Tips For Better Living With Lyme Disease

You Will Get Better!

If you’ve been diagnosed with Lyme disease and are undergoing treatment, you may be dealing with some uncomfortable symptoms and side effects. It’s important to maintain a positive attitude, and remember that treatment with Lyme disease can take some time, but you will be successful eventually!

This treatment period won’t last forever, and in the meantime you can do a few things to manage your symptoms the best that you can. Here’s a look at a few things you can do to make yourself more comfortable during your Lyme disease treatment.

Hot weather  – many people with Lyme Disease find that they get sicker in hot weather.  For this reason if you live in a hot climate you will need to stay indoors (in air-conditioning if you can) during the day, and go outside after the sun has gone down and the temperature has dropped.  Hot humid weather is often more difficult to cope with than hot dry weather.

Hot flushes / Night Sweats – if you are struggling with a Babesia coinfection and are having difficulty getting through the night due to hot flushes and night sweats, I would recommend a small portable fan beside your bed.  When you are hot sleep facing the fan, and when you cool down roll over and sleep facing the opposite direction.  This will help you control your body temperature more easily during the night.

Diet – many people with Lyme disease have to be very careful with their diet.  This is because Lyme Disease affects the immune system, and because of the side affects of the medications used to treat Lyme Disease.  If you are taking oral antibiotics it is vital that you do not eat sugar – this is because oral antibiotics kill all the bacteria in the gut – good and bad bacteria.  If you eat sugar you feed mainly the bad bacteria (they love sugar) and run the risk of getting a clostridium difficile infection, which is potentially fatal.

In order to heal from Lyme Disease it is important that your immune system is functioning at its best.  When you eat or drink sugar based food and drink your immune system is temporarily depressed for up to 12 hours.  Many people with Lyme disease have damaged gastrointestinal systems, and so need to avoid foods that place extra stress on the gut such as gluten (wheat) and dairy.
– via Living with Lyme Disease

A Lyme Disease Story

Everyone’s Lyme disease experience is their own. Let’s take a look at a story from a hunter who contracted the disease, and how he handled his diagnosis.

Chad Davis shares how he was tested, “I went in to the walk in clinic to be tested for the flu. It came back negative. I honestly told them about me being in the woods a lot and that I had been bitten several times already in the year. They didn’t run a Lyme test. They actually thought I had a prostate infection, even though not a lot pointed to that diagnosis.”

“They put me on a 14-day round of antibiotics for the supposed prostate infection,” Chad says. “At 14 days, I was even worse. After the 14th day, I went to my family doctor and asked them to run a basic blood test and to run a Lyme test. By that time, I had remembered the tick that had been on me for about 48 hours from my Kentucky hunt. I actually work for BioRad Laboratories, and believe it or not, BioRad makes one of the most popular test assays for Lyme.

“The kit is very sensitive and specific to detect the IgG and IgM antibodies to Lyme,” Chad explains.

“IgM antibodies are produced rapidly by our bodies to attack the presence of Lyme or other diseases. That is usually when one has the fever and chill symptoms. Those antibodies will drop in number and the body will the produce IgM antibodies. These can simply cause one to feel weak and lethargic.

“Most labs check to see if someone had contracted a particular disease a long while ago, by checking/testing for IgM antibodies. For early, more immediate detection, IgG antibody assays (tests) are used. The BioRad test actually will test for both antibody types, IgG and IgM, for early or late detection that other tests may miss.

“Luckily, this is the assay/test kit used to detect and diagnose my contraction of the disease. I was glad that I knew where my testing was going to be conducted! Two days later I got the call that I was tested positive for Lyme.”
– via North American Whitetail

Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? Have you ever gotten a tick bite?

The Great Imitator – How Lyme Disease Can Hide

Lyme Disease Masquerades as Other Conditions

One of the most troubling things about Lyme disease is the difficulty of diagnosis. If you suspect you have Lyme disease, seeking out a doctor who has Lyme experience would be a wise choice. Let’s take a look at how Lyme disease can be diagnosed as other illnesses.

Because the disease is so complex, and symptoms are similar to so many illnesses, Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed. Thus, patients who are being treated for other illnesses without success, such as hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, should consider Lyme disease as a possible cause.

