LYME DISEASE: THE GREAT PRETENDER
Many People Have Lyme Disease And Don’t Even Know It.
If checking yourself for ticks isn’t a part of your regular routine, you might be leaving yourself open to Lyme disease. Frequently people have Lyme disease and don’t even know it because symptoms don’t always show up right away, and when they do, they can masquerade as other ailments. People who live in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania should be on high-alert because these states have the highest rates of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is much more manageable when caught early. It often goes undiagnosed, mainly because its symptoms are diverse and easily attributed to other ailments. If it isn’t identified and managed early then chronic Lyme disease can result. This late stage is less likely to respond to conventional medications, and can result in ongoing, potentially debilitating symptoms.
"The effects of Lyme [disease] can last a lifetime if permanent damage has occurred before the diagnosis is made. It’s hard to treat after a certain point because the bacteria move deeper into the body to places where conventional medications have a hard time reaching, like the brain and joint spaces. Doctors might try to treat the actual infection until patients plateau or no longer respond to antibiotics, at which point they use anti-inflammatory medication to deal with lasting symptoms like permanent joint damage, cognitive issues, and heart problems. This can be pretty scary. We can help you figure out if you’ve got Lyme disease before it really becomes more serious and makes your every living moment more difficult —But the best thing to do is to prevent it in the first place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US every year. That’s 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the US. However, because diagnosing Lyme can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme may be misdiagnosed with other conditions. Many experts believe the true number of cases is much higher. Symptoms of early Lyme disease may present as a flu-like illness (fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea and joint pain). Some patients have a rash or Bell’s palsy (facial drooping). However, although a rash shaped like a bull’s-eye is considered characteristic of Lyme disease, many people develop a different kind of Lyme rash or none at all. Estimates of patients who develop a Lyme rash vary widely, ranging from about 30% to 80%. For example, a CDC report on Lyme carditis, which can be fatal, found that only 42% of cases had a rash. LymeDisease.org has developed a Lyme disease symptom checklist to help you document your exposure to Lyme disease and common symptoms for your healthcare provider. You will receive a report that you can print out and take with you to your next doctor’s appointment.”*
Lyme disease symptoms often falls into three different categories: neurological, arthritic, and cardiac. The most common symptoms are fatigue, headache, joint pain, and heart palpitations. Then there are different varieties of neurological Lyme disease such as people who say that they can’t think straight, they experience memory loss, or even depression and anxiety. To make it even more difficult to diagnose properly symptoms can vary quite a bit from person to person. Someone might feel tired and have headaches, while another person who has it and feel just fine except for a swollen knee. To complicate things further, here are a lot of different strains, and symptoms can depend on what the tick was carrying when it bit you.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 to 80 percent of people infected develop a bullseye-shaped rash three to 30 days after being bit. The rash is created when the tick bites, then secretes a chemical that thins your blood so it’s easier for the tick to feed (ick). That creates inflammation, which leads to the rash. But you could easily have Lyme disease and never get that exact rash. Since ticks have different levels of spirochetes, which are the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, there are so many manifestations of the rash itself. If you do see a bulleye, it’s a major hint you might have Lyme disease, but you might also get something that looks more like hives or a spider bite.
How To Protect Yourself
Wear long pants and socks to make it harder for ticks to get access to your skin, even thought these guidelines are hard to follow in the hot late-spring and summer months, when Lyme disease contraction rates are higher. Before you head into a wooded or grassy area, apply a natural tick repellent. Ticks don’t like lemon or lavender scents, so although these scents are no substitute for a repellent they can be better than nothing if you don’t have repellent on hand. If you have long hair tie it up and wear a hat to prevent ticks from getting to your scalp.
When you get home, always check yourself for ticks, especially in the warm, moist areas they love to hide, behind your knees, your groin, and even underneath your breasts. If you experience multiple symptoms for more than seven days then a Lyme disease test should be included in the evaluation of that problem.
Take the time to fill out this questionnaire. It might help you to determine that you have Lyme Disease. If you have Lyme Disease, we can help. Dr. Shair has had great success helping people with Lyme Disease for many years. - from newly infected to chronic cases. It is very important to note that the earlier you find out that you have Lyme Disease and get treated for it, the better!
Contact Dr. Shair at (908) 448-2772.
* Source - www.lymedisease.org