Summer is a great chance to spend more time outdoors, but outdoors activities can have dangers that aren't immediately apparent. One of these hazards is Lyme disease. If you spend time hiking or outside in areas where ticks may be active, you need to know how to protect yourself from Lyme disease. Safeguard yourself and your family in advance so that you and your family can enjoy your summer to the fullest!
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, left untreated, can cause many different symptoms that develop over a long stretch of time:
Early Signs & Symptoms (3 to 30 Days After Tick Bite)
- Muscle and joint pain
- Erythema migrans (EM) rash: the famous bullseye-shaped rash associated with Lyme disease.
Erythema migrans occurs in 70 to 80 percent of infected persons and forms where a tick bite occurred, on average of 7 days after the bite. It expands over a period of several days, sometimes clearing as it does so, which accounts for the bullseye shape. This shape isn't present in all rashes.
Later Signs & Symptoms
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Brain and spinal cord inflammation
- Nerve pain
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the hands and feet
- Arthritis with joint pain and swelling
- Pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Additional EM rashes on other parts of body
- Facial palsy
- Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat (Lyme carditis)
- Dizziness and shortness of breath
Preventing Lyme Disease
Preventing Lyme disease is a matter of preparation and understanding your environment:
- Understand and avoid areas where ticks are likely to be found, such as wooded, bushy areas with tall grass.
- While hiking, stick to the middle of trails.
- Wear clothing that covers skin, such as pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed shoes, when venturing into tick-heavy areas.
- Tuck pants into your socks to fully cover your legs.
- Wear light-colored clothing that will make ticks easier to spot.
- Use insect repellent; for ticks, repellent containing DEET is most effective.
- If you have pets, speak with your veterinarian about safe, effective options to protect them from ticks.
- When returning indoors, examine yourself, your children, and your pets closely for ticks.
- If you find a feeding tick, remove it as soon as possible. It takes 24 hours of feeding before transmission of Lyme disease occurs.
- Shower after returning indoors, using a washcloth or similar item to scrub your body, removing walking ticks.
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