How to Avoid, Detect and Treat Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks, which tend to thrive in heavily wooded and grassy areas, carry this disease and spread it when feeding on the blood of animals and humans.

Bacteria from a tick bite enters your bloodstream only if the tick stays attached to your skin for 48 hours or longer. If you remove a tick within two days, your risk of acquiring Lyme disease is low.

The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease differ among individuals. Since the disease affects a variety of body parts, not everyone will display all of the symptoms.

Symptoms

  • Rash: A small, red bump may appear within a few days to a month, often at the site of the tick bite. The bump may be warm and tender to the touch. It typically resembles a bull’s eye with a red ring surrounding a clear area and a red center. However, this ring may not appear on some people.
  • Flu-like symptoms: Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and headache may accompany the rash.
  • Migratory joint pain: If the infection is not treated, you may develop bouts of severe joint pain and swelling several weeks to months after being infected.
  • Neurological problems: In some cases, weeks or months after infection these issues may appear:
  • Less common signs and symptoms include an irregular heartbeat, eye inflammation, hepatitis and severe fatigue.

Decrease your risk of getting Lyme disease by following some simple precautions.

Prevention

  • Wear long pants and sleeves in heavily wooded and grassy areas.
  • Apply insect repellent with a 10-30% concentration of DEET to your skin and clothing before going outdoors.
  • Tick-proof your yard by clearing brush and leaves.
  • Make it practice to check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks.
  • Don’t assume you’re immune; you can get the disease again.

If you have found a tick on you, follow these steps for proper removal and post removal care.

Treatment

  • Remove a tick with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick by the head or mouth and pull carefully and steadily.
  • Seek medical attention, even if signs and symptoms disappear. Symptoms may take weeks to fully progress.

If you have more questions about Lyme disease, call the Aurora Sports Medicine HotlineTM at 414-219-7776 or 800-219-7776. The Hotline team can answer a range of questions about topics of interest to people who enjoy being physically active. 

Meet the Author

Marissa Strehlow, MS, LAT, is an athletic trainer at Aurora Sports Health in Mequon and is the athletic trainer for Nicolet High School.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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