All about Lymes Disease

November 12, 2012

All about Lymes Disease

So what exactly is Lymes disease? It is an infection that is caused by a tick bite and has a few different symptoms similar to those seen in influenza patients, such as fever, aches and pains, swollen glands and drowsiness. Tick bites are often caused when the wood tick buries its head into the skin of the victim. They are parasites that generally live on deer, and survive by sucking blood. The disease can affect your skin, joints, organs and nervous symptoms and may also be referred to as Borrelia.

Lymes disease is caused by a micro-organism called Borrelia burghdor feri found in wood ticks. Wood ticks can mainly be found in large forest areas where there are many deer, and when settling on a human will generally choose moist dark places, although they are happy to attach to you anywhere. Following this, the tick will insert its probe into the human skin, causing a great risk of infection to its human victim. It is important to note that just because you have been bitten by a tick does not mean you are going to be infected with Lymes disease – you should look out for and be aware of the symptoms you are likely to suffer if you do notice a bite. Many people do not notice if they have been bitten, which makes diagnosis of the disease somewhat slower and more worrying for the patient.

If you have been bitten by a tick, there may be a thing called erythema migrans, which is a red spot around the location of the bite and will appear approximately one to four weeks following the bite. This will grow larger and larger, and may have a more pale area in the centre. This symptom is not exclusive to the bite location – some patients have been known to have several or many red spots.

In some older women, several years can pass before they see any effects from the tick bite. Swelling may appear around the site of the initial bite, along with red or blue discolouration of the skin and other general changes to the skin around the area bitten. Lymes disease can also cause complications with the heart, such as inflammation, arrhythmia and heart disease.

Treatment of Lymes disease will involve antibiotics, but depending on the progression of the disease, hospital admission may occur in order to administer intravenous antibiotics. In the early stages of the disease, GP prescribed oral antibiotics will generally get rid of the infection.

Doctors will find diagnosis much easier if the patient remembers being bitten by a tick, or can present the red, spotty rash (erythema migrans). If this is not the case, blood samples may be taken for testing, although Lymes disease antibodies will not typically be found in the blood until two to four weeks after the infecting bite. False positives are a problem with the antibody test, and the Borrelia antibodies may be found in the blood several years after infection. Spinal fluids may be tested to see if the Borrelia have infected the nervous system, and in cases of Neuro-Borrelia, a CT scan may be used to aid treatment.

In around 15% of tick-bite patients, Lymes disease (known as Borrelia) will develop into Neuro-Borrelia, which is very dangerous as it affects the central nervous system of the human body. Symptoms of this progression include back pain, numbness of the nerves around the bite mark and meningitis-like symptoms. In some cases, Neuro-Borrelia has become chronic – slowly destroying the central nervous system. This strain of the disease requires immediate, emergency treatment and will usually involve an admission to hospital.

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