Health wise in Emery - June 2023

Health wise in Emery

By Shelly Harris, BScN CCRN Rn-C

Lyme disease, not “lime” disease, is a bacterial infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. It is primarily transmitted to humans by biting infected black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks) carrying the bacteria. Lyme disease is commonly found in wooded and grassy areas where ticks thrive.

When an infected tick bites a person, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause various symptoms. It’s important to note that not all tick bites lead to Lyme disease, as the tick must be infected with the bacteria to transmit it.

The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary and may appear in stages. Early symptoms often include a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans, which resembles a bull’s-eye pattern and expands around the tick bite site. Other initial symptoms include fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

If left untreated or if the infection is not diagnosed early, Lyme disease can progress and lead to more severe symptoms, such as joint pain and swelling, neurological problems (like facial paralysis or memory difficulties), heart palpitations, and even brain or spinal cord inflammation.

If you suspect you have been bitten by an infected tick or experience any Lyme disease symptoms, seeking medical attention promptly is essential. Your healthcare provider will evaluate your symptoms, consider your exposure to ticks, and may conduct blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.

The treatment for Lyme disease typically involves a course of antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare professional. The specific antibiotic and duration of treatment may vary depending on the stage and severity of the infection.

Prevention is key in reducing the risk of Lyme disease. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

Avoid areas with high tick populations, such as tall grasses and wooded areas, especially during the warmer months.

Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes, when spending time in tick-prone areas.

Use insect repellents that contain DEET or picaridin on exposed skin and permethrin on clothing and gear.

After spending time outdoors, paying close attention to hidden areas like the scalp, groin, and armpits, perform thorough tick checks on yourself, your family members, and your pets.

Remove ticks promptly and adequately using fine-tipped tweezers, grasping the tick close to the skin and pulling upward with steady, even pressure.

Remember, if you have concerns about Lyme disease or suspect you may have been bitten by an infected tick, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.