Imagine spending time outdoors having a picnic in an open field, and then a few days later coming down with fatigue, body aches, and the chills.
At first, you might think you ate something that didn’t agree with you, or you might assume you are getting sick.
So you let it go, and without realizing what happened you are unaware you just contracted Lyme disease.
Many people have heard about Lyme disease and assume it is something hikers get.
The truth is, while hiking does greatly increase your risk of contracting Lyme Disease, anyone who steps foot outside is at risk of getting Lyme.
Lyme disease is on the rise in the United States and is usually caused by a black deer tick which transmits Borrelia burgdorferi, a nasty bacterium that destroys the body.
Unfortunately, many people are still unfamiliar at just how prevalent Lyme disease is, so they are unaware of how to protect themselves.
Here’s the scary part – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits to 30,000 cases each year of official Lyme diagnosis. But again on their own website, they admit that other estimates and methods suggest the number is much higher – as in 300,000 cases of Lyme a year!
And if you catch Lyme within the first 30-days you have a chance of beating it back with antibiotics.
But most people never know they have Lyme, as some people don’t even develop symptoms, so Lyme goes untreated.
And when left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious havoc on the body.
The Mayo Clinic reported just a few of the symptoms:
- Erythema migrans. The rash may appear on other areas of your body.
- Joint pain. Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affect your knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
- Neurological problems. Weeks, months or even years after infection, you might develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of your face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement.
And those with chronic Lyme disease often live a life of serious pain.
“Many patients with chronic Lyme disease are profoundly debilitated. Investigators of the four NIH-sponsored retreatment trials documented that the patients’ quality of life was consistently worse than that of control populations and equivalent to that of patients with congestive heart failure. Pain levels were similar to those of post-surgical patients, and fatigue was on par with that seen in multiple sclerosis.”
As frightening as these reports are, you don’t need to live in a cave or never step foot outside.
However, it is an absolute must that you take Lyme disease seriously and protect yourself with these tips:
- Prepare Yourself Before You Go Outside
Don’t wait until after you find a tick on you to start fighting Lyme disease.
Many people think you can only catch Lyme disease if you are hiking deep into the woods.
But the truth is, you can catch Lyme disease from anywhere deer roam. In addition, recent studies show mice are massive carriers of Lyme, and as ticks feast on mice, Lyme continues to spread.
In fact, according to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, ticks that feed on mice are likely to become infected with Lyme, and then can easily transport Lyme to people.
This is a big problem, as up to 90 percent of mice can carry Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme).
So what to do?
To start, avoid tall grassy fields whenever possible. Sorry, the days of running through tall grass are over.
Other risk areas full of ticks include leaves, fallen logs, firewood, and leaning against tree trunks.
Some people have even decided hiking isn’t worth the risk, but if you do choose to hike make sure you wear long sleeved light-colored clothes.
Ticks are easier to see on white clothing vs dark gear.
And make sure you spray your clothes and hiking boots with Deet.
When fighting against ticks, you don’t want to take any chances.
And after hiking, make sure to do a thorough check of your body for any bloodsuckers that could have leeched on to you – including checking under your armpits, groin area, scalp, etc.
Take off all clothes immediately and place them in the dryer for 10 minutes on high after you get home, and before you shower.
- Make A Tick Kit
So maybe you’ve done everything right – used the bug spray, worn the long-sleeved clothing and you still have a tick on you.
Don’t panic just yet!
By having a premade tick kit, you can safely use tweezers to pull the tick off you.
The most important thing to remember is to NOT dig and force the tick into your skin further, as that will simply cause the bacteria to spread.
Once you’ve removed the tick, tape it to the index card and label and date the card.
Should any further testing need done you have all the information documented.
Lyme disease isn’t going away anytime soon. Although the medical community is finally starting to take this growing epidemic more seriously, Lyme disease is still highly debated within the medical community.
Many people who have Lyme disease are turning to seek help and healing from a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (also known as LLMD) as Lyme disease affects every single person differently and there isn’t just one cure.
Through natural medicine and herbs and a strict diet, and possibly even antibiotics if Lyme is caught early enough, many people can at least have their Lyme go into remission.
But take precautions when going outdoors, and you might want to reconsider if hiking is worth the risk!
Were you surprised to learn 300,000 people each year are diagnosed with Lyme disease?
What are some ways you plan to help protect yourself against ticks?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to share this article with your friends and family to let them know the dangers of ticks and Lyme disease!