Understanding Lyme Disease

Health & Medical Blog

Lyme disease is now present in all 50 states. Caused by ticks and the bacteria they carry, Lyme disease can cause many health-related issues. The sooner treatment begins, the fewer complications a person will suffer. Here is what you need to know.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease can occur when a deer tick or black-legged tick bites you and transmits the bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. The longer the tick stays attached, the greater the likelihood of transmission of the disease. Unfortunately, many people are unaware they have a tick on them for a few days as most people don't feel the initial bite.

What Are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

Symptoms of Lyme disease vary with the progression of the disease. Up to 80 percent of people who have been bitten will develop a tell-tale bullseye rash in 3-30 days. Other early symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever, sore muscles, joint pain, fatigue, and general malaise.

As the disease progresses, arthritis-like joint pain and swelling is common, particularly in the knees. Muscle pain is also common. Vague symptoms caused by nerve and spinal inflammation may occur as well. The extremities may tingle or experience periodic episodes of numbness. Bell's palsy, a condition that causes partial facial paralysis, is another possibility.

Shortness of breath, dizziness, and heart palpitations may also occur. Even cognitive problems such as memory loss may result. The vast range of symptoms Lyme disease produces often make a diagnosis in the late stage difficult.

How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends physicians use a two-step Lyme disease detection test. Only one blood sample is taken. If the first test comes back negative, no further testing is required. If the test is inconclusive or comes back positive, the blood sample is tested again.

The test is checking for antibodies the body produces in response to the disease. However, the blood may not show these antibodies right away. If you were bitten by a tick, had a negative blood test, but symptoms indicative of Lyme disease persists, it is imperative you are tested again. The first test may have simply been performed before antibodies could be detected.

How Is Lyme Disease Treated?

Oral antibiotics are used to treat early-stage Lyme disease. This treatment generally results in complete recovery with no lasting side effects. For people with advanced Lyme disease, intravenous antibiotics may be required as well as other drugs to treat symptoms as they occur.  If you were recently bitten by a tick and feel ill or see signs of a rash developing around the bite, visit your local urgent care center for evaluation and testing. 


30 July 2019

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