Lyme disease is an infectious disease that is spread (transmitted) by a bite from a deer tick that harbors the bacteria. Because of joints involvement, pain and inflammation, Lyme disease is considered a secondary type of arthritis.
What causes Lyme disease?
Not all deer ticks carry the bacteria and a bite does not always result in the development of Lyme disease, even if the tick is a carrier. In most cases, the tick must be attached to a human for 36 hours or more before the bacteria can be transmitted. Ticks can attach to any part of the body, but they are often found in hard-to-see, hairy areas such as armpits, the scalp, and groin.
How would you know if you have Lyme disease?
Many of the symptoms of Lyme disease are similar to other illness, such as viral infections and other types of arthritis.
Early symptoms: The early symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash called “erythema migrans” which is a red circular patch that appears at the site of the tick bite usually within 3 days to 1 month after the bite of the infected tick. The patch may grow larger and have a “bull’s eye” appearance with the center lighter as it enlarges. It is possible to develop more than one rash at sites other than the place of the bite.
Late symptoms: The late symptoms include arthritis, which may appear as brief bouts of pain and swelling in one or more joints (especially the knees), nervous system abnormalities, such as numbness, pain, nerve paralysis (often of the muscles of the face), and meningitis (fever, stiff neck, severe headache) and heart rhythm irregularities.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose Lyme disease by:
- Taking a history of possible exposure to ticks in areas where Lyme disease is known to occur
- Evaluating your signs and symptoms
- Ordering blood tests to detect whether you have been exposed to the Lyme disease bacteria
How is Lyme disease treated?
Fortunately, Lyme disease is curable. It can be treated effectively with antibiotics that are given by mouth, or by intravenous therapy for severe cases. Your doctor will choose the antibiotic that is best for you. After the cure or treatment, some people may still complain of swelling of joints, joint tenderness or pain on movement. Using an effective and herbal pain and inflammation reliever such as Provailen has been found to be of great help in such people.