September 27th, 2019
What is Lyme disease?
Despite its innocent sounding name Lyme disease is a nasty condition and if left untreated can lead to some very severe health problems. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans almost always by ticks.
How do I get It?
The only way for a person to contract Lyme disease is to be bitten by an infected tick. This results in their being a 25%-50% chance of becoming infected with Lyme disease despite being bitten. The most common place to get bitten is in areas with long grass that can conceal the ticks. Another way that you may be bitten is within your home if you have been outside with any pets that may have a tick attached to them.
How do I prevent it?
The best way of preventing Lyme disease is to prevent yourself from being bitten, this can be done in various ways the first is to wear long clothes (trousers especially when walking through grassy areas), Or by wearing bug spray (ideally containing DEET).
What do I do if I have been bitten?
After going on any walks, you should ensure that you fully check yourself and your dog if you have one (dogs can become infected with Lyme disease as well) for any ticks.
It can be difficult to tell if you have been bitten especially early on as ticks are so tiny as well as the fact that they may be confused with spots or boils. However, if you look more closely you can identify them by their legs.
If you do notice you or a pet has a tick attached, it is important you try to remove it as Lyme disease can take around 24 hours to be contracted so can be prevented by removing the tick promptly.
How do I remove a tick?
- You should try to use a pair of fine pointed tweezers, then try to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- You should then pull away from the skin at a steady pressure (Do NOT yank or twist the tick).
- After you have removed the tick dispose of it down the toilet and clean the bite area with anti-septic.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Unfortunately, even if you have removed the tick you may still have become infected with the disease. There are 3 stages of Lyme disease which all have their own symptoms and develop at different stages after the infection. However, some people may develop a “bullseye” rash around the site of the bite if the infection has been transmitted. For the people who don’t develop this rash realising you may have Lyme disease is a lot more difficult.
- Stage1: This is beginning stage and Can easily be mistaken for the flu as a lot of the symptoms are similar and may include joint and muscle pain, stiffness, fever and headaches. (These symptoms will develop days or weeks after becoming infected).
- Stage2: The symptoms for the second stage of Lyme disease are more severe and more out of the ordinary they include: pain in nerve areas, weakened or paralysed facial muscles and heart problems like palpitations. (These may develop weeks or months after the initial infection).
- Stage3: This is the final stage of Lyme disease and some of the most sinister symptoms. Including abnormal muscle movement and weakness, numbness and tingling in various parts of the body as well as speech and thinking problems.
If the disease continues to go without treatment it may spread to the heart and lungs as well as the spine. Which could eventually lead to death or paralysis.
What do I do if I have these symptoms?
The first thing to do is to book an appointment with your GP who may give you a blood test to see if it is Lyme disease and then may prescribe you with antibiotics to help get rid of the infection.Lyme disease is easier to treat the earlier it is diagnosed so if you do suspect you have been infected do not hesitate to speak to your GP.