Ticks are tiny insects, harmless right? Absolutely not!
These tiny vampires can be life altering and life threatening. I know for a fact because my Father has permanent nerve damage from Lyme Disease. To help try to prevent this nasty disease from spreading, I’ve compiled the basic information to educate everyone on how to stay protected. Starting with the signs and symptoms to the diagnosis to how to prevent yourself from getting infected. Lyme Disease in most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics if caught early, but what happens if you’re seeing worsened symptoms? How do you know if you are displaying symptoms?
Signs & Symptoms
The first thing you should do when you get bit is to remove the tick and get yourself on antibiotics, in most cases it will prevent the Lyme from infecting your body, but what if it doesn’t? What if it’s already spread in your body? The first signs (3-30 days after being bitten) you can experience fevers, chills, headaches, an achy body and swollen lymph nodes. You will most likely see a bulls-eye rash at the bite location. At this early stage of signs, you should go see a doctor right away. If your noticing your symptoms getting worse after seeing a doctor like extreme pain, intense heartbeat, sever arthritis, dizziness and or any nerve pain go back right away because the disease may still be in your body and spreading.
The diagnosis of Lyme Disease is based on the signs and symptoms and ultimately laboratory blood tests. When and if you’re diagnosed, the treatment will consist of antibiotics if in the early stages. If you have a more intense diagnosis like neurological or cardiac illness you may need a stronger form of treatment. In a few cases, if your experiencing symptoms repeatedly, you can be diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease, which I know is serious because my Father has it. It’s not pleasant, the residual damage can be sever, but if you keep up with the treatments it can be stabilized for the most part.
So, what are the chances of being bitten by an infected tick? Statistics show in 2015, 95% of all Lyme Disease cases were found in the Northeastern region of the United States and also Upper Midwest United States. That’s around 30,000 cases per year. With such a high statistic, how do you prevent it from spreading? To prevent getting bit on your body, try to avoid brush or high grassed areas, if you hunt or live near these areas protect yourself by wearing repellent, treat your clothes and boots with permethrin. First thing when you get home, check your body. Immediately put your clothes in the wash, wash in hot water to kill any ticks hiding in the fabric. Protect your pets, check them daily, give your dog a tick prevention treatment (collars, sprays or topical treatments.) I use the topical treatment on my dog and it works great. Protect your home and lawn by keeping your grass cut short. If you live near a thick wooded area, place a large barrier of wood chips around your property. Spray pesticides on furniture or around decking. Image Credit to Center for Disease Control
What if you do get bit? What do you do? Well, first don’t panic. Second, grab a pair of tweezers, you can get specialized tick removers at your local vet’s office, but tweezers will do just fine. Grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. Steadily pull directly upward, not twisting in case the mouth breaks. Once removed, place in a baggy in case the doctors want to test it for Lyme. Once the tick is removed, clean the bite well. If you don’t save the tick then either drown it in rubbing alcohol or flush it, do not crush it. There’s been rumors you can use nail polish, or use heat and fire to make the tick break free of your skin, but that isn’t the best solution. Image Credit to Center for Disease Control
In All Seriousness…
I know from personal experience how Lyme Disease can affect someone’s life. Around 20 years ago my Father was bit by a tick, was never diagnosed but showed symptom’s repeatedly. For years he would get sick then take antibiotics and then a few months later get sick again. Fever, chills, the whole deal for days on end. Then as the years went by his joints became very sore and numb. This is when he got re-tested for Lyme. After years of symptoms he was finally diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease. By the time he was actually diagnosed, the residual damage to his joints and nerves were severe. He has very painful arthritis and numbness in his legs and feet. Ticks are not bugs to mess around with. Keel mindful about your surroundings and keep checking yourself. If you get bit, take care of it fast.