If you have animals or a garden in your home, you may be at risk for Lyme disease . Therefore, it is very important to know what this disease is about, how to attack it and of course prevent it. In this post we show you how to identify the early signs of Lyme disease .

What is lyme disease?

In the United States, Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii, transmitted primarily by black-legged ticks. Ticks are brown or gray in color, and when young they are often no larger than a poppy seed, which can make them nearly impossible to detect. Lyme disease can become chronic if not caught early, so knowing its symptoms and treatments will help you get rid of it.

To get Lyme disease, a tick must bite you. The bacteria enter the skin through the bite and eventually make their way into the bloodstream. In most cases, to transmit Lyme disease, a tick must be attached to the skin for 36 to 48 hours. Dogs are usually the most affected . If you find a tick that looks bloated, it has likely fed long enough to transmit the bacteria.

Removing the tick as soon as possible can prevent infection. The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary and usually appear in stages.

Early signs of lyme disease

A small red bump often appears at the site of a tick bite or after a tick has been removed. This is normal after a sting and does not indicate the presence of Lyme disease. However, signs and symptoms can be noticed within a month of being infected. Here are some of them:

1. Skin rash

3 to 30 days after an infected tick bite, an expanding red area may appear to blur in the center, forming a bull’s-eye pattern. The skin rash (Erythema migrans, chronic) spreads slowly over days and can spread to 12 inches (30 centimeters) wide. It is usually not itchy or painful.

A chronic migratory erythema is one of the characteristics of Lyme disease. Some people develop this rash in more than one area of ​​the body.

2. Flu-like symptoms

These symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, and headache.

3. Heart problems

It can produce an irregular heartbeat. For your peace of mind, heart problems rarely last more than a few days or weeks.

Other symptoms are:

  • Inflammation of the eyes.
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis).
  • Severe fatigue

Late signs and symptoms of lyme disease

If not treated in time, new signs and symptoms of lyme infection may appear in the following weeks or months. These include:

1. Reproduction of erythema migrans

Erythema migrans will appear in other areas of your body if you do not detect the disease at the first warning.

2. Joint pain

Severe joint pain and swelling attacks are especially prone to affecting the knees, but pain can pass from one joint to another.

3. Neurological problems

Weeks, months, or even years after infection, inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of the face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness in the extremities, and disturbance of muscle movements.

Signs and symptoms caused by Borrelia mayonii bacteria can also include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diffuse rashes (rather than a single bull’s eye rash commonly associated with Lyme disease)

When to consult a doctor?

It’s important to see your doctor right away, even if the signs and symptoms go away. The absence of symptoms does not mean that the disease is gone. If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of your body after several months or years of infection, causing arthritis and nervous system problems. Ticks can also carry other diseases, such as babesiasis and Colorado tick fever.

How to prevent lyme disease?

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid areas where ticks live, such as wooded areas and tall grass. You can lower your risk of Lyme disease with a few simple precautions:

Cover yourself well

When you go to wooded or grassland areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked into socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, and gloves. Try to follow the trails and avoid walking through low bushes and tall grasses. Keep your dog on a leash.

Use insect repellent.

Apply insect repellent with a concentration of 20 percent DEET or higher on your skin. Parents should apply repellent to their children, avoiding their hands, eyes and mouth. Be aware that chemical repellants can be toxic, so follow the directions carefully. Apply permethrin products to clothing or purchase pre-treated clothing.

Take a bath after returning from the forest

You need to shower as soon as you return from the forest. Ticks often stay on your skin for hours before biting you. Showering and using a washcloth may remove unattached ticks.

Following these tips carefully will protect you and your family from contracting this irritable disease, which can be life-threatening. We hope these suggestions will be of great help to you.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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