Understanding and Preventing Lyme disease

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is one of the most commonly occurring tick borne diseases in Europe and North America. It is transmitted through the bite of a blacklegged tick that is infected. It is caused by the bacterium burgdorferi. People who have spent time in grassy and wooded areas are more likely to catch this disease since these are the areas where these ticks thrive. Just like any other tick bite, when bitten, one will normally have a red bump at the spot that disappears after a few days. However, Lyme disease carrying ticks normally leave the infected individual with the following early signs and symptoms;

  • In the first month after infection, one might get rashes. The rash is normally in the form of an expanding red area that sometimes clears in the middle, forming a pattern much like a bull’s eye. The rash, while not itchy or painful, might spread up to 12 inches in diameter.
  • The rash could be accompanied by flu-like symptoms, though, with fever, chills, body aches, headaches and fatigue being experienced.

If left untreated, other symptoms appear, including;

  • Erythema migrans (the bull’s eye rash) appearing in other parts of the body
  • Bouts of severe pain on the joints, accompanied by swelling. These pains normally affect the knee most of the time, but the pain might affect other joints.
  • Another dangerous long term symptom is the development of neurological complications after infection. One might develop inflammations of brain membranes, Bell’s palsy, or numbness and impaired muscle movement.

Lyme disease treatment

Generally, Lyme disease treatment is done through antibiotics, with patients advised to start the treatments as early as possible to boost their chances of recovery. For the early stage, doctors will typically administer oral antibiotics. Lyme disease treatment differs depending on the situation. For instance, adults and children older than 8 will normally be given doxycycline, while younger children and pregnant or breast feeding women will have either cefuroxime or amoxicillin in their doses. Typically, Lyme disease treatment doses last between 14 and 21 days, but some can be shorter.

For later stage Lyme disease treatment of the disease, especially if it has reached a point where the central nervous system is affected, doctors normally recommend the use of intravenous antibiotics for between two weeks and 28 days. Although it might take the patient longer to recover from the symptoms, they are effective in eliminating the infection from the body. These Lyme disease treatment regimes, however, might come with such side effects as a low white blood cell count, colonization, infection with other unrelated antibiotic resistant organisms and diarrhea.

Prevention is the best cure, and to avoid Lyme disease, the best option is to stay away from areas where the infected ticks thrive, wooded and bushy areas. When in those areas, it is advisable to cover up, wear shoes, long pants and long sleeved shirts. Additionally, it might help to apply insect repellant with a DEET concentration of at least 20 percent. Families with pets should ensure they are checked regularly for ticks. Once one gets the disease, they should not consider themselves immune. One can get it more than once.

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