Protect Against Lyme Disease Outdoors
When she moved to Barrington, Rhode Island, Andrea Caesar was an active, vivacious 10-year-old who loved playing kickball and hanging from the monkey bars. A year later, Caesar had trouble catching her breath, plagued by migraines and battled constant muscle aches. Although she didn’t know it at the time, Caesar had contracted Borrelia burgdorferi, better known as Lyme disease.
Characterized by fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans (EM), the Lyme infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After a series of brutal illnesses, Caesar was finally diagnosed 25 years later with chronic Lyme disease.
“Chronic Lyme disease is real. From physical and chronic pain to neurological symptoms including paranoia, hallucinations, sleeplessness and seizures, Lyme masks itself with symptoms from 600 other diseases,” Caesar says. “In fact, Lyme disease is an epidemic, and it’s important that people understand the long-term risks.”
Lyme disease patients suffer through uncomfortable treatments very similar to chemotherapy,” Caesar adds. “Health insurance does not cover much of the treatment.” Many people have lost their homes and their savings trying to discover what’s wrong with a loved one who becomes so chronically ill.
As you hike and bike outside this season, be on the lookout for the tell-tale Lyme rash or, even better, protect tick bites entirely by covering up with lightweight, sweat-wicking clothes. Check your furry pets when they come in from outside, and use anti-flea and tick medications.
Watch for these symptoms of Lyme disease:
• A rash that looks like a target practice mark, erythema migrans
• Facial or Bell’s palsy (loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face)
• Severe headaches and neck stiffness (inflammation of the spinal cord)
• Pain and swelling in the large joints of the knees, hips and/or elbows
• Shooting pains that may interfere with sleep
• Heart palpitations and dizziness due to changes in heartbeat
• Swollen lymph nodes at the neck and groin
On the other hand, many symptoms may resolve over a period of weeks to months, often with antibiotics. If you or your loved one suffers excessive fatigue, chills and joint aches, call your doctor.
For more information, read A Twist of Lyme: Battling a Disease That “Doesn’t Exist”.Tags: chronic illness, Lyme disease, prevention, remedies, studies and research, symptoms