It’s that time of year again: Spring! The trees are budding, the flowers blooming, and the warm sunshine beckons us out of our homes. Though we did have some bitterly cold days this winter, it was relatively mild, all things considered. Many people count that a blessing; however it does pose a potential problem. Usually, winter is a time when pests and bugs are killed off. With the warmer temperatures we enjoyed may come the unintended consequences of having to deal with more mosquitos, ticks and other such pests.
According to Yale educated midwife-turned-doctor Aviva Romm, “Lyme disease is no longer a rare condition affecting people who live out in rural Conneticut (Lyme disease originated in Lyme, CT); it’s something we all need to think about if we spend any time outdoors, have pets, or even if you or your kids just play in your suburban front yard.”
The Center for Disease Control statistics indicate that reported and confirmed cases of Lyme’s are increasing rather than decreasing, to the tune of 320%, mostly in the Northeast. But, there are also increases in numbers in other geographic regions. In the last few years, at least two people that I care deeply about have been diagnosed with Lyme’s, one in Florida, and the other right here in Alabama.
The best treatment for any disease is prevention, and Lyme’s is no different.
Tips For Prevention:
• Keep grass cut short around your home
• Treat pets for ticks
• Tuck pant legs into socks when hiking
• Wear long sleeves
• Do thorough tick checks on a daily basis if you are outside
• The use of essential oils like peppermint may help deter ticks
What To Do If You Find A Tick:
• If you find it crawling before it has bitten, flush it down the toilet or destroy it by some other means (as a child, my grandmother preferred burning them)
• If the tick has latched, remove it by grabbing with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pulling straight up with firm but gentle pressure. Twisting can leave fragments under the skin, setting you up for infection. Likewise, squeezing, puncturing, or crushing the tick can allow potentially infected fluids into the skin or bloodstream. Afterward, disinfect the skin with either rubbing alcohol and/or soapy water.
• If you have to remove a tick, observe the area around the bite for at least 30 days for the classic bulls eye rash that most often accompanies Lyme’s.
• Removing the tick before the first 48 hours after a bite may be key in preventing the transmission of Lyme’s.
As many as 50% of people never develop the rash, and some don’t even realize that they’ve been bitten. Other symptoms of Lyme’s include fever, headaches, body aches, and increased aching in the joints. Traditional Western medicine prefers to treat tick bites of potentially infected persons with a course of Doxycycline, an antibiotic. Some people respond well, while others do not. Talk with your healthcare professional to determine what will work best for you.
A percentage of the population may also struggle with what’s known as Chronic Lyme’s, which occurs when it is not promptly diagnosed and treated. It is difficult to diagnose at this point because it manifests in so many different ways, effectively sending the clinician on a “wild goose chase” to expose the true problem. The spirochetes can “go into hiding” in various parts of the body, lingering for weeks, months, or even years. These patients may experience a wide range of symptoms including numbness in the fingers or toes, problems with digestion, circulation, the reproductive system, the central nervous system (brain, nerves, and spinal cord) and the skin.
A few alternatives to antibiotic therapy for Lyme’s Disease include herbal therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, nutrition therapy, infrared sauna, and the “Rife machine” which uses frequencies matched to those of the microbe that vibrate it until it falls apart.
Enjoy your time outside, but remember to keep an eye out for ticks, preventing this potentially devastating disease.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN