Stay Alert, Know the Signs and Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease!
Hey guys! It’s Lyme disease awareness month, and I know we’re all focussed on fighting on COVID-19 right now, but I just wanted to remind everyone to take extra care, and watch out for Lyme disease too! 💚
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infectious disease which is caused by bacterial spirochetes, known as Borrelia burgdorferi.
It’s usually spread when a person (or animal) is bitten by an infected tick, and the spirochetes pass from the host, into the victim’s bloodstream.
Ticks are tiny, blood-sucking arachnids which are often found in long grass, scrubland and woodland. Unfortunately, they’re increasingly popping up in our parks and gardens too – so if you’re outdoors, it’s important to remain vigilant!
It’s also vital to remove ticks correctly and to treat Lyme disease quickly – something I learned in hindsight, after my illness went untreated, and became a life-altering, chronic condition.
How to Prevent Tick Bites
It’s often easier to prevent Lyme disease than to treat it – so here are a some ways to protect yourself from being bitten:
✅ Wear insect repellant during outdoor activities (Mosi-guard Natural is one that’s commonly recommended.)
✅ Avoid walking through long grass and stick to pathways.
✅ If you have to walk through long grass, wear long trousers and sleeves. (You can also tuck your trousers into your socks.)
✅ Wear light-coloured clothing, so that it’s easier to spot any ticks that might be on you.
✅ Shower and check for ticks when you get home.
If you live in a high-risk area, you may also wish to drink astragalus tea or cistus tea, to boost the immune system and help prevent infection. (Always check with your doctor first though!)
How to Remove a Tick
If you do find a tick attached to you, it’s extremely important to remove it promptly and properly.
You’ll want to avoid leaving the mouth-parts of the tick stuck in your skin, and most importantly, you want to make sure you don’t squeeze the body of the tick, as this could eject its contents into your body.
The best way to remove a tick is with a tick-removal tool, like the one pictured below.
These simple tools can be bought online for as little as £1, and can also be purchased from most good vets and pet shops.
To use the tool, simply slide the hook over the tick (as close to the skin as possible) and give it a twist to safely remove the tick.
If you don’t have a tick-removal tool, then you can also use a sterile, pointed tweezers. This is a bit more tricky, but the idea is to grasp the tick around the mouth-parts (as close to the skin as possible) and then pull the tick out, without twisting or squeezing it’s body.
You can also use a clean, fine thread and tie a loop around the tick’s mouth-parts (again, as close to the skin as possible) then pull upwards and outwards, without twisting.
🚫 Crush or squeeze the tick’s body.
🚫 Use your fingernails to try and remove it.
🚫 Put any kind of chemicals on the tick, as this may cause it to regurgitate its contents into your body.
Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease
If you’ve been bitten by a tick and you’re worried that you might have Lyme disease, be sure to see your doctor ASAP. In the meantime, here are some symptoms to look out for. (These symptoms usually develop within two weeks of being bitten.)
⚠️ The Erythema Migrans Rash ⚠️
This distinctive rash is a positive indicator of Lyme disease, and while not everyone who gets infected has (or notices) the rash, everyone with the rash has Lyme disease.
The rash usually develops two weeks after being bitten, and can expand to become as large as 40cm in diameter! The rash isn’t itchy or painful, and although it’s usually circular, this is not always the case. It may also be found in a different location to where you were bitten.
When I was infected, I didn’t see the tick that bit me, but I did spot the Erythema Migrans (EM) rash. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what it was at the time, which is why it took so long for me to get any treatment.
Other symptoms of Lyme Disease include:
🟢 Flu-like symptoms (aching, fever, headaches, sweating)
🟢 Joint pain
🟢 Light sensitivity
🟢 A stiff neck
🟢 Abnormal skin sensations (numbness, tingling, itching etc.)
🟢 Facial palsy in Children
You may have all of these symptoms, or just a few, but if you experience any, it’s important to get tested for Lyme disease.
Try to do this as soon as possible, as testing can be unreliable and results do become less accurate with time.
Unfortunately, many people (myself included) go a very long time before they are diagnosed. This allows the infection to spread throughout the body, and makes it far harder to treat.
Lyme disease can affect any part of the body, so chronic symptoms can vary from person-to-person. Symptoms can also mimic other conditions such as CFS/ME, MS and Fibromyalgia.
I can’t speak for others, but for those who are interested, my main symptoms were/are as follows:
- Rapidly deteriorating vision, leading to permanently blurred eyesight.
- Constant fatigue and exhaustion.
- Excruciating joint pains, which began in my knees and moved to every joint in my body – leaving me unable to walk. (Thankfully this symptom resolved after I switched to a whole foods plant-based diet!)
- Sudden onset of migraines.
- Insomnia, night sweats and nighttime hallucinations.
- Short and long-term memory loss, ‘brain fog’ and confusion.
- Seizures, spasms and fasciculations.
- Palpitations, chest pain and fainting.
Treating Lyme Disease
If you’ve recently been infected and have an EM rash and/or a positive test result, then your doctor should offer you a course of antibiotics (such as Doxycycline) which are taken for at least 21 days.
This treatment has a very good success rate, however, if you’re still experiencing symptoms afterwards, it’s important to tell your doctor, and find a Lyme-literate doctor if necessary.
Treating Chronic Lyme
If you’ve been living with Lyme for some time, then it can be harder to find appropriate treatment.
Sadly, chronic Lyme disease is still largely misunderstood, and while many patients get good results with long-term, pulsed antibiotics, it can be difficult to get this kind of treatment in the UK.
Surprisingly, the alcohol dependence drug Disulfiram has also been found to improve Lyme symptoms, and although it’s still early days, it’s looking quite promising and is now being offered by some GP’s.
Herbal medicine is also worth considering (under the guidance of a qualified professional) and there are various protocols which can be helpful for treating Lyme disease.
I personally had great success on the Buhner protocol, which, after 9 months of treatment, helped my Lyme to go into remission.
Unfortunately, my illness eventually relapsed, and the second time around I found that the herbs were too harsh on my stomach.
I now do Rife therapy instead, which uses electrical frequencies to kill pathogens within the body. It’s definitely an unconventional treatment, but I’m finding it extremely helpful, and I know many other’s who swear by it too!
I also continue to eat a whole foods plant-based diet, and try to live as naturally as possible, to support my body as best as I can.
Living with Lyme
I’ve been living with Lyme for a decade now, and although I rarely talk about how devastating this disease has been for me, I do want to bring awareness to it, and hopefully prevent others from suffering the same fate as myself.
I also want to give a huge shout-out to all the warriors who are living with chronic illnesses – especially to those who are suffering behind closed doors!
Lockdown has given the world a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to be shut in, restricted and unable to live a normal life – and I really hope that from this, we can begin to understand each other a bit more! 💚
If you’d like more information on Lyme disease please visit https://lymediseaseuk.com/
Please note: I’m not a doctor, and the information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor regarding any medical condition.
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Chrissy is a vegan blogger and content creator from Somerset, UK. She founded Grateful Green Life in 2019, to share her journey and connect with other’s who wish to live a more natural, eco-friendly lifestyle. Chrissy is passionate about plants, nature and gardening, and enjoys creating vegan recipes, with her organically homegrown produce.