I correspond with people from all over who have Lyme Disease and other tickborne illnesses. Lyme Disease is known as the great imitator because its symptoms mimic those of many other diseases. Many people who have Lyme, were first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, ALS or other diseases. They suffered for years and then found out that they have Lyme Disease. Like the other diseases mentioned, tickborne illnesses are extremely debilitating on many levels. Prompt and proper treatment greatly reduces the possibility of long-term complications; however, many people go undiagnosed for long periods of time and the disease becomes very chronic. I am hoping this post may help.
Lyme Disease is a multi-system bacterial infection caused from the bite of an infected tick. It is the second fastest-growing infectious disease in the United States after AIDS. This is very significant, yet little is being done to educate people about its seriousness and prevalence. Many people who are bitten do not know it because ticks are tiny and they inject a numbing agent so you cannot feel them. Lyme Disease is difficult to diagnose because no test is completely reliable. As a result, it is grossly underreported. Many people have it and do not know it. Often, doctors falsely believe that Lyme exists only in the northeast, when in fact it has been reported in every state.
Below is a Lyme Disease symptom list:
SYMPTOM CHECK LIST
Unexplained fevers, sweats, chills, or flushing
Unexplained weight change--loss or gain
Fatigue, tiredness, poor stamina
Unexplained hair loss
Testicular pain/pelvic pain
Unexplained menstrual irregularity
Unexplained milk production: breast pain
Irritable bladder or bladder dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction or loss of libido
Change in bowel function-constipation, diarrhea
Chest pain or rib soreness
Shortness of breath, cough
Heart palpitations, pulse skips, heart block
Any history of a heart murmur or valve prolapse?
Joint pain or swelling
Stiffness of the joints, neck, or back
Muscle pain or cramps
Twitching of the face or other muscles
Neck creeks and cracks, neck stiffness, neck pain
Tingling, numbness, burning or stabbing sensations, shooting pains
Facial paralysis (Bell's Palsy)
Eyes/Vision: double, blurry, increased floaters, light sensitivity
Ears/Hearing: buzzing, ringing, ear pain, sound sensitivity
lncreased motion sickness, vertigo, poor balance
Confusion, difficulty in thinking
Difficulty with concentration, reading
Forgetfulness, poor short term memory
Disorientation: getting lost, going to wrong places
Difficulty with speech or writing
Mood swings, irritability, depression
Disturbed sleep-too much, too little, early awakening
Exaggerated symptoms or worse hangover from alcohol
Ticks can also transmit several serious co-infections:
--Babesiosis is similar to malaria. It is caused by a protozoa that invades, infects and kills the red blood cells. Symptoms include chills, sweats, fatigue, headache, weakness, muscle aches and pains, dizziness and heart palpitations.
--Ehrlichiosis is an infection caused by a rickettsiae (a bacterial parasite) that invades and infects the white blood cells. There are two types of Ehrlichiosis--HME and HGE. Symptoms include fever, malaise, headaches, chills, sweating, severe muscle aches and pains, nonproductive cough, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
--Bartonella is also known as cat scratch fever and has recently been attributed to tick transmission
Many people who have Lyme Disease have one or more of the co-infections. These illnesses are treatable with high-dose antibiotics. It is very important to see a knowledgeable doctor because many doctors do not understand these illnesses and treat them with outdated protocols. A bullseye rash is a definite sign of Lyme Disease, but only about 50% of people who have Lyme ever get a rash. If you get a rash, it is a good idea to photograph it for documentation. Place something near it, like a coin or ruler, before photographing to give it size definition. That way you have evidence of it if needed later. Here are a couple of sites where you can see some, not all, examples of Lyme rashes:
The best defense against Lyme Disease and other tick-borne infections is prevention and education. There is a wonderful tick repellent you can buy for your clothing at Wal-Mart in the sporting goods section for about $5.00. It is called Repel Perma One. You spray your clothes and let them dry at least 2 hours before wearing (read the label entirely). If a tick even walks on them, it will die instantly. This is for your clothing only. It will last for up to two weeks or through five washings. You will still need a repellant for your skin. Research to determine which products are safe and best for children.
Wearing light-colored clothing allows ticks to be seen easier. Realize that ticks can be as small as the period at the end of this sentence. Long sleeve shirts and long pants with clothes tucked in properly, reduce the amount of skin exposed. Also wear a hat. When coming inside after outdoor activity, remove your clothes promptly and wash and dry them at the hottest temperatures possible. Check for ticks on yourself, your children, and your pets--including under arms, behind knees, behind ears, on scalp, bellybutton etc.
