What you need to know about Lyme disease as it's on the rise?

What you need to know about Lyme disease as it’s on the rise?

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Lyme, the most well-known tick-borne disease, is becoming more common than it used to be — at least judging by health insurance data that includes Lyme diagnoses. Our friends at Gizmodo recently treated new data about the (sorry) rise, which roughly corresponds to CDC Estimates. So what do you need to know to keep yourself safe and healthy?

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme is caused by a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorfericwhich is carried by black-legged ticks, Ixodes scapularis. This means that the disease can occur after being bitten by a tick. In many cases (but not always) a dandruff rash will develop around the tick bite.

Symptoms can include fever and chills, and other symptoms later. Some of these include arthritis with joint pain and swelling, headache, facial paralysis, palpitations and tingling, numbness or shooting pains in the hands and feet. The CDC has more details about symptoms here.

Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but some symptoms may persist even after treatment.

How can I prevent Lyme disease?

Preventing the disease is mainly a matter of preventing tick bites. The main defenses here are DEET on your skin, permethrin on your clothes, and checking for ticks after you’ve been outside if you live in an area where Lyme is common. Ticks usually crawl around on you for a while before they bite, so if you can find a hitchhiker before it adheres, you can brush it off (or wash it down the drain in the shower) to prevent the bite.

The ticks that carry Lyme disease don’t just prey on humans; they also feed on the blood of deer, rabbits, mice and other wildlife. (We have more information on this) how to draw find and biteif you’re curious.)

Who can get Lyme?

Lyme is most common in the northeastern US, from West Virginia north to New England; and around the Great Lakes area, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. The ticks that carry the disease spread outward from this area, so you can also get Lyme if you live in a nearby area, or if you’ve recently traveled to an area where Lyme is endemic.

What is the treatment for Lyme disease?

The short answer is: antibiotics. Borrelia burgdorferic is a bacteria and can be killed by a course of antibiotics, usually doxycycline. Depending on where you live and how common Lyme is, your health care provider may want to test you for Lyme disease before prescribing treatment, or they may assume you have it and just give you a prescription to be safe. Not all tick bites lead to Lyme disease.

Sometimes symptoms may persist after treatment, in what the CDC calls post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). The bacteria are gone, but they may have triggered an autoimmune response that’s still going on, leading to lingering pain, fatigue and brain fog. That seems to be happening anyway; the syndrome is still not well understood.

Is Lyme disease a gift from the universe?

Recently a podcast clip is circulating in which two influencers discuss the idea that Lyme disease has an “intergalactic” origin and that contracting the disease is “a gift”. These are, shall we say, not scientifically accepted theories.

Attributing a wide range of symptoms to chronic version of Lyme disease has become a cash cow for so-called “Lyme-literate” health care providers, and some celebrities and influencers have embraced being a Lyme disease patient as part of their identity.

This can lead to expensive treatments, including long-term antibiotic treatments, supplements, IV treatments and other therapies that mainstream medicine would consider unsuitable for Lyme or PTLDS and can even be dangerous. If you suspect you have Lyme disease, see a doctor or health care provider you trust, and be wary of attempts to give you expensive long-term treatment regimens.

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