Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. The infection is spread from the bite of an infected deer tick.

  • Causes

    Lyme disease is caused by bacteria found in some deer ticks. An infected tick passes Lyme disease to humans through its bite.

    If untreated, the bacteria can pass into the blood. The blood will carry it through the body. The bacteria may then settle in various body tissues. The spread of the infection can cause a number of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.

  • Definition

    Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. The infection is spread from the bite of an infected deer tick.

  • Diagnosis

    A doctor may be able to diagnose Lyme disease based on your symptoms and the history of a tick bite.

    After four weeks of Lyme disease, your body may create antibodies against
    the infection. Your doctor may look for these antibodies with a blood test. The blood test cannot confirm or rule out Lyme disease. Instead, the results of the blood test will be used in combination with your symptoms and personal history to make a diagnosis.

  • Prevention

    Try the following to help prevent Lyme disease:

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of Lyme disease include:


    • Living in the northeastern, northwestern, mid-Atlantic, or upper north-central regions of the United States and northwestern California

      • Peak tick season in the northeast is April through September
    • Outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and gardening in areas/seasons with deer ticks
    • Living near or going to wooded, grassy areas
    • Working outdoors such as surveying, landscaping, forestry, gardening, and utility company service work

  • Symptoms

    The symptoms of Lyme disease will be different in each person. They can also range from mild to severe.

    The first sign may be a red rash. The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite. It will then spread over the next few days or weeks to form a circular or oval-shaped rash. Sometimes the rash resembles a bull's eye with a red ring around a clear area with a red center. The rash may cover a small dime-sized area or a wide area of the body.

    Lyme Disease Rash
    IMAGE
    This is an example of a Lyme disease rash shaped like a bull's eye. It may not always be this shape, nor will a rash always appear.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Treatment

    Lyme disease responds well to antibiotics. These medications can kill bacteria. Antibiotics used most often include:

    • Doxycycline—cannot be used in women who are pregnant or children under 8 years of age
    • Amoxicillin—can be used in women who are pregnant or children under 8 years of age
    • Cefuroxime

    The length of your antibiotic treatment will depend on your condition. You may need to take them for 10 days to 3 weeks or more. You may be given the antibiotics by mouth or by injection.

    To relieve pain from chronic arthritis you doctor may recommend:


    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

      • Ibuprofen
        (Advil, Genpril, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, Rufen)
      • Naproxen sodium
        (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn)
    • Steroid injection directly into the joint