Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Grassy Branch Farm: May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Due to the extreme importance of this information, I've copied the post from my friend Lisa at Grassy Branch Farm (tick awareness info)


May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Since May is designated as Lyme Disease Awareness month I thought it would be a good time for me to share some basics about Lyme.  Lyme Disease has been in the news a lot lately. I have heard more about ticks & Lyme Disease this spring, both on the radio and in the newspaper, than ever before. Lyme was also a featured topic on a recent  Dr. Phil Show.

Our family has been touched by this crazy disease and I have done a lot of research on the topic over the years.


So let me share some of what I have learned.....

* Lyme disease is prevalent across the United States. Lyme disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states.  Ticks do not know geographic boundaries.  Ohio has black legged ticks. (I personally believe we are just behind on the surveillance of these ticks, therefore doctors are not necessarily on top of Lyme disease)

* There is a big difference between a dog tick and a black legged tick. Lyme disease is carried by the black legged tick.  The black legged tick is very small, about the size of a poppy seed.  Therefore many people are bitten and never know it.


American dog tick with blacklegged tick male, female, and nymph


Black legged ticks next to a penny


* Although the classic presentation of Lyme disease is a "bulls eye rash", fewer than 50% of people ever recall a rash.

* Symptoms of Lyme disease vary from person to person.  Early symptoms are flu like: "summer flu" without congestion, fatigue, headache, fever, stiff neck, swollen glands, muscle/bone pain, swollen/stiff joints. The initial symptoms tend to go away, but as the disease progresses in the body symptoms vary and come and go with no rhyme or reason.  Odd and unexplained symptoms that effect more than one body system occur and  usually have doctors baffled because the symptoms are not related.

There are over 70 different symptoms caused by Lyme. I will attempt to list just a few of the symptoms presented by the disease. (Disclaimer: Just because you have a symptom listed below does not mean you have Lyme disease.  You must do your own research and seek proper medical advice if you feel you might have Lyme disease.)
  • headaches
  • facial paralysis
  • sore throat
  • TMJ
  • double or blurry vision
  • pain in eyes
  • increased floaters
  • ringing in ears
  • nausea
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • joint pain, stiffness or swelling
  • muscles pain or cramps
  • chest pain or rib soreness
  • heart palpitations
  • heart blockage
  • night sweats
  • tremors
  • numbness in body, tingling or pinpricks
  • vertigo
  • insomnia
  • extreme fatigue
  • overemotional responses
  • mood swings, irritability
  • memory loss
  • difficulty thinking
  • testicular or pelvic pain
  • unexplained menstrual pain or irregularity
  • continual infections
  • swollen glands
  • plus many more symptoms not listed here.....
  Important:  symptoms seem to change, come and go and the pain migrates (moves) to different body parts.

To complicate things more, most Lyme infected people are also infected with  one or more co-infections (other tick related diseases).

Lyme disease must be a clinical diagnosis made by a doctor who is literate about Lyme disease (an LLMD as they are often titled).  The ELISA test that most doctors offices use is unreliable and was never meant to be a diagnostic tool.  According to a John Hopkins published study, the test is only 30-50% accurate.

Lyme disease is considered the Great Imitator and can mimic many other diseases. Therefore, Lyme should be considered in the differential diagnosis of MS, ALS, seizure and other neurological disorders, CFS, Fibromyalgia, autism, ADHD, hypochondriasis, somatization disorders, etc. 

Most doctors have been taught to treat Lyme with a 10 day course of antibiotics, but that is not enough. After that short course of antibiotics, many people go onto develop a dessemenated case of Lyme and are told they have everything but Lyme because they were already treated and cured of the disease. 

But, if caught early Lyme disease should actually be treated with 6-8 weeks of antibiotics.  An uncomplicated case of chronic Lyme disease requires an average of 6-12 months of high dose antibiotics.  The return of symptoms indicates need for further treatment.  Many people with Lyme disease require treatment for 1-4 years, or until the patient is symptom free.  The very real consequences of untreated chronic persistent Lyme infection far outweigh the potential consequences of long term antibiotic therapy.

Note: There is a huge controversy in the medical community regarding Lyme disease. The Infectious Disease Society of America feels 10 days of antibiotics is enough and then any symptoms that continue are not related to Lyme or are considered "post-Lyme syndrome." That is why it is important to seek out a Lyme literate doctor who knows how to treat the disease with long term antibiotics, nutritional supplements, and other healing protocols.  Lyme is a tricky disease to treat.  The spirochete (bacteria) hides out in your body and changes forms so to evade the antibiotics and survive using you as a host.


Protecting against Lyme disease:
* Use insect repellents on your skin and on your clothes.  Use an insect repellent that contains at least 25% DEET.  You can also purchase an insect repellent for clothing, gear and tents (not skin) that contains Permetherin. Supposedly if a tick crawls on the treated item it dies. Another plus is that the treated items can be laundered several times and it will still be effective.
* Wear light colored pants and tuck your pants into your socks.  Stay out of leaf litter and brushy, weedy areas.
 * Be sure to check yourself and your pets when you get back in your house. People checking each other can spot those areas you can't easily see yourself. 
* Showering is good, but doesn't actually remove all ticks.  They are very attached!  Put your clothes in the dryer for a half hour or more to kill off any that are in your clothes. 
* If you find a tick, remove it promptly with fine pointed tweezers. Do not squeeze the tick, pull gently and straight out. Do not us patroluem jelly, a match, alcohol,  dishwasher soap or anything else. 

* You can treat your yard with Sevin yard granules.  Read the bag and make sure the granules are effective against deer ticks. Follow the directions and be sure to apply the required amount necessary to kill deer ticks.

Here is a link to a good video from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Although the title of the article is Beware of Ticks in Winter, the video discusses more than just ticks in winter. The 9 minute video discusses where ticks live, how they find their next meal, how to protect yourself, myths about ticks, etc.  It is a very good video that I recommend everyone watch. 
http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Default.aspx?tabid=23808&fb_source=message
If you find a deer tick in Ohio here is where you can send it for identification.  A FREE service for identification and disease testing of ticks is provided by:
The Ohio Department of Health
Zoonotic Disease Program
8955 E. Main St.
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
Telephone: 614-752-1029
Fax: 614-644-1057  

• Ticks can be identified whether dead or alive, but only
live ticks can be tested for disease.
• Place the live tick in a small, tightly sealed container
(pill bottle, film container, etc.) or zippered plastic bag,
along with a few blades of green grass to provide moisture.
• Store the tick in a cool place until it can be mailed to the
above address.
• Prompt mailing of the tick is best. Include a note with
the collection date and the county where the tick was
found. Indicate whether it was attached to a human or
companion animal.
• Contact the Ohio Department of Health’s Zoonotic
Disease Program (see above) if you have any questions
about ticks and testing available.
Well, that is your lesson on ticks and Lyme disease.   Hope I have provided you with some information that will be helpful if you ever find a tick attached to you or a loved one.   Lyme disease is not something to mess with.  Many people have gone through years of unnecessary suffering all because they did not know the potential risks of being bitten by a teeny tiny bug.
The biggest lesson I have learned through all this is that we need to be our own advocates when it comes to our health and the health of those we love.  Go with your gut instincts and don't let anyone tell you you are just imagining things. Continue to seek answers until you are satisfied.











                 





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