Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment And Prevention

Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment And Prevention

Every summer, tick bites are the reason why many people seek medical attention. We all know that ticks are the most popular known transmitters for Lyme disease and how some ticks can be as small as a small point, and the bite area does not hurt, many people do not even realize they are at risk of suffering . such a horrible disease

In general, children and outdoor adventurers are the most exposed, as they often come into contact with grasses, shrubs, forest areas, etc. Because ticks prefer shady, moist areas (shrubs and forests), people with exposed skin surfaces are at greater risk.

Dogs and other wild animals can also transmit ticks, introducing them into more populated areas, such as small towns and villages. The use of clothing to completely cover your body may also not be the best way to protect against ticks, as they can easily enter clothes openings and can still bite you.

Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment And Prevention

The name of this disease originates in the Lyme area of ​​Connecticut, where the outbreak of the disease allowed researchers to find the root causes of the disease. It seems that the animals that most often transmit ticks (and with them the culprit bacteria) are deer, raccoons, field mice, squirrels and other wild animals. When ticks bite all kinds of animals, they will eventually become infected with certain bacteria: Borrelia burgdorferi which, if untreated, can cause arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Lyme disease: general symptoms.

The first symptoms after the bite are: headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, chills and / or fever, including swollen lymph nodes. Usually, the area around the sting will turn red, as if the person had a rash. This is the redness called and # 8216; porthole that is specific to Lyme disease and appears several days after the bite.

the eruption Around the sting, which is often associated with Lyme disease, is called Erythma migrans. It is basically one of the first symptoms that appear in a few days. The shape of the eruption is usually circular or oval (sometimes even triangular) and later, another circle appears around the main bite, which makes it look like a porthole.

If the person does not act early and seeks medical attention, the infection can spread rapidly and more rashes appear in different areas of the body. Shortly after the rash occurs, the person may begin to have fever and chills, including other symptoms related to the flu (due to the infection that is spreading).

Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment And Prevention

One of the following symptoms, if the disease remains without treatment, is arthritis. This usually means that the patient will suffer joint pain. Some joints swell and turn red. Arthritis can change to different joints and remain durable if the patient does not act soon after the first arthritic symptoms. Usually, they occur several weeks after the bite and transmission of the disease and the less affected areas are the joints of the knuckles.

Later, some of the most dangerous symptoms of Lyme disease, if left untreated, are related to the nervous system. These symptoms can occur within weeks or even months and years after the infection has spread throughout the body. These symptoms are stiff neck, headaches, facial paralysis, pain in the extremities, even memory loss and changes in the sleep pattern.

In case these neurological symptoms are not treated, they usually resolve after a period of time (several months), but they can happen again. In general, untreated patients can function normally after these symptoms have disappeared and they can return to their normal daily rhythm.

Very few patients can present Heart problems. These include shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and so on. Usually, these symptoms do not last more than several weeks or, sometimes, days.

An additional symptom, which is very rare, but worth mentioning, is ocular inflammation. Along with this, the patient may experience severe fatigue. These symptoms should not be present even if the above symptoms have not been experienced.

Often, some patients develop symptoms of post-treatment Lyme disease or PTLDS. This means that even after antibiotic treatment, these patients have active symptoms or may even appear new, such as arthritis followed by moments of extreme pain or swelling. This often occurs in the knee joints. Meningitis, nerve paralysis, and other neurological problems may also appear.

Doctors are still not sure why these symptoms appear after treatment, but some guess that some tissues or nerves are likely to have been damaged before the actual treatment and to present themselves later (even after the patient has been treated successfully with medicines).

Symptoms of Lyme disease in adults and children.

This disease manifests differently in adults and children. Therefore, from the symptoms mentioned above, we can distinguish some, which are more specific for adults and adults. These symptoms are the indicators similar to those of the flu of which we spoke earlier, the eruption and bull’s-eye marks and, basically, almost all those indicated above.

