You can’t always be there. But we can.
National Lyme Disease Awareness Month takes place each May. Some people are unfamiliar with Lyme disease. It’s not a condition that affects residents of every state, but it is spreading. While it used to be a disease found mostly in New England, it’s spread to the West Coast.
Here are the facts you should know.
How Many People Have Lyme Disease?
It’s estimated that around 300,000 people end up with Lyme disease from a deer tick each year. The number of cases continues to rise. If caught early, it’s not bad. Not everyone notices the tick bite early, however, if the tick bites an area like the back of the neck under the hairline, the bite can go unnoticed. Not everyone gets the rash, which complicates things.
What Are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?
It’s important to understand that some people never show symptoms. You cannot rely on symptoms alone to know if you’ve been infected. The most common symptom is a bull’s eye rash around the tick bite. The rash typically starts within two weeks of the bite. It will grow to be as wide as 6 inches in diameter and stays for around a month.
Chills, fever, fatigue, and joint pain may also occur, but they often get mistaken for the flu. Over time, the lack of energy may become overwhelming. A stiff neck, headache, and numbness in the hands and feet may also occur. The symptoms can get mistaken for arthritis.
In some people, cognitive impairment occurs. Singer/actor Kris Kristofferson’s Lyme disease was mistaken for Alzheimer’s for several years. Before the correct diagnosis was made, he was on antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, a pacemaker, and pain relievers.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated?
The best line of treatment is a dose of antibiotics within days of getting bit by an infected tick. It’s even better if you remove the entire tick before the 24-hour mark. It takes that long for a tick to transmit the disease.
Preventing a Bite is Best
If you live in an area where deer ticks live, avoiding bites is ideal. Your parents can do that by using an insect repellent when they’re outside in the woods or grass.
They should wear light colored clothing and check themselves for ticks before coming inside. After coming inside, a shower can help get any ticks out of the hair and wash off the DEET found in protective bug sprays.
Lyme disease can be debilitating. Offer the support your mom or dad needs to keep up with errands, household chores, and personal care. Home health care providers can come to their home and help them with everything from medication reminders to meal preparation. Call our home health care agency to arrange regular visits from caregivers.