Once you’ve been bitten by a tick, Lyme Disease symptoms can take between a few days to a few weeks to show. However, if you were able to remove the tick within the first day of it biting, the chances of catching Lyme Disease are near zero, as the tick will eat before the bacteria is released. Unfortunately, it can be hard to detect ticks as they’re small, and their secretions change your immune reaction so there’s no pain or itch at the site of their bite.
If you start showing Lyme Disease symptoms, they may include:
- Redness at the tick site surrounded by another red ring-this is the tell tale rash of Lyme Disease
- Muscle soreness
As the bacteria spreads throughout your bloodstream, Lyme Disease symptoms may worsen, including changes in heart beat that cause dizziness, pain in various changing body parts, and shooting pain throughout the body. As the infection spreads through the blood it may cause infection in other parts of the body, including the brain, causing meningitis or encephalitis. It may even cause Bell’s Palsy, where you loose control of the muscles in your face, or if left untreated, Lyme Disease symptoms may develop into further paralysis, affecting the legs, bladder (causing incontinence) etc. Shooting pain may worsen and be accompanied by numbness. Various mental symptoms may develop, from a general decrease in cognitive function and memory to full psychosis. Arthritis, especially in the knees, may occur, as well as swelling and joint erosion. Infection may affect your eyes, and you may suffer from severe-sleep disorders (as an effect of the shooting pain and psychosis).
Lyme Borreliosis is difficult to culture in a lab and so, although blood might be drawn to check for antibodies, Lyme Disease diagnosis is primarily based on your doctor’s judgment as to whether you are exhibiting Lyme Disease symptoms. Further consideration will be given to whether you’ve been exposed to areas where there are deer ticks, and if you have a known bite whether the tick was there more than twenty-four hours.
Lyme Disease symptoms and diagnoses can be complicated by a simultaneous or alternative disease transmitted from the tick. Two common ones are Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis HGA and Babesiosis. HGA affects white blood cells, like Lyme Disease, and it also makes you achy, tired, and makes your head ache, but it also lowers the count of your white blood cells and platelets, weakening your immune system; like Lyme Disease it can be treated with antibiotics. Babesiosis can be asymptomatic, or there could be a low fever, in severe cases there can be a high fever and anemia.
Preventing Lyme Disease means preventing tick bites; if you live in an area near a forest or open plains where there are deer, mice, and other rodents, or if you participate in outdoor activities in those sorts of areas, be aware of your risk for tick bites. Wear clothes that cover your skin, including a hat, and tuck your pants into your socks. Check your clothes, skin and (especially) thoroughly through the roots of your hair, as well as that of any pets who have possibly been exposed, for ticks. Wearing clothes that are lighter in color makes it easier to spot ticks before they bite.
If you find a tick, remove it immediately. To remove it, simply pull it out using a pair of tweezers and pinch it gently as close to the skin as possible so it doesn’t tear or burst and spread bacteria. Dispose of the tick without exposing your or anyone else’s skin to it. Follow up by treating the wound with an antiseptic.
If you are exhibiting Lyme Disease symptoms, see your doctor. When caught early Lyme Disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
By Emma Spera