What tests do I need?

A number of lab tests can be done to determine if a patient has Lyme disease, including the Western Blot and the ELISA test. But even if a patient is tested, standard testing will miss more than 90% of chronic Lyme cases. It is important to note, too, that standard Lyme disease tests are not reliable in the first few weeks following infection, because the patient’s immune system has not yet produced enough antibodies to be detected by lab tests. Additionally, proper interpretation of lab tests require that physicians have adequate understanding and specialized training on the test, the stage of illness, and the likelihood that the patient has the disease, which many doctors do not have.

The latest in Lyme testing is a newly developed and validated Lyme culture test created by Dr. Joseph Burrascano, a renowned Lyme disease specialist. Most lab tests look for the body’s response to the to the infection, or production of antibodies. The Lyme culture tests, in contrast, actually allows the Lyme bacteria to be grown outside the body in cultures, something that has not been capable until very recently. The new Lyme culture tests not only can help diagnose new cases of Lyme disease, but also can prove that lingering symptoms of Lyme disease are not due to post-Lyme syndrome, as some doctors may presume, but instead are due to the presence of active Lyme disease that has been inadequately treated.
– via Holtorf Medical Group

It’s Not All In Your Head

Sometimes, sufferers of Lyme disease aren’t diagnosed properly and instead are told that they’re symptoms are psychological. This is a real tragedy, since successful treatment is always easier, the earlier you catch the Lyme disease. If you are experiencing symptoms and your doctor can’t find a diagnosis, it makes sense to insist on considering Lyme disease as the culprit – and to seek out a Lyme disease expert to do that testing, when possible. Here’s a closer look at how Lyme disease has managed to stay invisible in many patients.

 The Invisible Illness

Many Lyme patients who battle this disease on a daily basis appear healthy, which is why Lyme disease has been called “the invisible illness.” They often “look good,” and their blood work appears normal, but their internal experience is a far different story. Patients struggling with Lyme disease usually become adept at hiding their pain from others as a way to cope and restore some degree of normalcy to their lives.

Part of the problem with diagnosing and treating Lyme disease is that it is so easy to misdiagnose.

Lyme disease is called “the great imitator,”5 mimicking other disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, ALS, ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, Lyme patients can even develop paralysis or slip into a coma. The only distinctive hallmark unique to Lyme disease is the “bulls eye” rash, but this is absent in nearly half of those infected. Laboratory tests are notoriously unreliable.

Fewer than half of Lyme patients recall a tick bite. In some studies, this number is as low as 15 percent. So, if you don’t recall seeing a tick on your body, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of Lyme disease. According to TBDA3:

“Although the bulls eye red rash is considered the classic sign to look for, it is not even the most common dermatologic manifestation of early Lyme infection. Atypical forms of this rash are seen far more commonly. It is important to know that the Erythema Migrans rash is a clear, unequivocal sign of Lyme disease…”

Besides the rash, some of the first symptoms of Lyme disease may include a flu-like condition with fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, achiness and fatigue. For a complete list of symptoms, refer to the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance6 (TBDA), but some of the more frequent symptoms include the following2:

Muscle and joint pain
Neurological problems
Heart involvement
Vision and hearing problems
Migraines
– via Mercola.com

It’s important to know that successful treatment IS possible and that the sooner you catch it, the easier it will be to treat. Have you, or someone you know, ever suffered from Lyme disease?

Is Lyme Disease Contagious?

Are Tick Bites the Only Source of Lyme Disease?

Know someone with Lyme disease? You may be wondering if it’s safe to get close to a partner or child who is currently suffering Lyme disease. Or you may have gotten the disease yourself and worry about infecting others! Either way, here’s a rundown of how and when people are at risk of contracting Lyme disease…and you’ll be relieved to know, the list of ways to get Lyme disease is pretty limited.

 

Are there other ways to get Lyme disease? 

There is no evidence that Lyme disease is transmitted from person-to-person. For example, a person cannot get infected from touching, kissing, or having sex with a person who has Lyme disease.

Lyme disease acquired during pregnancy may lead to infection of the placenta and possible stillbirth; however, no negative effects on the fetus have been found when the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment. There are no reports of Lyme disease transmission from breast milk.

