LYME DISEASE CHALLENGE
Awareness Is The Greatest Agent For Change
Lyme Disease – Understanding the Basics
Do You Know what Lyme Disease is? Don’t feel bad, if you don’t. It’s not like the common cold we have all experienced at one point in our lives. No, Lyme Disease is not all that common, although it’s on the rise. Each year, there are now about 30,000 cases reported in the U.S. alone.
Now, let’s dive into what it is, so you can better understand it. Lyme Disease is initiated by small spirochete bacterium, in the shape of tiny corkscrews. The technical term for this is Borrelia Burgdorferi. Regardless of what you choose to call it, it’s a vile bacterium that can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting victim. And, it can be very complicated to detect once a person is infected.
The main reason Lyme Disease is difficult to detect is because the symptoms can be obscure. They can also be similar to those of other illnesses. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “Great Imitator”. In the beginning, it can be easily misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or multiple sclerosis.
At times, it’s even mistaken as mental illness. The reason for so much misdiagnosing is because the bacterium attacks multiple areas of the body, including the joints, nervous system, muscles, and even the brain and heart.
Unfortunately, if it’s not accurately diagnosed upon inception, proper treatment is delayed…which leads to progression of the disease. If this happens, you are most likely facing Chronic Lyme Disease, which can last for years.
Knowing the Symptoms
There are 2 stages of symptoms for Lyme Disease. The first is the early stages, which often mimics the flu. If you are aching all over, feeling sluggish, or maybe a rash, you might think you simply have the flu, and will it away with a hot bowl of chicken soup.
Most people wouldn’t think of Lyme Disease with the early symptoms, unless they know they’ve been exposed to the possibility. That is why it often goes undetected for a while.
The late stage symptoms can take a few weeks or months to appear. In some cases, it could take a few years to show up. These include, but not limited to:
- Extreme fatigue
- Back pain
- Painful joints
In the very latest stages of the disease, the infection can also attack the heart and brain.
How Does a Person Become Infected?
Lyme Disease is most commonly a result of a tick bite. Unfortunately, ticks are hard to see, because they are the size of a poppy seed. In addition, the bite is normally not painful, so you probably wouldn’t even realize you have been bit.
Contrary to a bee sting or mosquito bite, a tick doesn’t bite and take flight. They latch onto their unsuspecting victim’s skin, and can exploit them as a host for days. However, it takes more than 24 hours before there’s a real chance of an infected tick to transmit the disease. Although, according to the Lyme Disease Research Foundation, only 2% of tick bites result in someone becoming infected.
The only other known way of becoming infected is via pregnancy. If a pregnant woman has Lyme Disease, it’s possible to transmit it to their unborn baby.
Ways to Avoid Lyme Disease
The Lyme Disease Association is looking to educate the public, so the number of cases will start to decline. They are spreading the word on how to recognize a tick or remove it, and most importantly, how to avoid them entirely.
Ticks are often found in wooded areas, but not necessarily all wooded areas. Certain regions are more susceptible. For example, in the U.S. ticks are predominantly found in the Northeastern part of the country. Regardless of where you may consider trekking through the woods, adhering to the following suggestions will decrease your odds of tick bites significantly…
Color of Clothing – Clothing that is lighter in color will help make a dark tick more noticeable. Remember though, ticks are so small, you might mistake them for a spec of dirt.
The Ankles – Ankles are vulnerable in the woods. So, even in the warmest weather, it’s best to wear long pants in the woods, and pull your socks up over the pant leg. Forget vanity for a day.
Repellent – Pick up a decent repellent. The most common ingredient for a repellent is DEET, and there are many options to choose from. Or, for a more natural option, find something with a mix of eucalyptus and lemon oils.
Inspect – Before coming back inside, give yourself, and your pet, a thorough check. If it looks like dirt, brush it off. If it doesn’t come off easily, inspect it further. That tiny particle of dirt just might be a tick.
These suggestions will help you avoid a tick from latching on unnoticed, or at all. However, if you do find one, remove it. But, most importantly, if you suspect you have been infected with Lyme, seek medical treatment and let them know you have been exposed. The earlier Lyme Disease is detected, the better your odds are that you won’t suffer with it long term.