Experts say that about 300,000 cases of Lyme disease occur in America each year. But in 2017 that number could rise higher.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a particular strain of bacteria that is transmitted into the human body through the bite of a deer tick.
I was bitten by a tick. Does that mean I definitely have Lyme disease?
No. Not all kinds of ticks carry Lyme disease. Only deer ticks do. And not every single deer tick is infected with the disease. Furthermore, even if the deer tick that bites you carries Lyme disease it is unlikely that you will be infected unless the tick has been attached to your body for several days.
How will I know whether or not my tick bite gave me Lyme? What are the symptoms?
If you are bitten by a tick, remove the tick with a pair of tweezers. You may notice a small red bump where the tick was attached to the skin. This is not a sign of Lyme disease. But keep an eye on the bite area. If within a few days to a few weeks you notice the red area increasing in size or starting to look like a bulls-eye (a clear center with a red ring around it) that may be a sign of Lyme. You may also experience symptoms that are similar to the flu. Other symptoms could include Bell’s palsy (temporary paralysis or drooping of one side of the face) or extreme fatigue.
Should I go to the doctor?
If you are noticing any symptoms of Lyme disease you should see your doctor. There is a treatment for the disease. The earlier the treatment is started, the better the chance you have of fighting the disease.
How can you prevent Lyme disease?
- Be aware of where ticks live and thrive. Be vigilant when you are walking through wooded areas. Stick to the trails whenever possible instead of walking through tall grass.
- The CDC recommends that before you work or play outside you protect yourself and your family with a repellent with at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. These chemicals are most effective in keeping ticks off your body.
- Daily check your body for ticks. Pay careful attention to the head, joints, groin area, and belly button. Look carefully! Ticks are tiny!
- If you see a tick attached to your body, don’t delay in removing it! Be sure to remove all the parts of the tick from your body. Examine the insect to make sure you have gotten the head and all the legs as well. If the tick is still alive, flush it down the toilet or submerge it in alcohol.
- If you have been bitten, keep a careful eye out for the symptoms listed above.
Being vigilant about tick bites and Lyme disease is an important part of keeping yourself healthy. For other ways to work on a healthier you including weight management and bioidentical hormones, contact Dr. Scott.