Lyme disease is a potentially crippling but often misunderstood illness with far-reaching symptoms. Many people are at least passingly familiar with it as a consequence of getting bitten by a tick, but often don’t know what it is, exactly.
Do all ticks have the ability to spread Lyme disease? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the specific variety to look out for if you’re concerned about contracting Lyme disease are the black-legged (deer) variety. One bit of good news is that, in most cases, the tick has to be attached to a person for 36 to 48 hours before they’re at risk of falling ill, making the prevention of Lyme disease just a little bit easier.
If you’ve been bitten by a tick and are worried about the possibility of becoming ill, early treatment is always the best path to long-term health. The Mayo Clinic outlines the rash at the site of the bite and flu-like symptoms that appear in the first stages of Lyme disease. If these are present, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to get checked out by a medical professional even if your symptoms go away. The disease can essentially go into remission for months or even years, coming back to wreak havoc on your body with some of the later-stage effects.
Late-stage Lyme disease can cause full-body rashes, joint pain in the knees especially, and neurological problems caused by a swelling of the membranes that surround your brain. That last symptom may lead to muscle weakness, numbness and even temporary paralysis. Left untreated, Lyme disease can plague a person for the rest of their lives. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for people to go years or even decades before being accurately diagnosed with this condition. It’s often poorly understood or under-identified by doctors, so if you think there’s a chance you may have contracted it at some point in your life don’t be afraid to speak up.
So what are the best ways to avoid Lyme disease? If you’re in areas with close-in trees or tall grass, keeping your skin covered up can go a long way toward effective prevention. Insect repellent can work wonders if you’re camping or hiking, so consider picking up a can before your next trip outdoors. And since it takes over a day for Lyme disease to be transmitted from the tick to you, check yourself thoroughly for any ticks after spending time in one of the above- mentioned conditions. And don’t listen to any old wives’ tales about removing them, just grab a pair of tweezers and gently pull it off. Being proactive about your health is the strongest medicine.