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Understanding Lyme Disease

Jul 27, 2015

Introduction to Lyme Disease

Does your family plan to spend time outdoors this summer? The outdoors can be a fun and exciting way to get out of the house, but it’s important to be prepared, as wooded areas can harbor ticks and ticks can carry Lyme disease. Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is an inflammatory disease transmitted from the bite of an infected blacklegged (or deer) tick. Since ticks are most active during the summer months, the majority of tick-transmitted infections occur in the summertime.

Lyme Disease Prevention

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by an infected deer tick. Deer ticks are harbored in wooded areas and high grass. When walking through the woods, it is recommended to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, tucking pants into socks. For exposed skin, spray a tick repellent. Try to walk in the center of the trail to avoid areas of high grass or leaf litters. In the event that you find yourself with a tick bite, the first few hours are critical. Lyme disease takes time to move from the tick to its host, so it’s essential to wash off and check for ticks after coming indoors. If you spot a tick on your skin, here are a few helpful tips on how to remove it:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close as possible to the skin’s surface.
  2. Pull upward with a steady motion. Do not twist or jerk the tick away as this may cause the mouth to break off and remain in the skin.

a. If the mouth remains, remove the mouthparts from the skin. b. If you are unable to remove the mouth from the skin, clean the infected area and let the skin heal.

Lyme Disease Symptoms

If contracted, symptoms will show up within 30 days of the tick bite. Lyme disease symptoms may include:

  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • “Bull’s eye” rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Lyme Disease Treatment

Patients treated with the appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Commonly used antibiotics include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Cefuroxime axetil
  • Doxycycline

However, if Lyme disease is left untreated, it can cause rheumatic, cardiac and neurological issues, such as:

  • Chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis)
  • Cognitive defects, such as impaired memory
  • Facial palsy
  • Heart rhythm irregularities
  • Neuropathy

About Dr. Wu

At The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey, we promote healthy living and active lifestyles. If you or a loved one have been bitten by a tick and are experiencing any symptoms of Lyme disease, it is important to consult a doctor to establish treatment options. Due to the rheumatic complications that can arise from Lyme disease, rheumatologists typically treat it and our very own Dr. Jason Wu is a leading rheumatologist. Board certified in both internal medicine and rheumatology, he is a prominent physician in joint and muscle pain. For more information regarding Lyme disease or to set up an appointment with Dr. Wu, contact us today.

This article was reviewed and approved by an orthopedic surgeon as we place a high premium on accuracy for our patients and potential patients.