May Is Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Do You Know What Chronic Lyme Disease Is?

Deer ticks and therefore Lyme disease are a daily threat in Worcester for a good portion of the year. In our area, most people are aware of Lyme disease, but may not be familiar with how devastating it truly can be. Whether you know someone who has had it and recovered completely with treatment or you know someone who is struggling with Lyme continually, you may not understand how it can devastate a life. When Lyme progresses into chronic Lyme, the effects can be life-shattering.

Chronic Lyme in Worcester

While much of us refer to it as Chronic Lyme, the CDC calls it Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS). PTLDS can occur in Lyme patients who do and do not receive treatment. It is suspected that those who PTLDS after treatment may not have started treatment early enough. While the cause is still unknown, most experts believe it long lasting symptoms manifests when there is residual damage to tissues and the immune system from the infection.

Symptoms of Chronic Lyme

Lingering issues such as severe headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain and neck stiffness can last for months after the original infection. Some patients experience more severe symptoms that can include Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis), episodes of dizziness, inflammation of the brain or spinal cord, shooting pains, nerve pain, short-term memory issues and an irregular heartbeat. While most patients recover over time, however long that may be, there are rare instances of Lyme carditis that can lead to death.

The Danger of Lyme Carditis

Approximately 1% of Lyme cases lead to Lyme carditis. This occurs when Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme-causing bacteria, enters the tissues of the heart. Patients with Lyme carditis may experience “heart block” which can be mild to severe. Symptoms of Lyme carditis can include light-headedness, fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain or heart palpitations. Sometimes a fever, body aches and the bulls-eye rash associated with Lyme can be present. Lyme carditis can be treated with antibiotics and sometimes even a temporary pacemaker, but it can, rarely, lead to sudden death if gone untreated.

Patients who experience long-term PTLDS report more severe symptoms than with other chronic illnesses and are often times left unable to work or function in a normal daily life. Preventing PTLDS is a difficult task due to complications in diagnosing Lyme disease. Symptoms mimic other common illnesses. Tick bites often go unnoticed. And the common Lyme symptom of a bulls-eye rash is not always present.

Preventing Lyme disease in Worcester is all about avoiding deer ticks and tick bites. Follow the 6 Cs of tick proofing and consider Mosquito Squad of Worcester for professional tick control on your property. Our tick barrier treatment eliminates 85-90% of deer ticks on contact. Add tick tubes for even further tick reduction. Call today.