Watch out for new Lyme disease

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April 11, 2016
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

It’s beautiful out there. The snow is melting, the flowers are blooming, and fields throughout the country are begging for romantics to take shoeless runs through them.

But I’d think twice before doing that.

We haven’t just emerged from our winter slumber. We’ve also entered tick season.

And where there are ticks, there’s also Lyme disease.

Lyme is one of the more insidious illnesses out there, because it’s so difficult to diagnose. Lyme masquerades as a number of other maladies.

Worse, because most doctors don’t have a method to treat Lyme, they often don’t test for it either.

And this season is especially dangerous—because, coming out of the Midwestern states, there’s a new variety of Lyme disease emerging that’s even more difficult to diagnose.

Today, I’ll tell you exactly what to watch out for. I’ll show you the best ways to figure out if you’ve got Lyme. And I’ll tell you exactly what you should do if you fear you’ve been exposed.

A fever by any other name…

If you’ve been anywhere you could picture a deer roaming, you’ve been exposed to ticks.

And somewhere between 33% and 50% of all adult ticks carry Lyme.

If you contract Lyme disease, you’re likely to have a few vague symptoms—and maybe one tell-tale sign.

Lyme often presents with a fever and headache. Some patients get neck pain—a relatively unique symptom that can narrow the search for doctors who know what to look for.

And, of course, around 40% of patients get the bulls-eye rash at the site of the bite. If you’re “lucky” enough to see this rash, you can know immediately that you’ve got Lyme.

However, there’s a new strain of Lyme disease that’s been found in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This particular strain can add nausea and vomiting to the list of symptoms. However, in the limited number of patients who have already contracted this new variant, the tell-tale bulls-eye rash is much less common.

Research into this new strain is still in the early stages. This could be a brand new branch, or it might be something that’s been around awhile, but previous tests weren’t sensitive enough to detect it as different.

It might be limited to northern Midwestern states, or it could soon be found everywhere. We just don’t know.

Luckily, this new strain—named Borrelia mayonii—responds to the exact same treatment as regular Lyme disease.

But, even better, here’s how you keep yourself from getting sick—and dealing with Lyme if you do come down with it.

Cover up!

The first line of defense is clothing.

A fresh field of grass may invite you to run around barefoot in it, but that’s a very bad idea.

Instead, if you’re going anywhere that houses ticks, wear substantial closed-toe shoes, socks, and long pants.

In most cases, if you don’t have skin exposed below your knee, you’ll be safe from ticks. They can’t penetrate clothing, and are much more common close to the ground.

However, they can be on grasses or trees that go up higher, so it’s also a good idea to wear long sleeves, and to use a natural insect repellent.

Finally, when you get home from an outdoors trip, check yourself all over. Ticks love to hide in hidden areas, like behind ears, in skin creases behind knees or elbows, or under a layer of hair. Look for little black dots.

If you find one, remove it immediately. Squeezing with tweezers can backfire—if the head detaches, it can continue to infect you. Better to coat the tick in Vaseline, so it has to come up for air. Grab it at that point.

If you catch a tick within 24-48 hours of getting bitten, you greatly reduce your chances of getting Lyme, or any other disease for that matter.

How to treat Lyme

No matter how careful you are, you can still get bitten and get sick.

The most important thing in this case is to find a doctor who is familiar with, and knows how to treat, Lyme disease.

A good sign is one who uses iGenex Labs for testing. iGenex is far and away the best Lyme testing facility, and they use a number of different tests to check for Lyme disease. If you’ve got it, and it’s within the first month, they will almost certainly find it.

If you do have Lyme, getting antibiotic treatment within that first month has a very high success rate.

But if you don’t find it within that first month, treatment becomes much more difficult.

Lyme can go into hiding—making it harder to diagnose and harder to cure.

I use a variety of different methods to attack chronic Lyme—everything from detoxification and nutrition to UV light treatment.

If you’ve got chronic Lyme, it can be very difficult. You’re liable to have a number of symptoms—from achy joints, all the way to high fever, or even death.

If you suspect you may have an untreated case, you have to find a doctor who understands and can aggressively treat Lyme. It may take awhile to nail the diagnosis down, but once you do, you want to be able to move on it fast. Lyme is no laughing matter.

That’s why it’s so important to be vigilant early. Limit exposure as best you can, and watch out for symptoms. Caught within the first month, Lyme can be cured pretty easily.

But once Lyme has a chance to hunker down, it becomes much, much more difficult. Some people never really get rid of their chronic Lyme disease.

So cover up, check yourself, check out any fever or especially neck pain after exposure, and be proactive.

This is one case where being overcautious pays off.

References

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