With Ticks Spreading, so is Awareness

June 3, 2016

People hiking with pantsNew York may son be adding ticks, tick bites and Lyme Disease to their school curriculums. With Lyme Disease spreading to more counties every year, and diseases related to Lyme Disease popping up, too, it’s worth making sure everyone from East to West, North to South is educated about tick bites, Lyme Disease, and other diseases that ticks can carry!

First, avoid getting bit!

If you’re spending time outside, take precautions against ticks. Anywhere with long grass can mean ticks, even your yard. To help keep ticks out of your yard, set up barriers. Fences that keep deer out, and a rock/gravel/paved/etc. barrier with no foliage between wild grasses and your own. Make your yard inhospitable to small tick carrying animals, from rabbits to mice to voles to squirrels by eliminating attractions like bird seed and places to hide like rock/wood piles.

For hiking and other trips into tick areas, long pants (ideally tucked in) are a must. Ticks won’t jump onto you, but they’ll cling to your warmth then climb their way up. Ticks can be smaller than a freckle, so don’t expect to see them.

Check pets, too!

After a trip outdoors, both you and any outdoor pets need a once-over for ticks. Some of the diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks can make pets ill, too, and if they bring ticks into your house, you may get bit without ever realizing it.

It’s not about the bullseye, anymore.

“Look for a bullseye rash” used to be the standard advice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show up in many cases of Lyme Disease, and Lyme Diseases new, very similar cousin never presents with a bullseye rash! Ideally, you want to find any ticks that bit you and bring them to your doctor or the vet, otherwise, make a note of when you were bit (or just out in nature) to bring to your doctor in case symptoms present.

Early treatment is key, and you need to advocate for yourself.

Lyme disease is spreading more quickly than even doctors realize—and you might need to bring it to their attention. Unexplained fatigue, headaches, joint pain, and other symptoms could be Lyme Disease, so be the one to bring up with your doctor that you spend a lot of time outside, or that you got bit by a tick.

People with weakened immune systems (elderly people, pregnant women, etc.) can show some pretty severe symptoms pretty quickly. But people with just okay immune systems might not have obvious symptoms (while people with strong immune systems might not need any medical attention at all). It’s the people with moderate symptoms who really need to speak up—Lyme Disease causes inflammation that damages joints and organs, and untreated, the damage can build up to become chronic Lyme Disease (you feel the pain even once the virus is cleared).

There’s another form of chronic Lyme Disease, too.

A few years ago, a study revealed that patients who thought they had chronic Lyme Disease actually had recurring (slightly different) Lyme Disease infections.

Two things here: if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, realize you may need to get checked out for Lyme Disease multiple times. You also may need to more strongly advocate with your doctor if they’re the sort to dismiss frequent patients as “whiners” or want to dismiss you as the first sort of chronic Lyme Disease patient who has lasting damage. Having a second infection go untreated because it’s mistaken for the first is a great way to make that diagnose a reality!

Besides advocating for yourself, there’s more you can do:

Summer is a great time to keep your immune system strong! Warm weather means it’s easy to get outside for fun activities that double as exercise, and the sunlight means a boost in Vitamin D levels (but don’t forget your sunscreen). And summer brings with it lots of fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of antioxidants to help counter some of that inflammation.

And don’t forget to give yourself an extra immune boost with colloidal silver! You can even give a little to outdoor pets, too, to help keep them safe while they roam.

Share your tick tips with us in the comments:

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