Lyme disease awareness discussed

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Not many people know what Lyme disease is or what it does. I’ve dealt with it since the day I was born.

Deer tick, Dog tick, Lone star tick

When my Mom was pregnant with me, she contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite. Since Lyme disease was unheard of at that time, the doctor treated her for a flu. Years later, at the age of eleven, my doctor found a lump in the side of my neck. After many tests, and being misdiagnosed for lymphoma, I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease at the age of twelve.

 

As I grew up, the knowledge of this disease grew throughout the country. Unfortunately, if someone is in the later stages of Lyme, the chances of becoming cured is slim. According to Dr. Arnold Markowitz, the chances of a woman carrying a child full term, and the child surviving past their first year is almost an impossibility. This meant that I would carry the disease with me my entire life.

The Lyme Association of Greater Kansas City Inc. defines Lyme Disease as “a bacterial infection usually transmitted by a tick.” They describe early symptoms to include:

  • An expanding EM (erythema migrans) rash

    Bullseye rash occurs after bite

  • Chills, with or without fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sleepiness and/or fatigue
  • Stiffness in neck and/or back, meningitis
  • Headache, runny nose, sore throat
  • Joint pain, muscle aches, heart problems
  • Digestive system problems
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Mood changes, personality changes
  • Memory and/or concentration problems

According the the Center for Disease Control (CDC), if you suspect a tick-borne illness, seek immediate medical attention because if the disease isn’t treated promptly, the symptoms could get worse and become permanent. In the later stages of Lyme, symptoms include:

  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulty with thinking and concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Severe headaches, disabling fatigue
  • Chronic nausea, stomach pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Depression, psychiatric problems
  • Numbness, tingling, burning sensations
  • Quick, sharp pains
  • Tremors, paralysis, seizures
  • Nerve pain, muscle pain, muscle weakness
  • Joint pains, with or without swelling
  • Ringing in ears, changes in hearing
  • Eye pain, blurry vision, floaters, vision loss
  • Irregular heartbeat, other heart problems

Tick growth at different stages

 

Dr. Arnold Markowitz, a Keego Harbor internist specializing in infectious diseases, said, “Under-reporting and under-diagnosing are occurring in Michigan because doctors aren’t looking for Lyme disease. It’s underdiagnosed because the physicians in the area aren’t doing the testing to diagnose it.”

 

 

The Lyme Association of Greater Kansas City, Inc. goes on to explain “Lyme disease resembles many other diseases, so diagnosis can be very difficult.” Lyme disease can mimic other diseases. Some of them include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Meningitis
  • Lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
  • Epstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis)
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
  • Autism, Asperger’s syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s, psychiatric illnesses
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome

Ticks can be 1/10 the size of a postage stamp

 

If more people are aware of the warning signs of this disease, no more people will have to go through the pain that so many others, including my Mom and myself, have to endure every day of their lives. You can get more information through the CDC or a number of websites. Knowledge will make us stronger.

 

Tina Bishop

About Tina Bishop

Tina is a 27-year old freelance writer. She has been in retail management since the age of 18, when she took over her first store. She loves being around people and working with the public. When she's not at home with her three daughters, she is out spending time with friends and family.