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  • Writer's pictureDr. Nathan Servey DC

Lyme Disease: How to Safely Explore the Outdoors this Summer

Chances are if you live or grew up in the Midwest, you have heard about Lyme Disease. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. When an infected deer tick bites a person, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing a range of symptoms. The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease can vary and often appear in stages. Lyme disease is a growing concern in Minnesota, where deer ticks are prevalent in wooded and grassy areas. Understanding the importance of prevention, early diagnosis, and recognizing symptoms is crucial in combating this tick-borne illness.

A family hiking in the woods


Prevention: Preventing Lyme disease starts with minimizing exposure to infected ticks. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  1. Wear Protective Clothing: When venturing into tick-infested areas, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. Tucking pants into socks and wearing light-colored clothing makes ticks more visible.

  2. Use Insect Repellents: Apply insect repellents (natural or containing DEET) on exposed skin. Natural insect repellents include essential oils (citronella, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint oil) and neem oil.

  3. Perform Tick Checks: After spending time outdoors, thoroughly check your body for ticks, paying special attention to areas like the scalp, armpits, groin, and behind the knees. Promptly remove any attached ticks using fine-tipped tweezers, grasping the tick close to the skin and pulling straight upward.

  4. Check Pets and Limit Contact: Ticks are easily transmitted onto humans from pets. Remember to use tick deterrent on your pets, frequently check pets for ticks, and consider keeping your pets out of bedrooms where ticks can latch while sleeping.

Early Diagnosis: Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease is crucial for early diagnosis and prompt treatment. While symptoms can vary, the following are commonly associated with Lyme disease:

  1. "Bullseye" Rash: The hallmark of Lyme disease is the development of an expanding red rash with a central clearing surrounded by a reddened ring. If you notice this distinctive rash, it's important to seek medical attention promptly. Some individuals with Lyme disease may experience multiple episodes rash, even in different areas of the body.

  2. Flu-like Symptoms: Early symptoms may resemble flu, including fatigue, fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, and general malaise. These symptoms may occur within days to weeks after a tick bite.

  3. Neurological Symptoms: In some cases, Lyme disease can affect the nervous system, leading to symptoms such as facial paralysis (Bell's palsy), severe headaches, neck stiffness, dizziness, and tingling or numbness in the limbs.

  4. Joint Pain: Joint pain is a common symptom of Lyme disease, and individuals in Minnesota may experience this symptom due to the prevalence of infected ticks. Joint pain often affects large joints, such as the knees, but can also occur in other joints.

  5. Blood Tests: Depending on how recent the suspected exposure to a tick bite was, there are a few blood tests that can help determine whether you have been exposed to Lyme Disease.

Treatment: The treatment of Lyme Disease varies based on how recently someone was exposed to an infected tick, when symptoms first started, and blood test results.

  1. Acute Phase (weeks of infection): Antibiotics are key to treatment in order to ensure that the bacteria is quickly killed and doesn't have a chance to "hide" in tissues. Other supportive therapies include using probiotics, herbals to support immune function, and consuming an anti-inflammatory diet.

  2. Chronic Phase (months to years after infection): In some cases, Lyme disease may go undiagnosed or untreated during the acute phase, leading to the development of persistent or recurrent symptoms. It's very important that people work closely with their doctor to rule out other conditions and develop a personalized treatment plan which typically includes diet modification, nutritional support, lifestyle modification, herbal therapies, chiropractic care, and acupuncture.

Now that you know a bit more about how to avoid and recognize Lyme Disease, you can help keep yourself and others healthy as you enjoy being outside this summer. If you or someone you know is struggling with Lyme Disease symptoms, have them give us a call to help guide them on their healing journey. 952-443-9000

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