Children usually exhibit most of these symptoms, but while an adult may have problems sleeping and even suffering from depression, these symptoms in children are more like uncharacteristic behaviors, symptoms of ADHD (which the child did not show before) . Mood swings in children is also very common.

Keep in mind that, after seeing the rash, you should treat it if you do not want to develop some of the more serious symptoms. Remember that often, laboratory tests for Lyme disease can be negative in the first weeks after the bite, so you may have to watch out for your symptoms. After several weeks you can redo the lab tests to see if it is truly out of danger. If the tests are positive, the treatment should be started immediately.

Treatment for Lyme disease

To be treated efficiently, your doctor must perform some tests before. For some patients it is easy to identify the disease because they have a specific rash in the bite area. After seeing this rash, most doctors will consider that as a symptom of Lyme disease and will prescribe the required medications.

Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment And Prevention

Other patients may have different symptoms that are more difficult to identify and tests should be done. Because some of the symptoms are very similar to other diseases, you may be diagnosed in the wrong way, so performing laboratory tests should be the first stage of your treatment.

Basic laboratory tests

The basic diagnostic test procedure is simple: specific bacteria are taken from the patient and kept as a culture to see if it grows and thrives in a certain (laboratory) environment. If he does, then this is proof that the patient has Lyme disease. The disadvantage of this method is that the bacteria grow slowly and waiting for the results can delay the treatment.

To speed up the testing process, some doctors prefer to observe the response of the immune system to the infection. This test is called ELISA and specifically tracks the antibodies produced by the immune system. As the infection has begun to spread, the body will begin to fight the spirochete bacteria and produce antibodies. While ELISA may not be a sufficient test method, most doctors will use it as a complementary test, the so-called Western Blot. The latter gives a much better result and seems to be more reliable in the medical field.

General medication treatment

The treatment of Lyme disease usually involves certain antibiotics, but these should not be taken without medical supervision. There is a wide variety of antibiotics and some are used for special categories of patients, such as young children, pregnant women and nursing women. Other antibiotics should be preferred in case the patient has advanced disease symptoms, which usually affect the nervous system.

If the patient seeks medical attention soon after discovering the tick bite or when the rash appeared, the doctor will usually prescribe oral doxycycline or amoxicillin. These are both antibiotics that proved to be effective in fighting Lyme disease. The treatment should not last more than two weeks, since antibiotics have their own side effects in the body, so prolonged treatment is not recommended.

There is also an intravenous (IV) treatment with antibiotics and should be addressed in case the patient presents more severe symptoms in the advanced stages of the disease. As we mentioned before, these are related to the nervous system.

If the patient is a small girl, pregnant or nursing, you should receive amoxicillin or penicillin. On the other hand, if some patients are allergic to penicillin, they are prescribed erythromycin.

When dealing with patients with heart problems (one of the most serious symptoms), doctors prefer to treat them with Rocephin (or Claforan) or even regular penicillin (given intravenously). Once again, patients are best treated around 2 weeks. More than that, it can have a negative impact on the health of patients. Long-term heart-related problems may even require the use of a cardiac pacemaker (only temporarily) or receive corticosteroids.

In general, in whatever category the patient is, the treatment of 2 weeks should not be exceeded. It has not been shown that a longer antibiotic treatment accelerates or improves recovery. Symptoms may disappear very suddenly or, in other cases, disappear slowly, even months after treatment, but if the disease is detected early, there is a good chance that the patient will recover completely.

Prevention – The best treatment.

It is recommended to wear long pants and cover any exposed body area that may come in contact with other animals (wild or pets), shrubs, tall grass, wooded areas, when hiking or camping, or just walk your dog. It is also recommended to buy an insect repellent or treat your clothes with an insect shield (known as Permethrin).

