Watch Out for Lyme Disease
Now that the warm weather has settled in, more folks are outside, getting in plenty of hiking and spending lots of time in the yard and woods. It’s also tick season, and this year is expected to be our worst season of all. There is a huge population growth of white-footed mice that carry Lyme disease, and ticks often get it from those mice. Additionally, the unnaturally warm winter we had means even more ticks for the year. It will be quite possible to see a rise in diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Keep an Eye Out
Since many folks seek out the assistance of pharmacists before they head over to see the family doctor, it’s vital that we pay attention to the symptoms:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle and joint aches
- Erythema migraines rash
There are other symptoms that take on if the disease is not diagnosed quickly and include:
- Facial palsy
- Severe headaches
- Severe joint and muscle pain
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Inflammation of brain and spinal cord
- Memory problems
If anyone is asking about any of these problems, it’s important to question any activities that may have resulted in ticks over the last 30-60 days. Not everyone has the same symptoms, and these symptoms can be assumed to be another issue, resulting in a misdiagnosis and delay of proper treatment.
Treatment Options Available
Most cases are treated with a simple oral antibiotic such as amoxicillin, doxycycline, cefuroxime axetil. There are a few cases in which the patient has a neurological or cardiac illness that will require intravenous treatment. There are quite a few folks who will want an alternative remedy and, at this time, only antibiotics are proven to work. A quick online search will unleash a lot of alternative options, but none have been tested and approved as legit treatments. If your patient asks about alternative treatment, it’s simply best to encourage them to see the family doctor for proper diagnosis and proper antibiotics.
The Problem with Chronic Lyme Disease
Occasionally, and not very often, there will be a patient with Chronic Lyme disease. This is a situation in which the disease comes and goes and when it flares up, it’s quite difficult. The problem is that the CDC has not identified Chronic Lyme disease, and insurance companies won’t recognize diagnosis that is not recognized by the CDC. This leaves patients frustrated that their care is not covered by their insurance companies. Seeking out sliding scale pharmacy programs will benefit these patients greatly. Do offer them some referral to a local organization that can help them obtain the medicines they need for a functional life.
Lyme disease is curable for most and should not cause anyone to fear the outdoors. With education on how to keep ticks at bay and how to get a quick diagnosis, this could be a tick season in which we keep people out of harm’s way.