Lyme Disease: Symptoms and Treatment

Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacteria transmitted to humans after being bitten by a blacklegged tick. Left untreated, Lyme disease can have serious health consequences. Knowing the symptoms of Lyme disease is important for all people to know, especially outdoor enthusiasts.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

The symptoms of Lyme disease worsen as the infection (bacteria) moves further through a victim’s bloodstream. The initial symptom of Lyme disease is the prevalence of a skin rash. This skin rash, which is characterized by a large red ring around the site of the tick’s bite, is an important early warning sign to receive treatment for Lyme disease. Some patients never experience this rash, and are unaware of infection until secondary symptoms occur (CDC).

By report – The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) identifies additional symptoms of Lyme disease as fever, headache, fatigue as well as persistence of the characteristic rash. A swollen and painful feeling in the joints is also a common symptom of Lyme disease.

As the infection moves further through a patient’s bloodstream untreated, the heart and nervous system will become affected. The bacteria can inflame the heart tissue, which leads to off-beat rhythms and potential heart attack. Flu-like symptoms increase, and joints become painfully swollen.

Left untreated, the bacteria will eventually begin to infect the brain. While it is rare for Lyme disease to go this far without treatment, once in the brain the infection can lead to loss of motor skills and nerve damage.

Treatment of Lyme Disease

The Mayo Clinic identifies two popular types of treatment after Lyme disease is diagnosed: Oral antibiotics and intravenous antibiotics. Bismacine is a Lyme disease treatment prescribed by alternative medicine practitioners, but the U.S. FDA warns patients to avoid using the drug as it may lead to heart and kidney failure due to bismuth poisoning.

Oral antibiotics are the most popular form of treatment for Lyme disease victims. The regime is often two to three weeks long, and is proven to eliminate the bacteria and the symptoms (Mayo Clinic).

Intravenous antibiotics are used in cases where the bacterium has spread quickly, or where the symptoms are especially severe. The intravenous treatment is also a two to three week regime, and is consider a more drastic measure for treating Lyme disease.

Those who are active outdoors whether cleaning the backyard or camping in the woods should always been on the lookout for ticks. Friends and partners are encouraged to check each other for ticks after outings, especially during tick season. Ticks are most prevalent in warmer months, and appear in the northern hemisphere from April to October.

Early detection and awareness of Lyme disease, and ticks in general, can help keep a trip into the great outdoors from becoming a trip to the not-so-great hospital room.

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