If adding insect repellent to your clothes is not something you like to do, you can buy those clothes, already treated with chemicals by the manufacturer. The clothes purchased can usually withstand up to 70 washes. Of course, treating your own clothes is also an excellent option, but after 3 or 4 washes, the chemical will be removed.

Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment And Prevention

It is recommended to wear white clothing outdoors, since you can easily see ticks if they adhere to clothing. Do not forget to put the sleeves and pants on clothes and boots, so there are no open areas, through which ticks can enter.

When it comes to real trekking, avoid wooded and shaded areas. The best thing you can do is simply follow the trail, minimizing your contact with wilder areas. If you go hiking with your dog, keep it close to you. Pets can also easily transmit ticks and diseases.

About your backyard, keep the grass well cropped all the time. Avoid letting it grow for longer periods, as it will become fertile ground for ticks.

You can also buy an insect repellent with 20% DEET. You will be sure that no tick will bite you if it is covered with it. You can combine the DEET repellent with Permethrin to have a much more efficient defense against ticks. Of course, do not overuse them, since they are chemical and if you apply them regularly on your skin and / or clothes, you risk suffering some negative side effects on your health. Also be careful with children, as your body is much more vulnerable to powerful chemicals (such as DEET-based repellents) and may have side effects.

After being outdoors, always wash your clothes, especially if you suspect that you have been walking in a tick area. Washing will eliminate the ticks successfully.

Always carry out an exhaustive control of your family and of yourself if you have been several days in nature, camping, hiking or hiking. If you had your dog with you, I also inspected it. This is especially true if you live in areas with a high documented risk of contracting Lyme disease. If you suspect possible exposure to ticks, bathe immediately, your entire body and hair.

Check your skin for irregularities, especially areas you can not see (such as your back, scalp, ears, etc.). When the ticks adhere to the skin, a part of the body is exposed and it feels as if there is a lump on the skin. If specific areas of your skin are not natural, ask a friend, family member or family member to inspect the area.

How to remove a tick

If the worst happened and you got an unwanted friend, you should eliminate it as quickly as possible. You can remove the tick with tweezers, but try to do it without crushing it or you could risk a part remaining on your skin. It is recommended to keep the whole tick and put it in a small jar. Then you can administer it for laboratory tests to see what diseases you are infected with.

To help loosen the contact (so you can remove the tick), the tweezers should be forceful (to prevent the tick from getting crushed) and you should grab the tick near your head.

Try to avoid removing the tick with your hands, as you risk crushing it and worsen your situation. When you have managed to remove it, wash the bite area with an antiseptic. This will prevent the possible spread of the infection.

Also, keep in mind that once a tick adheres to your skin, it will not transmit any disease immediately. It usually takes up to 24 hours before the disease spreads in your body. As long as I can eliminate a tick within a few hours after I bit it (and discovered it), you can be sure. Of course, it is always much better to keep the tick, visit the doctor and perform some tests. The disease is usually transmitted when the tick has already sucked some of its blood.

Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment And Prevention

For pregnant women it is especially important not to be exposed to high risk areas, since the infection can cause a miscarriage even if medical treatment has been initiated. Whenever you wear long pants and sleeves tucked into your boots and pants, apply a good DEET repellent on your clothes and stay on the main road to be sure. Therefore, pregnant women should be very careful and take all necessary precautions.

In general, you should perform antibiotic treatment when you are diagnosed with Lyme disease for the first time. If symptoms persist, visit your doctor again, as you may need to perform a second round of antibiotic treatment. Most people recover completely and complications rarely occur. Even so, sometimes the disease has a powerful effect on the nervous system and the damaged nerves can remain permanently affected. People with heart problems and / or problems related to the nervous system are at greater risk.

As long as you follow the above tips on insect repellents, special clothing and maintenance on the main road, you will be fine. Always get in touch with your doctor at the first signs of the above symptoms! Do not delay your visit to the doctor, since the treatment of the infection in its initial stages will ensure a quick recovery and minimize the risk of complications.


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