Sunday, 26 December 2010

What you can expect to happen after you have been bitten by a tick

Let it be said, that treatment with tetracycline is VERY important if you don't want to land up feeling like a bus has run you over in a few years time...  antibiotic therapy is most important, and can be life saving. 
Tick bite fever is a bacterial infection (rickettsia) transmitted by ticks. The symptoms of tick bite fever can vary considerably in severity and should be treated with antibiotics such as doxycycline.  This condition occurs in many areas of the world and is often known by a variety of names.  Where there is rickettsia, more often than not, lurks Lyme disease (borrelia burgdorferi).
A course of 3 weeks of Doxycycline can stem the development of Lyme disease and it's co-infections, but there is no guarantee.  This tiny little creature, sometimes the size of a poppy seed, is deadly.
Without proper treatment, you may experience joint pain and stiffness of th body if your disease progresses as well as neurological symptoms. A great number of people who develop Lyme disease experience joint pain and usually one or two joints are affected at a time,.  The knee is the the most common joint, followed by the shoulder, ankle, elbow, and hip.  Initially, joint discomfort may come and go but after months of infection, more typical symptoms of arthritis occur, with swelling, redness, and pain in the affected joint that may last for months if not years.
Some patients have no symptoms, despite evidence in the spinal fluid of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Others develop typical symptoms of meningitis, which include headache, stiff neck, and light avoidance. Nerve inflammation can manifest as facial muscle paralysis, often with just one side affected, causing a distorted appearance and drooling, or as pain or paralysis in the arms or legs. Seizures, eye inflammation, emotional changes, depression, and poor memory and concentration can also develop. Children tend to develop irregular, jerky movements of the arms, legs, or face. Some say that Neurological symptoms usually resolve within a few months, but mine have persisted for 11 years.  They started about 5 years after my last bout of tick bite fever.
Heart symptoms can occur in up to 10% of patients with untreated Lyme disease. and can show up as abnormal rhythms, which may be noticeable as palpitations, or as confusion, fatigue, dizziness and/or fainting. Sometimes patients are not aware of symptoms.  I thought my symptoms were related to my age, until I received a true diagnosis after blood tests.
Neurological changes can also happen, with memory and concentration problems, inability to sleep, chronic fatigue, and even personality changes. Specific nerve disorders may also persist, causing partial paralysis in affected muscles. i.e. Bell's Palsy and Parkinson's disease.
Sometimes musculoskeletal problems become chronic even after correct Lyme disease treatment has appeared to have been successful.   Lyme disease has symptoms similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome, including chronic pain, headache, fatigue, joint stiffness, and sleep disturbances. All are difficult to diagnose with certainty. Fibromyalgia, which can occur after Lyme disease, is also characterized by similar symptoms.

My advice.  Don't mess about with any tick bite.  Seek a doctor who is WELL VERSED in the treatment of Rickettsia and Lyme to ensure you don't relapse.  After 16 years of mis-diagnosis, I ended up having to stop work at age 57 due to my ill health caused by rickettsia, Lyme disease and Q Fever, all of which I pick up in South Africa in my own garden in Johannesburg, despite the fact that the Department of Health deny this is possible !!