Category: Blog

how to avoid Lyme disease

How to avoid Lyme disease: what you need to know

Most folks have heard of Lyme disease. Some know people who have had it. But do you know enough about how to avoid Lyme disease?

I sometimes suspect Lyme when someone is achy in multiple joints or I see a suspicious bite site on my patient and suspect it. We’re in a time of the year when people enjoy walking in the woods, where ticks, the carriers of Lyme disease, live. Not every tick carries the disease but it’s important to know the basics of Lyme disease and importantly, how you can avoid getting it.

 

How Lyme disease happens

In the US, the two species of bacteria that cause Lyme disease are carried by black-legged or deer ticks. To contract the disease, the infected tick must bite you and remain attached for 36-48 hours. The bacteria from the tick enters the skin through the bite site and makes its way into the bloodstream.

The vast majority of ticks are not black-legged or deer ticks…and do not carry the disease. If you find an attached tick that looks swollen, it may have been attached long enough to transmit bacteria. Therefore, the best way to prevent infection is by removing ticks as soon as possible.

 

Signs that you may have Lyme disease

Image result for tick biteLyme disease symptoms can be categorized into early signs and later signs.

Early signs

In the first day or two after a tick bite, most people see a small, red bump similar to a mosquito bite. For the most part, the bump goes away in a few days. This is normal and doesn’t necessarily indicate Lyme disease.

If infected, you’ll see other early signs within three to 30 days after the bite. Some people get an expanding red rash that is often clear in the center, creating a bulls-eye pattern. It can grow quite large, expanding slowly over time, without being itchy or painful although it may be warm to the touch. Other early signs include fever, chills, fatigue, aches, swollen lymph nodes and neck stiffness.

 

Later signs

Additional signs or symptoms can show up if you have not received treatment during the early stage. A rash could appear on other areas of your body. You may find that you have severe bouts of joint pain, particularly in your knees.

Unfortunately, for a long time after infection – anywhere from weeks to year – new symptoms can show up, including meningitis, Bell’s palsy, numbness or weakness of limbs, fatigue, psychiatric symptoms and impaired muscle movement.

Less common, untreated Lyme disease can result in heart, eye and liver problems, as well as severe fatigue. It can even cause cognitive impairment, such as memory loss.

 

What to do if you’ve been bitten

First, don’t panic. Only a small percentage of tick bites lead to Lyme disease, with the greater risk occurring the longer the tick remains on your body. If you remove a tick in less than 36 hours, it’s much less likely that the tick could have infected you.

If you do start experiencing symptoms that you believe may be Lyme disease, get to a doctor right away. Early treatment can make an enormous difference. Even if your symptoms appear then go away, see your physician. The absence of symptoms doesn’t mean your Lyme disease is gone. And you don’t want to leave it untreated, as Lyme disease can spread to various parts of the body for years after infection.

 

Treatment for Lyme disease

The standard protocol for early-stage Lyme disease treatment is a regimen of oral antibiotics. Most individuals take a 14 to 21-day course.

If the disease is impacting your central nervous system, your physician may recommend intravenous antibiotics for 14 to 28 days. While this is often effective in eliminating infection, you may take longer to recover from your symptoms. It’s also important to know that there are side effects to intravenous antibiotics, including a lower white blood cell count, mild to severe diarrhea, or colonization or infection with other antibiotic-resistant organisms unrelated to Lyme.

For many people, this is it. They recover and move on. However, a small number of people will continue to have symptoms, such as muscle aches and fatigues. Physicians refer to this as post-Lyme disease and more antibiotics won’t help. This is likely one of the most frustrating parts of contracting this condition. While more research is needed, some experts believe that certain folks who contract Lyme disease are predisposed to developing autoimmune illnesses that contribute to ongoing symptoms.

 

Most importantly, how to avoid Lyme disease

Avoiding areas where deer ticks live, in particular, areas of woods or long grass, is the best way to prevent Lyme disease. But if you enjoy hiking or do outdoor work, you may not be able to steer clear of these spaces. Here are some ideas on how you can greatly decrease your risk:

  • Cover your body – wear shoes, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves. If you are walking a dog, keep them on a leash so you don’t have to chase them through any bushy or grassy areas.
  • Use insect repellent – a couple of months back, we wrote an article on the best insect repellents. Follow those guidelines.
  • Tick-proof your yard – clear out brush and leaves, mow your grass regularly and keep wood stacked in sunny areas to discourage rodents that can carry ticks.
  • Always check for ticks – be vigilant after spending time outdoors and check your clothing, your body and your scalp very carefully. Shower and use a washcloth. Remember, if you remove a tick quickly, you are much less likely to acquire Lyme disease.
  • Remove ticks quickly using tweezers – grasp the tick near its head or mouth without squeezing and pull carefully and steadily. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet and apply antiseptic to the bite area.

