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What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is detected through blood screening.
Oral antibiotics are typically prescribed for a patient with Lyme disease.
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  • Written By: David White
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 19 June 2014
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Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that affects several thousand people every year. It commonly advances in three stages, with the ultimate symptoms causing brain damage. The disease can be prevented and treated, often very successfully.

The Ixodes tick carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This tick can be identified by its signature black legs and is found primarily in a handful of US states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Cases have been reported in all 50 US states, however, as well as in Canada, Europe, and Asia. When a tick bites, the bacteria that lives within it “jumps ship” to the person being bitten, and enters the person's bloodstream. The initial result is a rash, and the disease proceeds from there.

The first stage is called the localized stage and involves symptoms that go no further than the area immediately surrounding the initial bite point. A red-ringed rash appears at the bite point and can last up to five weeks. Other symptoms of this stage include fatigue, headaches and general achiness, joint pain, and swelling of lymph glands near the bite point.

The second stage, or early disseminated stage, begins anywhere from two weeks to three months after the initial bite. Symptoms include a rash in areas nowhere near the bite point, severe fatigue and headaches, irregular heartbeat, fever, sensitivity to light, and sometimes even facial paralysis.

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The last stage is called the late stage. The appearance of the symptoms in this stage can range from a few weeks to a few years after the initial bite. Arthritis, especially in the knees, is a common symptom. An extreme complication in the late stage is a decrease in cognitive function.

Lyme disease can usually be treated, and with earlier it's detected, the more effective and less severe the treatment will be. In most cases, treatment consists of oral and/or intravenous antibiotics to combat the bacteria that is the cause of the disease. The vast majority of sufferers experience a complete eradication of the bacteria quickly once the antibiotics kick in. Medical professional also urge prevention techniques to avoid this disease in the first place.

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Discuss this Article

Trisha9387
Post 3

You may not see the tiny tick, or a rash. The tests may be 65 percent accurate, if done too early, if you've had antibiotics, or if your immune system is too compromised, and it doesn't test for all of the strains of Lyme. You can also have Lyme associated diseases. ILADS (an online group, free) has wonderful information. I wish they'd come up with better testing, diagnosis and treatment.

comfyshoes
Post 2

Sneakers41- I agree that those are good tips. But you happen to get the condition; treatment for Lyme disease includes antibiotics like amoxicillin if the condition is diagnosed in its early stage.

If the condition is more advanced than intravenous antibiotics for 2-4 weeks is the required treatment.

sneakers41
Post 1

Great article- I just want to add that wearing long sleeve shirts and pants in addition to wearing insect repellant helps to prevent the development of Lyme disease.

According to the Mayo clinic the insect repellent needs to have a Deet concentration between 10 to 30% in order to be effective. They do mention that children three and under should not use any form of insect repellent.

They also suggest walking on trails and avoiding areas with tall grass.

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