Spring brings spring showers, spring flowers, warmer weather, and…wood ticks. Those parasitic little 6-legged insects come out of hibernation and begin to search for a food source every spring, which sometimes end up being a pet or a person. While ticks and the Lyme disease they bring most often are found in the upper Northeast, all states in the US have had cases found in the residents that live there, with some states like Florida and California showing a large increase in ticks in recent years.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread to the host from an infected deer tick or black-legged tick. While a
person can come in contact with ticks just about anywhere outside, if your parent loves to be outside in the spring, especially in the backyard or out at local parks, she might come in contact with a tick. Ticks often also find their way indoors by hitchhiking on pets that play in long grass and more natural environments.
Symptoms can appear anywhere from 3-30 days after a bite by an infected tick, and many of the symptoms look and feel a lot like the flu. If your parent starts to exhibit any of these symptoms or if your elderly care provider has noticed them, especially if your parent has been outside a lot, you might want to plan a doctor visit to determine the origin of her symptoms.
- A rash. Commonly known as the bulls-eye rash, only about 20-30% of Lyme disease cases present with this rash. It is the most unique symptom of Lyme disease so if your parent has felt or seen this rash, plan a trip to the doctor as soon as possible. Rashes can appear wherever the tick bites, so it might not be a bad idea to ask either your elderly care provider or have yourself do a quick check of your parent’s backside if she is feeling unwell after outdoor activities. While the rash is usually not itchy or painful, it can be warm to the touch.
- Fever and chills. With or without the rash, your parent may come down with a fever and have chills. It can feel very flu-like as her body battles the bacteria in her body. Lyme disease could be the cause if she experiences these symptoms several days after removing an imbedded tick.
- Headache. Another symptom of Lyme disease that can have plenty of other causes. Keep it in mind if your parent has a headache along with other symptoms.
- Fatigue. Feeling run down and low on energy occurs in some people during the early stages of Lyme disease.
- Achy joints and muscles. If your parent has shared that she’s feeling achy all over this spring, Lyme disease could be the contributing cause.
Catching Lyme disease early is important as symptoms can progress to much more serious health issues such as arthritis, face palsy, nerve pain and an irregular heartbeat. It is also easily treated if caught early, but long-term Lyme disease may be more difficult to treat.
If you or someone you know needs help with elderly care in Kentwood, MI, contact Gauthier Family Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services in our community. Call us at (616) 258-2300 for more information.