My favorite resource for Lyme disease information is the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. This is a great resource, particularly if you get a ​negative result from the basic Lyme disease test ​but suspect you have Lyme and require further testing (note: the basic test has a high false​ negative rate).

 

Dr. Sharman

 

surprising conditions chiropractors treat

Surprising Conditions Chiropractors Treat with Good Results

Sometimes, chiropractors get pigeon-holed to where people think that we are only beneficial in reducing back pain. But did you know that is only a portion of the conditions we treat? In fact, you might be interested to know the surprising conditions chiropractors treat regularly that most people think can only be treated by other types of physicians.

Here are four conditions that I treat regularly – and most chiropractors see as a standard part of their practice.

 

Migraines and tension headaches

Research shows that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, is an effective way to treat tension headaches and headaches that begin in the neck. These chiropractic adjustments can improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your nervous system.

I treat many patients who have chronic headaches. My goal is always to help correct any neuromusculoskeletal sources of a headache (nerves, muscles and bones of the body). When working with a patient, I like to perform a spinal exam to determine if chiropractic care could alleviate the pain. If a headache may be caused or aggravated by any misaligned vertebrae in the spine (subluxation), it could be creating undue nerve interference. Spinal manipulations often can resolve this.

 

Stress and anxiety

Stress comes from three main sources: our environment, our bodies and our emotions. We all have stress…but for some of us, stress along with anxiety are ongoing conditions. For these folks, chiropractic adjustments may help the body manage and process this stress in a healthier way.

With adjustments, I’m able to release muscle tension – one part of chronic stress. In doing so, I can return the body to a more balanced state with alignment and a reduction in the nerve irritation that created the uneven pressures on the bones to start with. Studies show that chiropractic adjustments turn down the sympathetic, or fight or flight part of the nervous system.  Adjustments also improve circulation, which also helps the brain to know to turn off the “fight or flight” response and start the healing process.

Fibromyalgia

Once a rather obscure condition, most of us today know someone suffering from Fibromyalgia (or perhaps we do ourselves). With the cause of this condition still unknown, two percent of the U.S. population have this chronic disorder, involving widespread pain and sensitivity throughout the entire musculoskeletal system.

I am able to use adjustments, along with a soft tissue technique called myofascial release, to help my Fibro patients get some relief. This helps to move out the congestion of inflammatory biproducts in the tissue, release trigger points and breaks up adhesions between the muscle and it’s casing. For my fibromyalgia patients we also give particular focus to turning down inflammatory pathways through nutrition, detoxing the liver, healing the gut, stress management and vitamin protocols.

One patient of mine has gotten relief from not one but two of her conditions (including fibromyalgia!):

“Through my chiropractic care with Dr. Sharman, my fibromyalgia has been so much more manageable. She reduces my muscle pain and uses protocols to reduce inflammation in my tissues. Also, my tension headaches have completely resolved. Before I saw Dr. Sharman, my tension headaches were debilitating. I saw so many different doctors who gave me so many different tests and types of treatments, but nothing worked until I came to Life Care. Dr. Sharman was the only one who was able to help me. It has been years since I have had a tension headache. Now, I enjoy my periodic chiropractic “tune ups” that keep me dancing at 66 years old.” – Gail Leigh

 

Allergies

surprising conditions chiropractors treatAllergies occur when the immune system encounters an irritant and mistakes it as harmful, causing inflammation. The body goes into attack mode with an often aggressive, irritating response. This generates the allergy symptoms that make us feel crummy: itching, sneezing, nausea and sometimes vomiting.

By improving the communication throughout the nervous system including the brain and spinal cord, chiropractic care can help regulate and coordinate the body’s reaction to allergens. A weak immune system can be strengthened by correcting the misalignment in the spine that disrupts the essential pathways between the brain and spine. This can de-amplify allergic responses.

A strong, well-functioning immune system can deal with irritants and take them on BEFORE they can wreak havoc in your body. So keep your spine aligned – and you’ll have taken the first step to a healthier immune system.

 

Other recommendations

Aside from the specific techniques mentioned to address headaches, stress, fibromyalgia and allergies, most chiropractors have a few more “tools” in our toolkit that may not be suggested to a sufferer by their regular physician.

I find that I’m also often recommending:

  • Nutritional supplements and sometimes an entire vitamin protocol
  • Relaxation strategies
  • Techniques for improving your back posture
  • Environmental modifications (ergonomics, especially for the work environment)
  • Exercises to be done at home to keep the improvements going

And the four conditions mentioned in this article are only some of the surprising conditions chiropractors treat with success. If you are struggling with a condition and not getting relief, let us know. We can schedule a consultation and assess if there is more we can do to help you feel your best!

Dr. Sharman