Lyme disease is transmitted through ticks and is quite common in North America and Europe. The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi is responsible for causing this disease. The bacterium is harbored by deer ticks, which feed on human and animal blood. Those affected with this disease are known to recover completely with proper treatment, although recovery may be slower if treatment is administered in the later stages of the condition.
Usually, lyme disease results in a skin rash that is noticed at the area of the tick bite. The rash may appear within a few days or may be noticed only after a month. Tick bites usually occur in damp areas such as the belt or groin region. Many people also suffer from tick bites at the back of the knee.
It is important to consult a doctor as soon as you suffer a tick bite or experience any of the symptoms of the disease. Deer tick bites will not lead to lyme disease if treatment is begun early. The risk of developing the condition increases if the tick stays in the skin for a longer period of time.
Lyme disease is mainly spread through deer ticks. These ticks are very small in size and brown in color. This often makes them difficult to spot. Deer ticks cling on to a host and feed on the blood. As they feed on the blood, the ticks start swelling and increasing in size. While they feed, they transmit bacteria to the host. These bacteria are responsible for causing the disease. Deer ticks usually feed on the blood of deer, mice and even small birds. But they do also attach themselves to humans and animals such as horses, dogs and cats. The ticks inhabit bushy and wooded areas and wait for humans or animals to pass by. The summer months are when deer ticks are highly active. An individual contracts lyme disease when an infected deer tick bites him. The bacteria penetrate the skin at the area of the bite and travel into the bloodstream. Before the bacteria enter the skin, the deer tick must feed on the blood and this may take up to 48 hours of feeding. Bacteria are transmitted only by ticks that are attached to the skin. It is possible to prevent infection by removing the tick from the skin as soon as possible.
People who spend a lot of time outdoors in grassy or wooded regions may get bitten by deer ticks, as they commonly inhabit such areas. Children who spend considerable time outdoors and individuals whose professions require them to remain outside are at a higher risk for developing lyme disease. Areas in which mice are commonly found are also places where deer ticks commonly live. The deer ticks feed on the mice and thus transmit the disease. The ticks adhere easily to exposed flesh and people who enter grassy areas without full protective clothing may be at risk for the disease. Pets who wander off into such areas may also get bitten by deer ticks. A tick usually transmits the bacteria into the skin after feeding for 48 hours or more. During this time the tick should be removed properly to prevent infection. In case lyme disease is not treated, several serious conditions can occur such as lyme arthritis or chronic inflammation of the joints, mainly the knee. Irregular heart rhythm, impairment in memory and neurological complications may also occur.
Lyme disease is treated through a course of antibiotics. The standard treatment for the condition in the early stages is oral antibiotics. This helps to treat the infection and prevent further complications. Usually antibiotic medication must continue for about 14 to 21 days. In case the disease has not been treated in the early stage and has now progressed, intravenous antibiotics must be administered for about 14 to 28 days. Intravenous antibiotics may trigger certain side effects such as diarrhea and reduced white blood cell count. In some cases, individuals still experience symptoms such as tiredness and muscle ache even after treatment. The exact cause of this is not known, but it is believed that those affected with lyme disease become vulnerable to an autoimmune response and this leads to the symptoms.
There are some natural remedies which are known to help in dealing with symptoms of lyme disease. These should never be used as a substitute for medical treatment. It is also advisable to discuss with your doctor before using these remedies.
An important point to remember is that even those who have had lyme disease before can still get it again. If you notice a tick on the skin, grasp it gently using a pair of tweezers and pull it out carefully. Once you are sure that the entire tick is removed, dispose it off and rub the area with some antiseptic solution. Ensure that you do not crush the tick while removing it.
Immunity plays a very important role in preventing any disease. The immune system is better able to fight infection when the body receives adequate nourishment from food. Therefore the diet must be healthy and must consist of plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are healthy, you will be able to recover and heal much faster from infections.
Natural treatments such as applying petroleum jelly or a lit match to get rid of a tick do not always work and may even cause the tick to penetrate the skin further. Therefore it is advisable to remove the tick in a proper manner and also seek appropriate medical treatment.