May is here, and that means it’s also Lyme Disease Awareness Month. You’ve probably heard a few basic facts about the disease, and we are here to give you the details so you can help to protect yourself and your family. From the early signs to treatment options, here’s what you need to know.
Spotting Lyme Disease: Early Signs
The first thing that you need to know about Lyme disease is that it’s the most common tick-borne illness, and it’s transmitted by the black-legged tick (or you may know it as a deer tick). So if you spend any time outdoors – especially in wooded areas of any kind – it’s important to know the symptoms of Lyme disease so you can catch it early. The earliest symptom that you’ll find is evidence of a tick bite – which can look like a mosquito bite. Within 3-30 days of your tick bite, at least 70% of people will notice the bite mark expanding into a bull’s-eye-shaped rash that is warm to the touch (but it is rarely painful or itchy). Along with this rash, you may experience fatigue, fever, chills, headache, body aches, neck stiffness and swollen lymph nodes.
Spotting Lyme Disease: Later Signs
If your symptoms go untreated, you may start to notice that the bull’s-eye-shaped rash appearing on other parts of your body, along with joint pain/swelling that can switch from one joint to the other. In addition to numbness/shooting pain in your limbs and limited muscle movement, you could also experience arthritis in your joints, facial palsy (drooping on one or both sides of the face), inflammation of your brain and spinal cord, and eventual impaired memory. You may also develop neurological problems, which can occur even years after infection.
Less common symptoms include an irregular heartbeat, eye and/or liver inflammation, and severe fatigue. If you experience any of these early or later symptoms listed, consult your doctor immediately.
How to Treat Lyme Disease
Once you have been diagnosed by your doctor via a lab test, antibiotics are the only proven treatment for Lyme disease. Your doctor will probably start you on either a 14-day or 21-day round of treatment (depending on severity), with more serious cases needing intravenous antibiotic treatment. In these instances, intravenous antibiotics are used when the disease has become more severe and affects the central nervous system. The more severe the case, the longer the recovery can be, with varying side effects.*
Even after treatment, some patients can still experience muscle aches and fatigue as part of their daily lives. That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant and catch a tick bite at the onset, or – even better – prevent tick bites from occurring. That means protecting yourself and your family when you’re outdoors, including in your own backyard. The most foolproof way is with Tick Shield – which offers year-round protection for your home. Contact us today to learn more about our Tick Shield options (at participating locations.)
*This post is not a health guide. If you are concerned about lyme disease please consult a professional.