Share

What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

 
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of certain species of ticks that are carriers of the bacterial infection Borrelia burgdorferi. When these mites adhere to human skin they can pass the bacteria to the blood and cause an infection that, if untreated, can affect the nervous system and other vital organs, resulting in a variety of severe symptoms.

Usually, if it is diagnosed at an early stage and appropriate antibiotic treatment is received, Lyme disease can be completely cured: It is very important to seek medical advice when faced with early symptoms. Keep reading this OneHowTo article to know what is Lyme disease: causes, symptoms and treatment.

You may also be interested in: What is the Treatment for Zika Virus

What are the causes of Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused following the bite from a tick that carries Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Ticks acquire this microorganism after they bite mice and other small mammals also infected with this bacteria.

It is a condition with an with an observed higher incidence in the United States and in parts of Europe and Asia. Among the risk factors that can increase your chances of getting Lyme disease are:

  • Working or performing outdoor activities in places where ticks are common, mostly grasslands and shrubs. People who are employed in gardening, cleaning shrubs, agriculture and park maintenance among other professions and those who do hiking or hunting in their spare time have a higher risk of contracting it.
  • Living with a pet that may have ticks carrying the disease.
  • Walking or hiking through high grasslands or bushes.

In addition, it is important to note that after coming into contact with a person a tick will climb for a long time over clothes or over the body before adhering to the skin. For the bacteria to pass into the bloodstream and cause the infection, the tick will need to have been attached to the skin for 24 to 36 hours.

What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - What are the causes of Lyme disease?

What are the symptoms and evolution of Lyme disease?

The symptoms of Lyme disease appear after a few days or weeks from contracting the infection; if not treated early, it can spread and affect the nervous system and various other organs. Depending on the severity of the disease three stages are distinguished, each one with a specific set of symptoms:

Stage 1

In the first stage of Lyme disease, the infection still has not spread through the body. It is also known as Early Localized Lyme Disease Infection. The symptoms that can be observed in this phase are the following:

  • Onset of a skin rash, called erythema migrans, that starts in the area of the bite and expands and grows with the passing of time. You can see flat or slightly elevated red spots with a clearer part in the centre.
  • Generalized malaise and fatigue.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Headaches, joint and muscle pain.
  • Stiffness in the neck.

Stage 2

The second stage of Lyme disease is called Early Disseminated Lyme Disease Infection and happens once the bacteria have begun to spread throughout the body. In this case, it may affect the joints, brain and heart, and symptoms may include:

  • Bell facial paralysis or weakness in the muscles of the face.
  • Numbness or discomfort in the area of the nerve.
  • Difficulty in breathing normally.
  • Heart problems, such as heart beat acceleration, palpitations or an irregular heartbeat rhythm.

Stage 3

The last stage is called Late Disseminated Lyme Disease Infection and occurs once the bacteria have already spread throughout the body of the person in question. In this case, the symptoms may include:

  • Pain and swelling of joints.
  • Difficulty to carry out certain muscle movements.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Numbness and tingling.
  • Trouble speaking normally.
  • Cognitive problems.
  • Changes in mood and sleeping habits.
What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - What are the symptoms and evolution of Lyme disease?

How is Lyme disease diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on the symptoms presented by the patient and the possibility of their having come into contact with ticks carrying the infection. Generally, a blood test to check for antibodies that fight against bacteria responsible for the disease can be carried out, although it should be noted that in the early stages there may not be antibodies yet, so you could get a false result. In addition, if in the first phase antibiotics are taken it is possible that not enough antibodies are produced to detect the infection through a blood test.

Besides a blood test, it is possible that the doctor will request other tests, such as an electrocardiography, echocardiography, MRI or a lumbar puncture.

What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - How is Lyme disease diagnosed?

How is Lyme disease treated?

The treatment of Lyme disease is based on the administration of antibiotics, which are prescribed for a period that can range from 14 to 30 days to completely eliminate the bacteria responsible for the infection.

It is very important to begin this treatment in the early stage of the disease so to prevent progression of the infection and spread to the nervous system, heart or joints. In all cases, patients must strictly follow the medical indications as to the dosage and duration of treatment set out. It is likely that an analgesic will also be recommended to relieve joint stiffness, if this exists.

In more advanced stages of the disease treatment will also consists in taking antibiotics, but here they may be administered intravenously. Only when strictly necessary will there also be a process to drain excess fluid from the joints that have been affected.

What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - How is Lyme disease treated?

Now you know what is Lyme disease: causes, symptoms and treatment. If you think you might have Lyme disease after having been in contact with animals or doing outdoors activities and noticing symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

Write a comment about What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What did you think of this article?

What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
1 of 5
What is Lyme Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Back to top