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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacteria (germ) called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ixodes ticks (deer ticks) are carriers of the bacteria, and may infect you by biting through your skin. Deer ticks are most common in the Northeastern and North Central United States. Symptoms of Lyme disease may appear up to one month after you are bitten by a tick. Lyme disease may cause a target, or bull's eye like rash on your skin. Symptoms include a fever, sore throat, headache, stiff neck, feeling tired, and pain in your muscles and joints. Lyme disease may also lead to problems with your nerves, brain, and heart. You may have trouble thinking clearly, and you may not be able to move areas of your face. Lyme disease may also cause you to have abnormal heartbeats.
- Your caregiver may know you have Lyme disease by looking at your rash. You may also need blood tests to check for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Caregivers may also test for bacteria in the fluid around your spinal cord, or the fluid around your joints. Treatment includes medicines to kill the germ causing Lyme disease. Medicines may also be used to decrease any pain and swelling in your joints. You may also need treatment to remove swollen joint tissue, or treatment to correct abnormal heartbeats. Treatment for Lyme disease may prevent or decrease symptoms such as joint pain and swelling. Treatment may also help stop the disease from spreading to your organs.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
Take your medicine as directed:
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are germ-killing medicines. You may be given antibiotics to kill the germ that causes Lyme disease.
- Nonsteroidal anti inflammatory medicine: This family of medicine is also called NSAIDs. NSAIDs may help decrease pain and inflammation (swelling) in your joints. Some NSAIDs may also be used to decrease a fever (high body temperature). This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.
- Steroids: You may be given steroids to reduce pain, redness, and swelling in your joints.
Ask your caregiver when to return for a follow-up visit. If you had surgery to remove swollen joint tissue, you may need to have stitches removed. If you have a temporary pacemaker, talk to your caregiver about how long you need it. You may need follow-up visits often to check your heart while the pacemaker is in place. Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.
Ways to decrease your risk for getting Lyme disease:
- Avoid areas outdoors where you know there are many ticks. Check your skin and scalp for ticks when you return from areas where ticks live. If you find a tick, remove it carefully from your skin with tweezers, and clean the area. Watch the area where the tick attached itself, over the next month, for any redness or a rash.
- Remove dead leaves and brush from around your home and yard. If you live in a wooded area, make a border between your grass and the woods near your house. Wood chips and gravel can be used to make the border. Spray the grass and tree areas where you live with repellent to keep ticks away.
- Spray your clothing and exposed skin with a tick repellent. Your caregiver may suggest a repellent that has low levels of DEET in it. Wear protective clothing while in areas where there may be ticks. Wear long-sleeves and tuck your pants into your socks. Wear light colored clothing so you can see a tick that gets on you.
If you had surgery to treat your symptoms of Lyme disease, you will have bandages that cover your wound. Talk to your caregiver about how to care for your wound.
For more information:
Contact the following:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta , GA 30333
Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
Web Address: http://www.cdc.gov/
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- Your red target rash grows or spreads to other areas of your body.
- You suddenly have trouble falling or staying asleep.
- You have new or worsening pain and swelling in your joints.
- You have new or worsening weakness and muscle pain.
- You have changes in your mood, such as feeling depressed (deep sadness), anxious (worry), or easily angered.
- You think or know you are pregnant.
- You get a new tick bite.
- You have questions or concerns about your disease or treatment.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You suddenly have headaches, or your neck becomes stiff and is painful to move.
- You have new pain in your chest or trouble breathing.
- You have new or worsening trouble with your memory, concentration, or thinking clearly.
- You suddenly cannot talk or see well, or you have trouble moving an area of your body.
- You have new numbness in your arms or legs, or you have new trouble walking.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.