Summer is heating up and insect activity is rising with the temperature.
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Symptoms that a tick bite may have given you Lyme disease:
- Red, expanding rash called around the bite point
- Flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
- Facial or Bell’s palsy (loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face)
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Pain and swelling in the large joints
- Shooting pains that may interfere with sleep
- Heart palpitations and dizziness due to changes in heartbeat
Many of these symptoms will resolve over a period of weeks to months, even without treatment. However, lack of treatment can result in additional complications.
To remove a tick that has already bitten:
- Pull upward on the body with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the parts easily with clean tweezers, leave the area alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.
- Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible, not waiting for it to detach.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Tips from Dr. Keith Berndtson for avoiding the insects:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks in high-risk areas.
• The CDC recommends using an insect repellent containing DEET on skin and permethrin on clothing to repel ticks.
• Check the body often, especially the legs, for ticks. This is easier to do if clothing is light in color. Ticks can be tiny; if it looks like a freckle that’s moving, it’s likely a tick.
• An end-of-day check for ticks attached to the skin is also critical. It can take more than 24 hours for an attached tick to transmit disease-causing bacteria, so it’s still possible to avoid infection.
• Check pets when they come in from outdoors.
Dr. Berndtson’s paper, a review of evidence for immune evasion and infection in Lyme disease, was published by the International Journal of General Medicine in April 2013.