Although no cases of Lyme disease have been linked to blood transfusion, scientists have found that the Lyme disease bacteria can live in blood that is stored for donation. Individuals being treated for Lyme disease with an antibiotic should not donate blood. Individuals who have completed antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease may be considered as potential blood donors. Information on the current criteria for blood donation is available on the Red Cross website.

Although dogs and cats can get Lyme disease, there is no evidence that they spread the disease directly to their owners. However, pets can bring infected ticks into your home or yard. Consider protecting your pet, and possibly yourself, through the use of tick control products for animals.

You will not get Lyme disease from eating venison or squirrel meat, but in keeping with general food safety principles, always cook meat thoroughly. Note that hunting and dressing deer or squirrels may bring you into close contact with infected ticks.

There is no credible evidence that Lyme disease can be transmitted through air, food, water, or from the bites of mosquitoes, flies, fleas, or lice.

Ticks not known to transmit Lyme disease include Lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum), the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).
– via www.cdc.gov

What About the Connection Between Humans and Dogs with Lyme Disease?

Not only are humans at risk of getting Lyme disease from ticks, but our furry friends are at risk as well. Although there is no evidence of Lyme disease spreading from a human to a dog (or vice versa), you’re both at risk together if you spend time outdoors. If you don’t want yourself or your dogs to get Lyme disease, preventive measures really are important. Let’s take a closer look at how Lyme disease can spread to either you or to your pooch.

Even though the vector tick is called the deer tick, its feeding habits are not restricted to deer. They also feed on dogs and so are frequently in close proximity to people who have dogs. There is no evidence that Lyme disease can spread directly from dogs to humans. However, the same type of tick that could infect a dog can also feed on people. There is a potential for humans to be infected due to the fact that we tend to spend time in the same places as our dogs do. If our dogs are picking up ticks, we certainly could be as well.

When are people likely to be affected by Lyme disease?

In a 2011 CDC study, it was determined that there is a definite association between the incidence of canine infections and human infections. CAPC reports some of the findings from that study:

“Human Lyme disease incidence was effectively zero when the canine seroprevalence was <1.3 percent.”

“Among 14 states with canine seroprevalence >5 percent, median annual human Lyme disease incidence was about 100-fold higher (24.1 cases/100,000 population) and positively correlated with canine seroprevalence.”

In other words, in places where Lyme is more common in dogs it’s also more common in people.

Dogs in endemic areas should be tested yearly. A positive test demonstrates that vector ticks may be present and have the ability to transmit disease to humans. Aggressive tick prevention and control should be practiced everywhere but particularly in areas where these diseases have been demonstrated to exist. Vaccination for Lyme disease is more controversial, but many experts recommend vaccination especially in Lyme endemic areas. – via Pet Health Network

Do you or someone you know currently have Lyme disease?

Do You Need to Know About Other Tick-Borne Diseases?

Ticks Carry More Baggage Than a Commercial Jet – Tick-Borne Diseases!

Did you know that all tick-borne diseases are on the rise? Lyme disease may not be the only tick-borne illness that could put your health at risk. With these diseases only becoming more common, you may need to do more to protect yourself and your family. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to stay protected even with tick-borne diseases rising!

Photo byErikKarits/iStock

This brings me to another point: Since you can’t guarantee that your tick prevention tactics will work all the time, you really need to do daily tick checks on yourself and your kids in the spring and summer.

This doesn’t mean looking under your armpits and calling it a day. Nymph ticks, the ones that usually transmit disease, tend to embed themselves lower on the body in adults, so check behind your knees, in your belly button, and around your genitals, too—even in your butt crack. These ticks are about the size of a poppy seed, so get in there and look closely. For kids—especially those who like to roll around on the ground—you really need to check everywhere on their bodies, including around the hairline and ears.

The good news is that if you do a thorough tick check every day, you should be able to remove most embedded ticks before they can cause illness, because ticks usually don’t transmit pathogens for at least 12 hours; for Lyme, it generally takes 36 hours. (The one exception is powassan or deer tick virus—remember, the one that is Ostfeld’s worst nightmare—because research suggests ticks can transmit the virus within 15 minutes of attaching. But thankfully, this illness is still very rare; only 60 cases have been reported in the U.S. over the past 10 years.)

