What is Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread through the bite of an infected tick. It is one of the most commonly reported vector-borne diseases in the United States and is becoming increasingly more prevalent in other countries as well.
Those infected with Lyme Disease often experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic bull’s-eye rash. While the infection can be successfully treated with antibiotics if caught early, it can cause long-term complications if left untreated. It is therefore important to be aware of the risks of Lyme Disease and take the necessary steps to protect yourself from tick bites.
Transmission of Lyme Disease
The majority of cases of Lyme Disease are contracted when an infected tick bites a human and injects them with the bacteria. Your risk of contracting Lyme Disease is therefore directly linked to your risk of encountering ticks. Unfortunately, ticks are most common in warmer weather, so the risk of encountering them is much higher in the spring and summer months. You can, however, come into contact with ticks at any time of the year, even during the winter months.
Ticks are most commonly found in wooded areas, rural areas, and grassy meadows, so the risk of coming into contact with them is greater if you spend a lot of time outdoors. There are a number of different species of tick, but deer ticks are the most common vector for the transmission of Lyme Disease. They are also responsible for the transmission of other bacterial diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease
The signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease can vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the infection. If the infection has been contracted in its early stages, the most common symptoms include a rash that mimics the appearance of a bull’s-eye (this may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches).
If the infection is left untreated, the bacteria can spread throughout the body, causing a wide range of long-term complications, including arthritis, brain and nerve disorders, heart palpitations, and joint pain. If the infection has been contracted in its later stages, there may not be any rash or flu-like symptoms.
Diagnosing Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a serious condition and it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. The good news is that advances in DNA technology have made it easier than ever to diagnose Lyme disease. The DNA ConneXions® Lyme Disease Test is a fast and reliable way to detect the presence of the microorganism. This test uses a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) process to amplify the bacterial DNA that causes Lyme disease.
Treating Lyme Disease
The earlier Lyme Disease is detected, the better. If the infection is left untreated, it can cause a wide range of serious complications, including arthritis, brain and nerve disorders, heart palpitations, and joint pain. Unfortunately, some people may be misdiagnosed with Lyme Disease and prescribed antibiotics.
While antibiotics are a useful treatment for the infection, they are also very effective at killing off beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can lead to digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.
It is therefore important to talk to your doctor before taking antibiotics to ensure that they are the right treatment for your symptoms. Taking antibiotics when they are not necessary can cause additional health problems, including the development of antibiotic resistance.
Complications of Lyme Disease
The most common complications of untreated Lyme Disease are arthritis, brain and nerve disorders, heart palpitations, and joint pain. Unfortunately, there are also a number of rare complications that can occur, including heart rhythm abnormalities, severe headaches, and paralysis. The risk of developing long-term complications from Lyme Disease is greater if the infection is not treated in its early stages.
Prevention and Protection from Lyme Disease
The best way to protect yourself from Lyme Disease is to take the necessary precautions to prevent yourself from being bitten by ticks. You should wear long trousers and shirts that cover your legs and arms, especially when you’re in wooded areas. You should also wear a hat to protect your head and use insect repellent to repel ticks. You should also check your body for ticks every day, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
It is recommended that you do a full body check once a day, especially if you’re in an area where ticks are common. Check the areas between your knees, behind your ears, and your hairline, as ticks are often found in these locations.
If you find a tick on your body, make sure to remove it as soon as possible. You can use tweezers to gently pull the tick out of your skin. It is recommended that you do not use hot water, oil, or other folk remedies to remove a tick, as these methods are unlikely to be successful.
Lyme Disease Statistics
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of people who contract Lyme Disease every year, as many cases go unreported. In the United States, approximately 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease are diagnosed each year. The numbers are even higher in Canada, where approximately 45,000 cases are diagnosed each year. In the United Kingdom, approximately 7,000 cases of Lyme Disease are diagnosed each year. In Australia, the number of reported cases of Lyme Disease is less than 100 annually.
Lyme Disease Research
There is currently a lot of research being conducted on Lyme Disease, including the development of new testing methods, better antibiotics, and improved preventative measures. Researchers are also looking into ways to treat the infection after it has been contracted.
There are also a number of charities that provide support and advice to those who have contracted Lyme Disease. These organizations also help to fund research into the causes and treatment of the infection. Visit LymeLight Foundation, LymeDisease.org, or Global Lyme Alliance to learn more about support groups in your area.
This article is provided by our sister company, DNA ConneXions®. DNA ConneXions® provides five types of DNA tests to patients and their practitioners in order to help identify underlying health conditions.