treatment of Lyme Disease

Don’t Let Lyme Disease Bite You: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of a Tick Bite

Spring and summer in Ontario offer perfect opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and pet owners to enjoy nature. However, these seasons also bring an increased risk of tick bites, particularly from blacklegged ticks that can transmit Lyme disease. And if left untreated, this progressive disease can negatively affect your health for years to come.

Understanding how to recognize and respond to tick bites can help you enjoy the outdoors safely. In this article, we explore everything you need to know about the prevention, early detection, and treatment of Lyme Disease.

Recognizing a Tick Bite

Ticks are spider-like creatures that can latch onto your skin. Known as deer ticks, blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) associated with Lyme Disease can appear brown in colour and are between the size of a poppy seed and a sesame seed. These ticks first become carriers of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi after feeding on an infected wildlife.

Despite their tiny size, they can pose significant health risks. One of the tricky aspects of tick bites is that they are often painless and may go unnoticed. This is why it is important to check your clothing and body if you have visited a place where infected ticks have been detected. These places include, but are not limited to, wooded areas, gardens, and landscapes with long grass.

Ticks are most commonly found on the legs, behind the knees, in the belly button, on the back, and in the underarm and groin areas.

To prevent tick bites, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends wearing light-coloured clothing with long sleeves and pants in areas where ticks thrive. Use insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin on clothing as well as exposed skin.

If you see a tick, remove it within 24 hours of it becoming attached to your skin to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme Disease. It takes roughly 24 hours for the bacterium to be transmitted into the bloodstream.

Understanding Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. Primarily, ticks become infected after feeding on infected rodents or birds. Once an infected tick bites a human or animal, the bacteria can be transmitted into the bloodstream.

While not all infected ticks transmit Lyme Disease, the majority of cases can lead to progressive symptoms and health conditions if not caught and treated in the early stages.

In Ontario, areas around Brampton, including Mississauga and Caledon, are known for Lyme disease risk. That said, it is important to understand that blacklegged ticks can be transported to any area of Ontario by migratory birds.

Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

There are three stages of Lyme Disease to be aware of, all of which present different symptoms.

In most humans, symptoms of Lyme Disease typically appear three to 30 days after contact with an infected tick. While not everyone will experience the following symptoms, it is important to monitor your health and your exposed skin in the days and weeks following exposure to ticks.

Stage 1: Early Localized Lyme Disease (3 to 30 days)

Early localized Lyme Disease has an incubation period of up to one month, so you may or may not present symptoms right away. Symptoms include:

  • Bull’s-eye rash
  • Bruise-like rash
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease (less than 3 months)

During this stage, you may develop neurological symptoms such as:

  • Facial palsy
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Spasms, numbness, or tingling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Concentration problems
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headaches

Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease (more than 3 months)

If symptoms are left untreated or undetected after infection, it can lead to complex symptoms for years, including:

  • Severe arthritis in large joints like the knees
  • Memory issues
  • Neuropathy

For a more comprehensive understanding of these symptoms, visit The Government of Canada’s Guide to Lyme Disease.

Why Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease Is Important

If you suspect you’ve gotten a tick bite or notice symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately. The first step in treating a tick bite is to get a physical assessment to look for signs of Lyme Disease. While laboratory testing is not always needed, a blood test may uncover specific antibodies that are fighting the bacteria in your bloodstream.

Lyme Disease is treated with antibiotics for 10-14 days. In some cases, further antibiotic treatment may be necessary. It should be noted that while Lyme Disease is curable in the early stages, those affected may continue to test positive in the years to come even after all signs and symptoms have been treated.

When Should You Get Medical Attention

After a tick bite, it’s essential to monitor your symptoms for at least 30 days. If symptoms develop, consult with your healthcare professional to get an evaluation as soon as possible.

Visit a Walk-In Clinic Near You for Early Diagnosis & Treatment of Lyme Disease

If you are concerned about contracting Lyme Disease or think you may have been bitten by an infected tick, talk to the specialists at Heart Lake Health Centre. Our walk-in clinic offers a host of acute non-emergency services including referrals to our leading dermatologist in Brampton.

Contact us today at (905) 846-9255, email info@heartlakemed.com, or fill out our request form to schedule an appointment.

 

Heart Lake Health Center

For the past 25 years, Heart Lake Health Centre has been providing trusted medical services with dedicated industry professionals. Our team is combined of doctors who specialize in family medicine, urology, physical medicine, dermatology, pediatrics, podiatry, and cardiology. At Heart Lake Health Centre, our top priority is the health of you and your family’s. You can rely on our healthcare professionals to ensure an A-grade experience.