If you find a tick, the only safe way to remove it is with tweezers only. Bring tweezers as close to where it is attached to skin as possible, and grasp its mouthparts. Pull the tick straight back. Do not burn it with a match, do not put Vaseline or alcohol on it, and do not remove it with your fingers. Any of these methods will increase your risk of infection. Save it in a Ziploc bag, it can be tested for disease at IgeneX lab in Palo Alto, CA.
I highly recommend the book "Everything You Need To Know About Lyme Disease" by Karen Vanderhoof-Forschner. It gives a lot of information on the disease, symptoms, treatments, tick identification and prevention, managing your property etc. Most bookstores can order it if it is not in stock or you can buy it on-line.
[This message has been edited by moderator1 (edited 04-04-2002).]
Hello all. I have a question about lyme. I am currently being tested for Lyme disease, am wondering if you have to have ALL of these symptoms to have lyme disease?? I currently have about half of them. Thanks for any help.
[Please don't post personal details. Thanks. Mod3]
[This message has been edited by moderator3 (edited 04-24-2002).]
We live in an area with high infestation of the deer tick and Lyme is fairly common. My husband has come down with some symptoms that have lasted for two weeks and sound to me like it could be Lyme, although he doesn't remember being bitten. He is achey all over and has had bad headaches, is fatigued and constipated (never had that problem before)and has experienced some nausea. He had some discomfort on his lower left abdomen to touch and his GP thinks it could be a kidney stone..but that doesn't explain the muscle achiness. I think that could've been the constipation possibly. Do those symptoms sounds like it could be Lyme?
How do you find a Dr. who is knowledgable about Lyme and is there any blood test that is more thurough in screening for it?
Most likely we do and I will have to look into it. My son just told us today he found a tick on the back of his leg at school (engaged). He said it was reddish-brown and the size of a tack head! Can the deer tick get that large? Now my husband is saying that he (our son) will come down with Lyme. I will keep a close eye but it is very difficult when there is no sure screening test..You almost have to tell the Dr. you are pretty sure you got bitten and push for the antibiotics to be in the safe side.
Saydi, it sounds like your son may have had a lonestar tick, they are reddish-brown. Did he save it? It can be tested for disease. How was it removed? Make sure your son and your family know how to properly remove ticks--with tweezers only. Bring the tweezers as close as possible to where tick is attached to the skin and grasp the mouthparts. Pull it straight back, using steady, gentle pressure. Improper removal can increase the risk of infection.
I don't know what state you are in, but you said there is a high incidence of Lyme there. Try calling your local library, health department, newspaper etc. for information on Lyme support groups and knowledgeable doctors in your area. It is a good idea to see one who has been recommended by someone.
My son showed me a few photos of ticks at different stages he got off the internet and the one he pointed to was the engorged male deer tick..it was red a big YUCH!!! It looked like it was close to 1/4 of and inch as they had it next to a ruler..which would fit his description of the size of a tac head. Unfortunately he squished it while it was engaged..which we told him (too late) that he should NEVER do that. it let go and he flushed it unfortunately. His Ped. said to keep an eye on the spot, watch him for symptoms and we marked it on the calendar. That's all we can do at this point. My husband is going for blood work Sat. AM for LYME.
I don't live in a neighborhood where there is an abundance of deer. However, I have visited friends' homes who live in an area where deer are quite prominent. I also have a pet cat. I'm not sure if any of these could point towards the possibility of having been bit by a tick. But I have at least half of the symptoms that was decribed by "ticker" in the informational document.
What are the chances of having a tick bite that would lead to Lyme disease living in the city? What does a tick bite look like and feel like - would it be painful and visible to the naked eye? Are there any other methods of becoming infected with Lyme disease other than tick bites?
ANY information would help as I'd like to know what I can rule out and what I can suggest to my doctor for having such symptoms. It seems as if my current diagnosis is not all that it is since I'm still feeling many, many symptoms of something. I just don't know what!
Hi Lira, NY is endemic for Lyme Disease, I believe it has the highest number of cases. Ticks can be found just about everywhere--it is not necessary to be in the woods to be bitten. Ticks inject a numbing agent so you cannot feel them on you. Many people are unaware of being bitten because ticks are so small and will fall off after feeding for some time.
About 50% of people who have Lyme will get a rash that looks like a bullseye. If you suspect Lyme, it is important to see a knowledgeable doctor because no test is completely reliable. Contact local support groups for resources in your area (there are a few listed in the back of the book mentioned).
Are ticks those kind of bugs that have alot of feet and cling onto your pet and suck their blood? If so, I've definitely been biten many times by them. But it was years ago. I had no immediate symptoms though. Should I get tested anyways even though it must have been 4 years ago?
thanks for the info. I just wanted to make sure. The ticks I remember getting bitten by were the ones that were sucking blood from my dog. But they would change to a different form after awhile. They would grow bigger and turn into what looked like raisins. Are those the same kinds?