With summer upon us and more and more time is being spent outside, it is important to know some information about ticks and lyme disease. Being aware of this disease and the damage that ticks can cause can help keep you and your family healthy and safe. Although ticks are more prevalent in the northeast and parts of the upper midwest, they are spreading throughout the country and lyme disease is spreading with them.
What is lyme disease?
Lyme disease is spread by blacklegged ticks which are also known as deer ticks or bear ticks. The disease is caused by bacteria from one of these infected ticks. Symptoms can begin impacting your health anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the tick has bitten you and the symptoms will vary depending on what stage the infection is at.
Often times people are infected in the warmer months by ticks called nymphs. These ticks are very small and are very difficult to spot and can easily go unseen. Although adult ticks can also transmit lyme disease, they are usually removed before the bacteria can be transmitted since the adult ticks are much larger and more visible than nymphs. The tick must be attached to you for at least 24 hours in order to transmit lyme disease.
What are the symptoms?
As stated above, the symptoms of lyme disease vary depending on what stage the disease is in. The earlier symptoms to your health tend to include swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint pain, fever, chills and fatigue. Often times there is also a rash associated with the disease that can really be found on any part of the body, not necessarily where the bite occurred.
As the disease and the infection progress the symptoms also get worse and impact your health more negatively. In later stages symptoms tend to include severe joint pain and arthritis, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, severe headaches, stiffness of the neck and even irregular heartbeats.
Lyme disease is treated most often with amoxicillin and tetracycline for a few weeks and other medications may be implemented if the symptoms persist. If caught in the early stages, a full recovery and health restoration is probable. Even after successful treatment of lyme disease, you cans till get it again so it’s important to stay protected and continue to be aware.
This is where the importance of health insurance comes in. Lyme disease is seen as a controversial disease and often times is not covered by health insurance making prevention extremely important. There are bills in the works in order to require lyme disease to be covered by health insurance plans so that patients suffering from this disease can afford to get treatment and regain their health.
Ticks are sneaky and will grab onto something or someone in the outdoors as they pass by. To prevent carrying ticks or getting bitten by a tick, wear long sleeves and pants in heavily wooded areas. You should also take a shower soon after being in heavily wooded areas to wash off any ticks and provide better visibility to see if a nymph is hiding somewhere under your skin.