If you do find a tick, remove it as soon as you can by using tweezers to pull it upward with a steady, even pressure. (It’s generally a bad idea to touch ticks with your bare hands, as their saliva can seep out and potentially make you sick.) If the tick’s head or mouth parts remain embedded, don’t fret; they can’t transmit disease this way, and the body parts will eventually work themselves out. Mather suggests taping the removed tick to a postcard or putting it in a sealed plastic bag along with the date you removed it and then trying to identify the type of tick you found. (If you submit a picture of the tick to Mather’s team online, they’ll tell you what kind of tick it was and how long it had likely been embedded; they’ll even estimate the risk of becoming ill from it.) Then, reward your kid with some ice cream and yourself with an adult beverage, because you just won a battle against a very sneaky and dangerous opponent, small though it was.
– via Slate Magazine

Lyme Disease Has a Cousin

Many people don’t know there’s a very serious tick-borne illness that’s extremely similar to Lyme disease. Very few people know about it because it’s only been recently discovered. Here’s what we know (so far) about Lyme disease’s nasty new relative.

Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, and B. miyamotoi may be a distant cousin of that strain. So far, cases of B. miyamotoi are relatively rare, but doctors believe more may start to emerge, especially in areas where Lyme disease is common, such as in the northeastern U.S. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this past January described 18 people in southern New England and New York who tested positive for the bacterium. The first documented cases of human B. miyamotoi infections occurred in Japan in 2011.

“I think we will definitely see more of it because up to now, people haven’t even know about it. I think that now that they know about it they can look for it,” says Dr. Peter Krause, a senior research scientist in the department of epidemiology and public health at Yale School of Medicine and author of the January study. “It is the very beginning of this disease in humans. We can’t really say now that there is more now then there used to be, because there used to be no cases. I guess you can call it emerging, because there was nothing and now we have something, but it has now been found in humans and it is another disease we have to track.”
– via TIME.com

Which other tick-borne diseases are you familiar with? What are you doing to protect yourself and your family?

Why Lyme Disease Gets So Complicated

There are some medical conditions that are harder to diagnose or treat than others, and more and more people are realizing that Lyme disease is among them. From the various symptoms, ranging from subtle to severe, to other, closely related infections, there is a whole world of confusion surrounding a Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.

Sometimes Lyme Disease Isn’t So Simple

The disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. In the Northeast and the Midwest, B. burgdorferi is transmitted by the bite of a black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis. (In the Western United States, a related tick, Ixodes pacificus, prevails, and in Europe the main vector is Ixodes ricinus.)

Those facts are undisputed. But nearly everything else about Lyme disease—the symptoms, the diagnosis, the prevalence, the behavior of the borrelia spirochete after it infects the body, and the correct approach to treatment—is contested bitterly and publicly. Even the definition of Lyme disease, and the terminology used to describe it, has fuelled years of acrimonious debate.

For many people, though, the clinical situation is far more complicated. Some who have been infected with borrelia don’t notice the rash. Others—up to a quarter of those with Lyme—never even get one. Most troubling, some patients who are treated continue to suffer from a variety of symptoms long after their therapy has ended. Nobody really knows why they fail to get better. Infectious-disease experts refer to the phenomenon, which can affect up to twenty per cent of patients, as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome.

Many of these patients say that medical officials pay little attention to their persisting symptoms, and that Lyme disease is anything but easy to treat or to cure.

Moreover, at least four pathogens, in addition to the Lyme bacterium, can be transmitted by the black-legged tick: Anaplasma phagocytophilium, which causes anaplasmosis; Babesia microti, which causes babesiosis; Borrelia miyamotoi, a recently discovered genetic relative of the Lyme spirochete; and Powassan virus. Some of these infections are more dangerous than Lyme, and more than one can infect a person at the same time. Simultaneous infection, scientists suggest, may well enhance the strength of the assault on the immune system, while making the disease itself harder to treat or recognize.

“I am not sure why we act as if we know the answers,” Brian Fallon told me. Fallon, a psychiatrist who has studied the neurological impact of Lyme for years, is the director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, at Columbia University. “The evidence that something more complex is going on is tantalizing and substantial.”

