It’s summer again in the midwest and time to reap the benefits of enduring a long, cold winter. While the unofficial state bird (insect) is already buzzing in my ears, what’s captured my attention this spring are the ticks.
Several news articles have been pointing out that this year will be a doozy in terms of tick populations and that people and their creatures need to be more aware and cautious due to the uptick (bad pun) in Lymes or as the rest of the world refers to it, as borreliosis, infections of borrelia.
Tick bites can and often do contain differing microbes, none of which are good, and protecting yourself and loved ones will be a great first step to decrease the incidence of bites.
Long gone are the days of the tell tale red wheel rash presentation as the sign that you’ve been bitten. Reports from the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (http://www.ilads.org/) state that fewer than 50% of patients with Lyme’s disease recall a bite or a rash anywhere meaning half of the population believes that they are fine when really, they could have an active infection.
The ticks themselves are not what is most worrisome. It’s whatever they’ve got in their saliva when they bite that’s the real issue. These little creatures tend to carry a variety of organisms, many of which are spirochetes. This means that no two bites will produce the same reactions in people or animals or the symptoms that will follow.
Here are just a sample of the possible signs that can arise after the initial bite:
– flu-like symptoms
– fever, headache, stiff neck
– swollen lymph nodes
– no symptoms, which is most likely the scariest of them all
When not properly diagnosed and treated, the condition can progress into more complicated symptoms such as joint pain, neuralgias, headaches, heart palpitations, paralysis, and memory issues as just a few examples. These will of course be unique to the individual based on whatever has infected them as well as how their body tends to react to illness and disease in general. Co-infections are also a factor as an overall healthy individual will react differently than someone who is currently dealing with an auto-immune issue or other disease. That’s why it can be challenging to get a proper diagnosis in western medicine since the symptomology can be so vast and diverse, especially when put on top of layers of symptoms.
It is imperative that you persistently seek out medical care if you believe you may have been bitten (western antibiotics, up to 6 weeks of treatment to catch the organisms at all life cycle stages, as well as supportive herbalism such as Chinese herbs or western herbs which can protect your immune system and work with the antibiotics to expel the foreign organisms.) Using both approaches increases your chances of recovering without having more severe, long lasting health issues.
Working with medical staff who are Lyme literate (LLMD) is also very important. If your practitioner looks at you like you’re crazy, only goes off of the basic blood tests for a diagnosis and dismisses your claims, it’s time to seek out someone else.
It’s also very important to have a health advocate (loved one, medical professional) who is able to stand up on your behalf to push that these symptoms are real and need attention so that you can receive the care needed.
Here are a few additional resources to look at for more information about Lymes and how you can understand how it affects the body:
Mayo Clinic Lyme’s Disease Info
The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society