What is Lyme disease?
Ticks and similar parasites can infect humans with the virus or bacteria they carry after they attach to the human body. Lyme disease is caused by the infection of Borrelia bacteria, which is found in a tick species called “deer tick”. When Lyme disease is left untreated, it can cause neurological symptoms that progress to stroke.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
The most prominent symptom of Lyme disease is a special type of rash specific to this disease. Erythema migrans also called Öküzgözü erythema; is a type of redness observed in the form of the open middle, red edges, and intertwined rings. This image is observed 3 days to 1 month after the tick bite, after which the diagnosis is made. However, it is not seen in all cases. Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary. Usually, they appear in stages, but stages can also come at the same time.
EARLY SYMPTOMS AND SYMPTOMS:
A small, red bump, similar to the swelling of a mosquito bite, is usually observed in the area where a tick bite or tick was removed and disappears within a few days. This normal occurrence does not indicate Lyme disease. However, the symptoms listed below can occur within a month after becoming infected:
- erythema migrans (rash can be observed in more than one place)
- body aches,
- neck stiffness
- swollen lymph nodes
LATE SYMPTOMS AND SYMPTOMS:
If left untreated, new signs and symptoms of Lyme infection may emerge over the coming weeks or months. These can be explained as follows:
- Erythema migrations: The rash can occur in other parts of the body.
- Joint pains: Severe joint pain, especially affecting the knees and progressing with swelling, may be observed.
- Neurological problems: It can happen months or even a few years after infection. Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of the face, numbness, or weakness in the limbs may occur.
LESS COMMON SYMPTOMS AND FINDINGS:
- Heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat
- Eye inflammation
- Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
- Severe tiredness
Even if the signs and symptoms disappear, it is beneficial to apply to the health institution. Because the absence of symptoms does not mean that the disease is over. Left untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of your body a few months or years after infection, causing arthritis and nervous system problems.
What causes Lyme disease?
In the United States, Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii bacteria. Young brown ticks that carry these bacteria are often the size of a poppy seed. With the tick bite, the bacteria cross the skin barrier and enter the bloodstream and cause disease.
In most cases, the infected tick must have adhered to humans for at least 36 to 48 hours to get Lyme disease. Ticks that were later noticed and now swollen in the body probably fed for long enough to transmit bacteria. Removing the tick as soon as possible is important to prevent infection.
Who is at risk of Lyme disease?
The most common risk factors for Lyme disease can be summarized as follows:
- Spending time in wooded or grassy areas: Wandering around wooded areas in areas where ticks that transmit Lyme disease live are risky. Children who spend a lot of time outdoors in these areas are, particularly at risk. Adults with an outdoor profession are also at high risk.
- Wearing less-covering clothes: Ticks stick to the skin very easily. If you are in an area where ticks are common, you can protect yourself by wearing a long-sleeved top and long pants. Do not let your pets wander in tall grass and grass.
- Not removing ticks promptly or properly: If the tick remains attached to your skin, bacteria from the tick bite can enter your bloodstream for 36-48 hours or longer. If you remove a tick within two days, your risk of getting Lyme disease is low.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
Many signs and symptoms of it can often be observed in other diseases, so if you do not show oxeye erythema characteristic of it, diagnosis may be more difficult. Moreover, ticks that transmit Lyme disease can spread other diseases as well.
Especially in spring, autumn and summer, your doctor can inquire whether you are outdoors and investigate your medical history in detail. If he suspects Lyme disease during the general physical exam, he may order tests to confirm his diagnosis:
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test: It is the most commonly used method to detect Lyme disease. It detects antibodies against B. burgdorferi but is not used as the only test for diagnosis as it can sometimes give false-positive results.
Western blot test: If the ELISA test is positive, this test is usually done to confirm the diagnosis. Western blot detects antibodies against various proteins of B. burgdorferi.
How is Lyme disease treated?
Since Lyme disease is a bacterial disease, antibiotics are used in its treatment.
- Oral antibiotics: These are the standard treatment for early-stage Lyme disease. Oral antibiotics generally doxycycline for children over 8 years old and adults; Contains amoxicillin or cefuroxime for young children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Usually, a 14 to 21-day course of antibiotics is recommended. However, some studies show that cycles lasting 10 to 14 days are equally effective.
- Intravenous antibiotics: If the disease has progressed to the central nervous system, your doctor may recommend treatment with an intravenous antibiotic for 14 to 28 days.
How to take action against Lyme disease?
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid areas where ticks live, especially woodlands with tall grass. You can reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease with some simple precautions:
- Choosing long and covering clothes: In wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked in socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, and gloves. Try to stick to tracks such as footpaths and avoid walking over low bushes and tall grass.
- Use insect repellents: Apply insecticide containing 20% or more concentration of DEET to your skin. Remember that chemical repellents can be toxic, so follow directions carefully.
- Take measures to keep your garden free from ticks: Cut tall grass and thickets where ticks prefer to live. Take precautions to repel rodents that carry ticks. For example; stack your winter wood neatly in dry and sunny areas.
- Check your clothes, yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks: Be especially careful after spending time in wooded or grassy areas. Ticks are usually no bigger than a pinhead, so you may not be able to find them unless you search carefully. It will be useful to take a shower as soon as you get inside. Ticks usually stay on your skin for hours before they attach themselves. Using a shower washcloth can help remove ticks that have yet to cling.
- Remove the tick correctly as soon as possible: Gently hold the tick near its head or mouth. Do not squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. After removing all the tick, apply an antiseptic to the bite area.
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