– via The New Yorker

Part of what complicates the world of Lyme disease is that the statistics are consistently skewed, giving inaccurate state and national numbers for Lyme disease cases each year. This means that a condition that affects far more people than most realize, doesn’t get the funding or attention that many other diseases do. Less funding and research means that the high rate of misdiagnosis and public confusion only continues. Below you’ll see a great breakdown of what the situation really looks like.

The Struggle To Understand The Scope Of Lyme Disease

I spent most of last week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, a 1,500-person meeting of epidemiologists, physicians and microbiologists that is co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Society for Microbiology.

I came away thinking we ought to be a lot more worried about ticks.

Some people already are, of course. The CDC has redrawn its maps of Lyme disease, the disease most commonly carried by ticks, to display how rapidly risk of it is rising in the northeastern US: 260 hot-spot counties now, compared to 69 20 years ago. (Two years ago, the CDC raised its estimate of the number of new Lyme infections that occur each year in the US from 30,000 to 300,00—10 times as much.)

What’s at stake in the tickborne disease explosion flagged by the ESA and displayed in the ICEID presentations isn’t only Lyme disease. It is also other diseases carried by ticks—anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and more—that are less well-known and, because of that, often not detected or treated.

A group of researchers working at the Minnesota Department of Health suspected that the number of tickborne diseases recorded in Minnesota was too low. That’s important, because the state’s count of infections becomes part of the national record, and those numbers determine whether tick-related diseases become a priority for funding. To test the state’s record, the team randomly selected medical charts from hospitals and clinics in a Minnesota county where Lyme and its brethren are common, and checked them for billing codes that would indicate whether the patient was tested for or diagnosed with a tickborne disease. The result: There were three times more cases of Lyme, anaplasmosis and babesiosis occurring than the state knew about.

– via National Geographic

Have you or someone you love been diagnosed with Lyme disease? What has your experience been like?

So You’ve Been Bit – Watch For Lyme Disease Symptoms

Got a tick bite? Ouch! Once you get the tick out, you still have an important self care step left: watching for the symptoms of Lyme Disease. This illness can be serious, so the sooner you catch it, the better. Let’s take a look at some Lyme disease symptoms, as well as some common misconceptions about Lyme disease treatment!

MONITORING FOR LYME DISEASE

Many people have incorrect information about Lyme disease. For example, some people are concerned that Lyme disease is untreatable if antibiotics are not given early (this is untrue; even later features of Lyme disease can be effectively treated with appropriate antibiotics). Many local Lyme disease networks and national organizations disseminate unproven information and should not be the sole source of education about Lyme disease.

Signs of Lyme Disease

Whether or not a clinician is consulted after a tick bite, the person who was bitten (or the parents, if a child was bitten) should observe the area of the bite for expanding redness, which would suggest erythema migrans (EM), the characteristic rash of Lyme disease.

The EM rash is usually a salmon color although, rarely, it can be an intense red, sometimes resembling a skin infection. The color may be almost uniform. The lesion typically expands over a few days or weeks and can reach over 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter. As the rash expands, it can become clear (skin-colored) in the center. The center of the rash can then appear a lighter color than its edges or the rash can develop into a series of concentric rings giving it a “bull’s eye” appearance. The rash usually causes no symptoms, although burning or itching has been reported.

In people with early localized Lyme disease, EM occurs within one month of the tick bite, typically within a week of the tick bite, although only one-third of people recall the tick bite that gave them Lyme disease. Components of tick saliva can cause a short-lived (24 to 48 hours) rash that should not be confused with EM. This reaction usually does not expand to a size larger than a dime.

Approximately 80 percent of people with Lyme disease develop EM; 10 to 20 percent of people have multiple lesions. If EM or other signs or symptoms suggestive of Lyme disease develop, the person should see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

– via www.uptodate.com

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, it’s important to watch for signs of any tick-borne illness, including Lyme disease symptoms. A rash is only the start of symptoms a person might experience if they’ve been infected by a tick bite!

Common Symptoms of Tickborne Illness

The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:

Fever/chills

With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.

Aches and pains

Tickborne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.

