Currently in the United States, there is a very famous Danish housewife who has Lyme disease. (Hint: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.) When she first came out with her story, it seemed no one knew what she was talking about or what was wrong with her. But now the awareness of Lyme disease is on the rise, and more and more cases are coming out.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2013 Lyme disease was the fifth most common Nationally Notifiable Disease. Lyme disease is most commonly found in certain parts of the U.S. For example, Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and upper Midwest.
The 14 states which have the most reports of Lyme disease and where Lyme disease is found include:
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- New York
- Rhode Island
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an illness which you can develop from being bitten by a disease-carrying tick, usually a deer tick. The infection itself is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdoferi. This bacteria works its way into the bloodstream where it can affect the nervous system, the skin, the joints and even organs if treatment is not done.
This year in particular there is a greater threat of Lyme disease because of warmer weather. Disease-carrying ticks are increasing, spread by migratory birds and nurtured by warming climates that allow them to thrive, even in our own backyards. Preventing bites from these ticks is your first defense to avoiding Lyme disease. Furthermore, knowing the facts of Lyme disease will make you better prepared.
Lyme disease: Causes and symptoms
As mentioned, Lyme disease causes primarily results in being bitten by a disease-carrying tick. These ticks are most often found in wooded areas where deer reside. Not all deer ticks are infected with Borrelia burgdoferi, and it really depends on the area to determine your risk. For example, the south of Maryland has a low rate of infected ticks but it increases in the northwest.
Another common carrier is white-footed mice, according to the National Science Foundation. These mice are particularly abundant in forest patches smaller than about five acres (because of fewer predators) – people living near these areas could be higher risk.
If you have been bitten by a tick, you may not notice the bite initially, but Lyme disease symptoms may follow. These symptoms include (in order of progression of the disease).
- Flu-like symptoms
- Joint pain
- Neurological problems.
Additional, less uncommon symptoms may include:
- Heart problems
- Eye inflammation
- Liver inflammation
- Severe fatigue.
Lyme disease: Simple steps for prevention and control
If you’re concerned about Lyme disease, knowing how to prevent it is key. Because ticks are most commonly found in wooded areas, you should prepare yourself when going for a hike or a walk.
If you end up in a wooded area, make sure you’re wearing closed shoes and light-colored clothing. Because ticks are dark, you’ll notice them more on light clothing. Frequently check clothing for ticks throughout your hike; this way the moment you notice it, you can try to remove it. The ticks are brown, and when they’re young, they’re often no bigger than the head of a pin, so difficult to spot. Using an insect repellant can help, and avoid sitting on soil or up against stone walls. Because ticks cannot jump or fly, they need direct contact to latch onto you.
Lyme disease: Home remedies for treating Lyme disease
Lyme disease, if caught early, can be very treatable and won’t leave lasting symptoms. Therefore treatment at first sight is your best form of recovery. While a course of antibiotics is recommended, there are some home remedies for Lyme disease which you can try:
Acupuncture: Because Lyme disease may bring joint pain, acupuncture may be an effective home remedy for Lyme disease.
Exercise: Although fatigue may be a Lyme disease symptom, it may be beneficial to still try to exercise. Oxygen can help destroy the Lyme disease bacteria, and exercising promotes oxygen within the body.
Avoid sugar: We know that sugar is bad for overall health but even more so if you have Lyme disease. Therefore, a first step to treating Lyme disease is to cut back on sugar.
Whole grains: A diet in whole grains may be an effective home remedy for Lyme disease. Whole grains can help balance internal pH balances which may help with Lyme disease.
Reishi mushrooms: A herbal remedy for Lyme disease includes reishi mushrooms. Naturally grown mushrooms offer many health benefits including being anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and a nerve tonic.
Beta-glucan: As a natural supplement, beta-glucan is thought to boost the immune system which is necessary when treating Lyme disease. Always speak to a doctor before taking any supplementation.
Have a safe summer without Lyme disease
If treatment doesn’t start early, Lyme disease can be quite debilitating. Avoiding the bite from a deer tick is your best defense in preventing Lyme disease. Although it may seem like a new illness, it’s been around for quite some time. As cases continue to appear year after year, knowing more about Lyme disease will keep you informed and safe.
By practicing safe hiking and avoiding heavily wooded areas which will increase your risk, you can still enjoy the warmer weather without illness. Ticks are small and you may not even know you’ve been bit. Becoming aware of your surroundings and checking your body for ticks, then, is important to stay safe.
If you do have Lyme disease, try some of these herbs to treat Lyme disease, as well as home remedies, to ease your symptoms and improve your health.
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