May is Lyme Awareness Month — for those with Lyme disease, it is a reminder to be strong and that more people need to be made aware of what they go through. With that in mind, here are some important things to know about Lyme disease.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection often transmitted through a tick bite. In Lyme cases, usually a deer or black-legged tick carries with it the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and passes it on to a person through biting their skin. Once infected, one may begin to experience a wide variety of symptoms which often makes Lyme difficult to recognize as its symptoms mimic other diseases — this gives the disease the infamous nickname of the great imitator.
What does Lyme disease do to your body?
Essentially, Lyme Disease attacks your immune system. The first indicator that you have been infected is if you develop a bulls-eye rash (but not everyone gets one) and then if you develop flu-like symptoms.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease may include:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Brain fog
- Bell’s palsy
- Irregular heartbeat
How common is Lyme Disease?
According to the CDC, Lyme is most common in the northeast US, but has been reported in all 50 states. Lyme disease accounts for 82% of all tick-borne cases, making it the most common of tick-borne diseases. It is estimated that over 300,000 cases are diagnosed for each year.
How to prevent it
- Wear light colored clothing with a tight weave while outdoors. Since ticks can be very small, they can be hard to see and easy to fall through loose weave clothing.
- Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck your pants into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants.
- When hiking or gardening, keep long hair tied up. Check your clothes and exposed skin for ticks frequently.
- Stay on cleared and well-traveled trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas. Avoid sitting on the ground or on stone walls. Don’t let your children jump into piles of leaves as these are all places ticks like to hide.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after being outdoors so you can easily find ticks you may have carried home.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 min after you come indoors.
- Consider using insect repellents according to label directions, but be aware that some types may cause eye and skin irritation. (Livingston County)
Be sure to check your body for ticks after being outdoors!
How to remove a tick
- Clean the infected area
- Use pointed tweezers to grab as close to the tick’s head as possible and pull in a straight and steady motion (Be sure to not twist)
- After removal, clean both the infected area and your hands
If you don’t want to send your tick off for testing, be sure to dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet or drowning it in rubbing alcohol. Do not squeeze it with your fingers, though!
What to do if you develop symptoms
Visit your doctor and get tested as soon as possible. Remember, not every person develops a bulls-eye rash and the sooner you get treated, the less chance you have of developing chronic symptoms.
Did you find this article useful? Share with your friends and family to help them stay safe from ticks!
If you have Lyme Disease, you know how life-altering it could be. You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy—let alone those you care about. Share this blog to show others how they can prevent Lyme Disease!