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Lyme’s Disease

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Lyme’s disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia bungdorferi which is spread to humans via ticks which have already bitten an infected animal. Deer, sheep, mice, voles, hedgehogs and other insects also carry the disease and it is spread to humans through ticks which are found in grassy, wooded areas.

In the UK ticks are most active between March and October. Areas in the UK that are known to have a high population of ticks include:

  • Exmoor
  • The New Forest in Hampshire
  • The South Downs
  • Parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire
  • Thetford Forest in Norfolk
  • The Lake District
  • The Yorkshire Moors
  • The Scottish Highlands

 

How do I know if I have been bitten by an infected tick?

Often a distinctive rash will develop around the tick bite. It will look like a circular red rash, almost like a ‘bullseye’, around the tick bite. This rash will develop within 4 weeks. Lyme disease is systemic, moving through the bloodstream and the lymphatic system and affecting the whole body. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms and have been spending time in grassy, wooded areas, you should see a doctor.

Other symptoms include:

  • Severe fatigue,
  • Headaches,
  • Fever,
  • Muscle pain,
  • Swollen joints or lymph nodes,
  • Temporary paralysis of one side of your face,
  • Other neurological problems such as muscle weakness or impaired movement,
  • Heightening of chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia,
  • Neuropsychological conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Although Lyme’s disease is classified as an infectious or parasitic disease by the World Health Organisation, it is often difficult to diagnose. Blood tests may not show the infection if the tests are done before the infection develops (the tests are most successful a few weeks after the tick bite). The most successful diagnoses are from GPs who take a careful history and who can see the rash, so make sure you get to a doctor quickly and communicate your concern about Lyme’s disease.

Recent research suggests temporary facial paralysis, along with headaches or fever, is a clinical indicator of Lyme’s disease in children.[1] So, if your children are playing in grassy woodlands, make sure to watch carefully for ticks or indicators they have been bitten by a tick.

 

Lyme D image

 

How to protect yourself

Reducing your exposure to tick bites is the most important thing you can do! This is a useful video from the John Hopkin’s Lyme Disease Center in the US, where ticks are also prevalent. There is also some helpful information about recognising tick bites and removing ticks from the skin.

If you are camping or hiking this summer, make sure you protect yourself by covering your skin when walking in wooded and grassy areas. You should tuck your trousers into your socks and wear a long-sleeved shirt, covered shoes, and a hat. You can also use a good-quality insect repellent. Try to stay on well-marked trails and paths and avoid un-cleared woodland areas with long grass and shrubs.

Remember to check yourself for ticks after every walk and to check your children and pets, especially behind knees, underarm, scalp, navel, groin, buttocks, and back. You are looking for very small pinpoint-sized dark specks that may not be obvious at first!

You may not notice a tick bite as they are not always painful. However, if you spot a tick on your skin carefully remove it with tweezers by pulling it up and out and clean the skin with antiseptic. Make sure you remove ticks as soon as you see them – if they are attached to the skin for more than 24 hours it is more likely that the infection will be transmitted.

 

Staying healthy on holiday!

Whatever your challenges are this summer, staying healthy and fit shouldn’t be a burden! Even though we tend to neglect our normal exercise or eat more naughty foods than usual, it is important to give our bodies an extra bit of support during the holidays. And this means taking a few more vitamins and nutrients in the form of supplements…as well as keeping an eye out for ticks! Here are a few recommendations for making the most of supplements this summer:

  1. Consider taking a quality multivitamin, which ensures your body has all the nutrients it needs, especially the B vitamins.
  2. Fish oils are always important
  3. Magnesium is a popular supplement and it is also great as a muscle relaxant
  4. Ashwanga, a medicinal herb which is taken to relieve stress, increase energy and improve overall health. It is one of the most popular supplements taken by people today.

 

Every blessing,

Emma

Emma Maitland-Carew – Registered Nutritional Therapist

Dip.ION, mBANT, CHNC Registered Practitioner,

Metabolic Balance® Coach, HeartMath Coach.

 

[1] Nigrovic, L., Thompson, A., Fine, A., and Kimia A. (2008) ‘Clinical predictors of Lyme disease among children with a peripheral facial palsy at an emergency department in a Lyme disease-endemic area.’ Pediatrics. 2008 Nov;122(5): 1080-5.

 

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