Rash

Lyme disease and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI) [among others] can result in rashes:

  • In Lyme disease, the rash may appear within 3-30 days, typically before the onset of fever. The Lyme disease rash is the first sign of infection and is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans or EM. This rash occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite. It may be warm, but is not usually painful. Some patients develop additional EM lesions in other areas of the body several days later.
  • The rash of (STARI) is nearly identical to that of Lyme disease, with a red, expanding “bulls eye” lesion that develops around the site of a lone star tick bite. Unlike Lyme disease, STARI has not been linked to any arthritic or neurologic symptoms.

– via www.cdc.gov

Obviously, if you have any symptom and believe you could have a tick-borne illness, it makes sense to get checked out by a doctor even if you haven’t had a rash. But, it’s nice to know that a bullseye rash is the most common first symptom of Lyme disease! Have you ever gotten a tick bite and worried about Lyme disease symptoms?

Lyme Disease In Dogs

Have you ever noticed a tick on your dogs? Especially when dogs live outside, ticks can happen. But sometimes ticks can bring Lyme disease with them, and it’s a risk to both dogs and humans. Read on to learn more about Lyme disease and your dog.

Risk Of Lyme Disease In Dogs

Lyme can affect dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. The more time a dog spends outside in areas where ticks are prevalent, the greater the risk! In addition to Lyme disease, dogs are at risk for many other different tick-borne infections. To learn more about other tick-borne diseases, visit www.dogsandticks.com.

There are several scary things about Lyme disease:

  • People can also be infected by the same ticks that infect our dogs. If your dog is a tick magnet, make sure you talk to your veterinarian about proper protection.
  • Ticks are not always easy to spot, and it is almost impossible to identify a tick bite—especially if your dog has a thick coat.
  • Symptoms of Lyme disease vary and can be difficult to detect, with warning signs that may not appear until several months after infection.

– via Pet Health Network

If you’ve noticed a flea on your dog recently, it’s important to watch for signs of Lyme disease in your furry friend. Keep a close eye on him, because the sooner you realize there’s a problem, the sooner you can get him the treatment he needs!

What are the disease signs in dogs?

In contrast to human cases of Lyme disease, where three different stages are well known, Lyme disease in dogs is primarily and acute or subacute arthritis. The acute form may be transient and may recur in some cases. The devastating chronic stage in humans with systemic disease has rarely been seen in dogs.

Dogs show sudden lameness and sometimes signs of severe pain. One or more joints may be involved. Joints are often swollen, hot, and painful upon manipulation. Dogs may have fever and be off-feed and lethargic. Some become severely depressed and are reluctant to move. Lameness may recur after a period of recovery lasting several weeks.

Work at the Baker Institute has shown that the incubation period in dogs is longer than previously believed. Lameness in dogs occurs an average of two to five months after tick exposure.

The first stage of human Lyme disease, a skin rash called erythema chronica migrans, is rarely seen in dogs. Some symptoms associated with the later stages of Lyme disease in humans have also been reported in rare instances in dogs. They include heart block, kidney failure, and neurological changes such as seizures, aggression, and other behavior changes.

– via bakerinstitute.vet.cornell.edu

What do you do to prevent ticks on your dog?

Avoid Ticks To Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease

Do you love being outdoors, but worry about tick bites? It can be tough to enjoy all the beauty of nature when you’ve got to worry about things like lyme’s disease from insect bites. Learn how to protect yourself and your family from creepy crawlies so you can enjoy the great outdoors undisturbed!

How Do I Protect Myself From Ticks?

Shield your body: When it comes to bug repellent, look for types with at least 20 percent DEET, says Jordan. (Such as OFF’s Deep Woods spray.) And if you’re trekking to a place where ticks are abundant, consider clothing that’s been treated with Permethrin, an odorless insect repellant that can be sprayed on clothes, tents, and more. Then, once you get home, check yourself all over.

Shield your lawn: “Keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles, and other debris from the yard,” says Jordan. You could also ask a pest management company about lawn treatments, like one that focuses on the edges of the lawn (where it interfaces with natural areas). “This method has the greatest chance of preventing ticks from establishing themselves in yards,” he says.

Shield your pets: Ask your vet about preventive flea and tick treatments — they can help deter pet pests and kill ticks on contact or upon being bitten, says Jordan.

