About 300,000 people in the United States each year are thought to contract Lyme disease. With such a common illness, learning how to avoid it is an important as knowing how to treat Lyme Disease. To do this, you should know about the disease-carrying ticks that spread the infection.
Lyme Disease Ticks
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi which is carried by the blacklegged tick. This tick –also known as the Deer Tick or Bear Tick – has a range all across the entire United States mostly active from April to September. The blacklegged tick lives in brushy areas that provide shelter for deer and other small mammals that are its normal food source. The tick attaches to a host from low lying vegetation and then crawls upward to find a feeding spot. Keep in mind that ticks don’t fly or jump, they can only crawl.
Lyme Disease Bacteria
The tick transfers the bacteria through biting humans, but it doesn’t transmit it until it’s been feeding for over 24 hours. So, the best method of preventing Lyme disease is to do a thorough self-examination when you leave its habitat and remove any ticks you may see. You can only get Lyme disease from a tick bite – not from contact with another person.
Effects of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease affects multiple parts of the body and produces a wide range of symptoms. That’s why if you’ve been bitten by a tick, getting tested for the presence of the Borrelia bacteria is essential to proper treatment.
When the infection is brand new, the site of the bite will generally present with a circular rash called erythema chronicum migrans. This rash is circular, red and may be warmer than the surrounding area, but isn’t painful. During this time, people with Lyme disease may also present flu-like symptoms including a fever, headache, and body aches. However, not all of these symptoms appear in all patients who are infected with Lyme disease.
After a short period of time – anywhere from a few days to a few weeks – after the initial infection, the bacteria begins to spread. The erythema rashes may begin to appear at other random locations on the body. Various neurological disorders may begin to present, ranging from meningitis to facial palsy.
During late infection, if still left untreated, infected patients can be affected by severe debilitating symptoms across the brain, nervous system, joints, and heart. As the bacteria has infected the majority of the host body, Lyme encephalopathy, Lyme arthritis, and other chronic neurological conditions have been reported.
Treating Lyme Disease
If you’ve been bitten and properly diagnosed with Lyme disease, you’re probably wondering how to treat Lyme disease. Most doctors and professionals recommend that you treat the bacterial infection with an aggressive course of antibiotics.
For early detection, the recommended antibiotics are Doxycycline, Cefuroxime axetil, or Amoxicillin taken for two to three weeks. While this may seem like a lengthy course of treatment, it is important to recognize the Borrelia bacteria as extremely dangerous.
How to Treat Lyme Disease – Antibiotics
Amoxicillin is a broad spectrum (it treats both Gram negative and Gram positive bacteria) antibiotic that was developed in the 1960s in England. It is one of the oldest antibiotics in use and its patent has long since expired. That means that there are literally hundreds of different amoxicillin brand names in use in the United States.
Cefuroxime is another broad-spectrum antibiotic that inhibits the growth of bacteria. It was originally developed by Glaxo in the 1980s and released in 1987 as Zinnat. It is now available in its generic form as Cefuroxime axetil.
Like most antibiotics, there are some small side effects that commonly occur. A strange taste in the mouth, nausea, and diarrhea are all fairly common. In young children, diaper rash may also occur as helpful bacteria in the body are also affected.
This antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease is a broad spectrum tetracycline antibiotic that kills bacteria by inhibiting their protein production and preventing their reproduction. It was developed in 1957 and became available to the public in 1967. Because of its effectiveness, the World Health Organization considers it to be an Essential Medication.
Like most antibiotics, doxycycline can cause bowel upset and nausea. One side effect that is unique to this class of antibiotic is phototoxicity. That is, it increases the risk of sunburn in those taking this medication. Other people may also exhibit allergic reactions which include severe headaches and changes to their vision. As always, anyone who is taking doxycycline and has an abnormal change in how they feel should contact their doctor immediately. Learn about the cost of Antibiotics here.
Other Lyme Disease Treatments
In some cases, people exhibit allergies to these antibiotics, which may force one to seek other options on how to treat Lyme disease. In these instances, doctors will fall back on azithromycin, clarithromycin, or erythromycin. These three antibiotics are less effective than the other broad spectrum antibiotics when treating Lyme disease, but they won’t cause the same allergic reaction as the others.
These three antibiotics are part of the macrolide group of antibiotics and are usually used Gram positive and some Gram negative infections. Macrolides are also used as a substitute antibiotic for patients with an allergy to penicillin, making their efficacy tested.
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