Monday, November 22, 2010

6 Important Lyme Disease Facts

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To be thoroughly educated about Lyme disease, it is important that you learn about its definition and infection, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, complications, and prevention.

Although Lyme disease is not an epidemic, it is worth knowing its nature in order to avoid or treat the disease and prevent further health problems, such as:

Nature and infection of Lyme disease

Lyme disease got its name after its discovery in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. It is an inflammatory disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Human beings get infected with Lyme disease through the bite of an infected tick, such as a deer tick, especially during late spring and early summer.

Symptoms of Lyme disease

A few days up to a few weeks after being bitten by an infected tick, a circular skin rash, erythema migrans and otherwise known as the “bull’s eye” rash, appears at the site of the tick bite. The rash could grow bigger in diameter after a few more days. Other than the rash, you may also feel other Lyme symptoms that mimic a flu and include fever, chills, headaches, joint pains, and muscle pains. In some cases, these flu-like symptoms show without the rash.

When Lyme disease remains undiagnosed and untreated, symptoms could get worse within a month’s time. You will experience more and worse headaches, pain and numbness in the arms and legs, and even fainting and palpitations. Memory problems may start to appear as poor memory retention and concentration. These symptoms will get worse over time if not treated immediately or when medication is not effective.

Diagnosis of Lyme disease

As soon as symptoms of Lyme disease start to show up, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis. Your physician usually identifies Lyme disease through your symptoms, especially with the presence of the rash and your personal history of a tick bite. Laboratory tests are also conducted, such as the ELISA blood test and western blot to diagnose Lyme disease.

Treatment of Lyme disease

When detected earlier, Lyme disease can be treated effectively with oral antibiotics, such as cefuroxime, amoxicillin doxycycline, tetracycline, phenoxymethyl, or penicillin. Erythromycin and azithromycin may also be used in combination with other oral antibiotics. If you have cardiac or neurological problems during the early stage of Lyme disease or during the later stage of infection, you may be given intravenous antibiotics.

Complications of Lyme disease

When not detected or treated immediately or in rare instances when medication does not prove effective, Lyme disease can complicate and cause long-term health problems. Your nerves, joints, brain, and heart may be affected, causing severe fatigue, chronic arthritis, facial nerve paralysis or bell’s palsy, meningitis, heart inflammation, and heart enlargement.

Lyme disease prevention

Prevention is always better than cure. To avoid getting infected with Lyme disease, make sure you cover yourself when going to grassy and woody areas where ticks are most commonly found. Wear a cap, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, and shoes that cover your feet well. When hiking or camping, regularly check your body for ticks, and bathe after outdoor activities to make sure ticks do not stay on your body.

Lyme disease is not that common, so you need not cancel your outdoor activities. The fear of Lyme must not hinder you from enjoying your outdoor hobbies and interests. What is important is that you know all about Lyme disease, especially its prevention strategies and symptoms in order to avoid long-term health complications.

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