What Do I Do If I’m Bit?

If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers with a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin, says Jordan. Then, be sure to clean your hands and the location of the bite on your skin using soap and water.

Recognize symptoms or just don’t feel right post-bite? See your doc. There are no vaccines against theses diseases, notes Adalja. But Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, as well as less common tickborne illnesses like ehrlichiosis and human babesiosis are all caused by microorganisms and can be treated with antibiotics, says Jordan. The Powassan virus doesn’t have a specific treatment, says Jordan, who says that symptoms are treated on a case-by-case basis.

– via www.yahoo.com

While bug repellants like DEET can make a difference, repellent clothing is an oft-overlooked option that can really help discourage ticks, fleas, and other unwanted guests. Did you know that you can get specially treated footwear to prevent ticks on the ground? Read on for all the DEETS…I mean, details. 😉

Protect Yourself Through Repellent Clothing

Most people who contract Lyme get it from  nymphal ticks, the immature ones. Because nymphs are as small as poppy seeds and their bite is painless, many people don’t notice or remove them.

An excellent way to protect yourself is to wear insect-repellent clothing. The fabric has been treated with a special process that binds permethrin (a repellent) to the fibers. Testing has shown it to be highly effective against ticks, mosquitoes, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges. Protection lasts through at least 70 washings. You can buy an aerosol can of permethrin at outdoor stores and treat your clothing yourself, though when applied this way, the protection will only last through five or six washings.

It’s important to protect your feet, since nymphal ticks are often on the ground. One study showed that people with permethrin-treated footwear had 74 times the protection of those without it. When you spray your shoes or boots, do it outside in a well-ventilated area, making sure you don’t breathe the vapors.

You should also apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Repellents that include DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil are most effective.

While in the field, check yourself periodically for ticks. Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove any embedded ticks you may find. (Don’t douse them with lighter fluid, dish soap, or other such “remedies.” That can make the tick regurgitate its contents into you—not what we’re going for here.)

– via LymeDisease.org

Have you or a member of your family ever gotten a tick bite? What do you like to do to avoid ticks when you’re outdoors?

Do You Need A Lyme Disease Test?

If you’re concerned that you or someone you love might have lyme disease, then you’re likely weighing your options regarding blood tests to confirm that diagnosis. The medical community has some variance when it comes to their advice regarding a lyme disease test – some say it’s worth knowing, others respond that it’s not as accurate as they would like and can result in a false positive. Below you’ll see a breakdown of the most common form of test they run on someone suspected to have lyme disease.

Lyme Disease Testing

diagnosis Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is recognized as a clinical diagnosis that is supported by diagnostic tests. However, a patient may have Lyme disease but not test positive on a particular test.  Many different tests may be ordered for an individual patient for two reasons.  First, the internist will want to rule out other possible causes of the persistent symptoms that may not yet have been considered.  Second, the physician will want to determine whether the constellation of findings in this particular patient is similar to that which one finds with other patients who have Lyme disease.

The two tests most commonly used when checking for Lyme disease are the ELISA and the Western blot.  These tests detect antibodies present in the patient’s blood that have been triggered by infection with the spirochete, B.burgdorferi.  These antibodies however do not necessarily tell us whether or not the infection is still present, as the human immune response continues to “recall” the previous infection for many months to years and thus continues to produce the Bb-specific antibodies.  The indirect nature of  these tests is thus problematic as it does not reveal whether or not infection continues to persist in the patient.

ELISA/IFA.

The Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) is inexpensive, automated, and widely used as a screening test for Lyme disease.   A single number is reported that reveals the relative quantity of antibodies in the patient’s serum against the agent of Lyme disease.  Most commonly, the whole cell sonicate of Bb is used for the ELISA assay, but this assay can result in both false negatives and false positive.  More recently, the C6 Peptide ELISA has been used as a screening assay as it has specificity rates of 90-100%.   Unfortunately, the sensitivity of the ELISA and the IFA (immunoflourescence assay) vary considerably, with estimates ranging from 55% to 90% depending upon the clinical manifestations and duration of infection.

