin with a repellent can help to ward off ticks and eliminate the need for Lyme disease treatment. It is also a good idea to tuck pant legs into boots or socks. The Bible reassures the poor and the needy that God will not forget them. For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever. (Psalm 9:18)