Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It was first identified in 1975 in the town of Lyme, Connecticut, and has since become the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in North America. However, due to the complexity of the presenting symptoms, it is also highly under-diagnosed.
Lyme disease is not limited to affecting just one part of the body and it can have physical, mental, emotional, and general impacts on a person's well-being. It is often a life-changing diagnosis for patients and their families as it is a complicated, misunderstood disease with a lack of research.
Lyme disease is known as the “Great Imitator” because it can mimic symptoms of other diseases such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and Somatization Disorder. The first signs of Lyme infection are often flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, headaches, and body aches, but this is not always the case. Some symptoms may not present themselves immediately. Only less than 30% of patients notice a bull's-eye rash, or may even find the tick itself.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can vary widely from person to person. The most common symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Migratory Joint/Muscle Pain and Swelling
- Brain Fog
- Recurring Flu-like Symptoms
- Blurry Vision that Comes and Goes
- Mood Swings, Anxiety, Depression
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Heart Palpitations
Preventing tick bites is the best way to reduce the risk of Lyme disease. Some ways to prevent tick bites include:
- Wearing long sleeves and pants when spending time outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas
- Using insect repellent containing Picaridin or Permethrin
- Checking for ticks after spending time outdoors, and removing them promptly
- Showering as soon as possible after spending time outdoors can also help wash off any unattached ticks
Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics. The specific antibiotic and duration of treatment will depend on the stage of the disease and the severity of the symptoms. Early treatment is important to prevent the disease from progressing and causing more serious symptoms.
In conclusion, Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to take steps to avoid tick bites, such as wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent. If you do develop symptoms of Lyme disease, it is important to seek medical treatment promptly to prevent the disease from progressing and causing more serious symptoms.
Dr. Anouk is in our office on Fridays and mainly treats patients with Cancer or Lyme Disease. She is an active member of ILADS and LDAA. Due to her additional training fees may vary.