– via www.columbia-lyme.org

Wanting a definitive answer to your symptoms makes total sense, and you should always heed your doctor’s advice about when is the right time to perform any given test. But knowing all of the facts is important as well, and in the case of lyme disease blood test, there is the danger of a false positive leading to more worry and confusion about your condition, rather than less.

The Blood Tests Can Have False Positives

The blood tests can trigger false positives, suggest­ing that you have the disease when you really don’t. This can happen in up to one out of four tests.
This can lead to unnecessary treatment with antibiotics. These drugs are usually safe, but they sometimes cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight. In rare cases, they can even cause dangerous allergic reactions.

Using too many antibiotics can also lead to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. This means that bacteria in your body may get stronger and more difficult to treat in the future.

A false positive can also lead to more unneeded blood tests, urine tests, x-rays, and doctor visits.

If you have a false positive, you may not get treated for the real cause of your pain. For example, rheuma­toid arthritis is a disease that causes joint pain. It can lead to permanent and severe joint damage if you do not start taking the right medicines as early as possible.

– via www.choosingwisely.org

Did you decide to go forward with a blood test to confirm your diagnosis? Or does your doctor consider that particular test to be unreliable?

Why Is Lyme Disease So Hard To Diagnose?

For some, a lyme disease diagnosis is fast and to the point, but for others finding the correct answer to what’s wrong takes more time and tests. It’s hard when you have to live with questions for some extended period of time before getting a final, sure diagnosis. So why is it so hard to diagnose Lyme disease in certain situations, but not others? This explanation from Anne R. Bass, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, might help shed some light.

Why Do Doctor’s Struggle To Diagnose Lyme Disease?

Pinpointing this type of infection is not an exact science, and symptoms are not always crystal clear.

“Many people will develop a bulls-eye rash, which makes it fairly easy to diagnose,” she says. But this telltale symptom is sometimes faint or on hidden parts of the body, and some people don’t get one at all.

“Other early symptoms, like fever or aches and pains, could be attributed to a virus or flu,” says Bass. “So if you don’t see a rash, you might not even go to the doctor—or it’s possible your doctor might not recognize it.” (Some Lyme disease cases go away on their own, she adds, so it’s possible to have had it and never known.)

Bass says that anyone who’s experienced fatigue or joint pain for several months should think back to when their symptoms started, and whether they spent time in area of the country known for Lyme disease outbreaks. A blood test cannot confirm whether you are currently infected, but it can tell if you have been exposed to Lyme bacterium in the past. (It actually tests for antibodies, which develop a few weeks after a person has been infected and remain in the blood forever.) Doctors can use these test results, along with a person’s current symptoms, to make a diagnosis.

“But even these test results can be complex and confusing, especially for physicians who aren’t used to dealing with Lyme,” Dr. Bass says. Some doctors also believe that Lyme disease can be diagnosed without a positive blood test, she adds—although there’s no evidence that these methods are accurate or that antibiotics, in these cases, work any better than placebo.

– via Health News

When you learn about the history here, it’s easy to see that the struggle to nail down a diagnosis isn’t anything new. From the beginning Lyme disease has been slippery to prove, being called “the great imitator” since it can mimic the symptoms of other diseases.

A Long History Of Mysteries

In the ’70s, a cluster of adults and children in Lyme, Old Lyme, and East Haddam, Connecticut, began to develop fevers, swollen joints, and, most mysterious, an angry rash, especially after playing or hiking near rivers. The cases were most prevalent in deer-heavy areas, and scientists quickly discovered a common link: black-legged ticks that jump from deer to humans. Lyme disease was first identified by a medical entomologist in 1982.

Though recovery is usually speedy if you’re promptly treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease is a notoriously slippery condition to diagnose, especially outside the Midwest or Northeast, where it’s most common. Symptoms can mimic the flu and may not appear until about three weeks after infection, when it’s harder to detect (and, like syphilis in the 19th century, Lyme disease is known as “the great imitator” because its symptoms could be attributed to a number of illnesses). Fewer than 50 percent of Lyme disease patients can even recall a tick bite or a rash, so thorough questioning is vital when a doctor is making a diagnosis. Left untreated, the disease can travel to your heart, joints, and nervous system.

– via Science of Us

Have you been diagnosed with Lyme disease? Or do you worry you might have it, but with no medical confirmation yet?