Learn about the link between ticks, Lyme disease and autoimmune disease and how to protect yourself from this dangerous trio.
These itty bitty bugs climb out as cold weather fades. Particularly in woody, adventure-seeking communities like Colorado, people take to the outdoors (and so do the ticks!).
Ticks are No Treat
Ticks are tiny insects that attach themselves to the skin of animals and humans. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary, but they often include”:
- A distinctive rash known as erythema migrans
If Lyme disease is not treated, it can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. In some cases, Lyme disease can lead to an autoimmune condition. Autoimmunity occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. This can occur in people with Lyme disease if the bacteria spreads to the liver and triggers an autoimmune response. In severe cases, autoimmunity can cause organ damage and even death. Lyme disease is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. Ticks can also carry other diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis (Lyme co-infection), but Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infection in North America.
There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, and they affect people of all ages. Lyme disease is a serious health problem and can lead to autoimmunity, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself from ticks and other insects that carry the disease. You should wear long pants and sleeves when you are outdoors in areas where ticks live. You should also use natural insect repellent (made with essential oils) on your skin and clothing. Be sure to check yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors, and remove any that are found promptly.
How to Remove a Tick
The CDC suggests:
It’s Better to Be Safe than Sorry
It’s often very difficult to diagnose a Lyme infection. Many people live with undiagnosed symptoms for years before getting to the root cause. Lyme disease is best detected by a blood test, which looks for antibodies to the Lyme bacteria. The test can be performed using either a whole blood sample or a serum sample. Antibodies to Lyme disease are typically produced within 3-6 weeks of infection, so it is best to wait at least 6 weeks after possible exposure before getting tested. It’s important to get proper testing as not all tests are created equal. Lyme disease can also be detected using a urine test, but this is not as accurate as the blood test. Lyme disease is a serious infection that can cause a wide range of symptoms, so it is important to get tested if you think you may have been exposed to the bacteria.
All Testing is Not Created Equal
It is important to use the proper type of testing for Lyme. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing can detect the DNA of the Lyme disease bacteria and if you have an active case of Lyme disease or if you had Lyme in the past. Use of IgM testing is recommended during the first 30 days of infection, after which only IgG tests should be used. Research shows that current western blot testing has shortcomings, and PCR testing is more valid in determining an active infection.
Supporting Lyme disease
Lyme disease is a serious illness that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. While there is no cure for Lyme disease, there are treatments available that can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. By seeking out natural treatments and support, Lyme disease sufferers can take an active role in managing their illness and improving their wellbeing.
If you think you may have Lyme disease, it is important to see your practitioner as soon as possible. Call Dr. Autoimmune 303-882-8447 or click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page to find out more about how we can help.