You Found a Tick… Now What?!
Since I got diagnosed and became vocal about Lyme and tick borne disease awareness, I have consistently gotten weekly 3-5 emails, messages and calls from friends and acquaintances – even complete strangers about their own tick scares, symptoms or health concerns. I thought it would be a good idea to add a page to this site to refer people for these kinds of questions. Especially during this time of year, the emails get to be a little overwhelming. This past month alone, I have received over 25 inquiries about ticks and Lyme! I wish I could personally help everyone that has questions, but there are still days that I just don’t have the energy or brain power to formulate coherent paragraphs. I hope this information helps. Please feel free to pass it along to anyone that needs it!
- So, you went camping, running, hiking or just walked your dog around the block and a few days later you find a tick attached and now it’s pretty big from feasting on your blood. It’s been on a few days and you are worried. What should you do? First things first! Remove the tick properly. Here’s how – get some tweezers and get as close to the head of the tick as possible. Pull straight out, do not squeeze! Here is a great tutorial to use – Tick Removal After you have it out, look at the area where you were bitten, and make sure no part of the tick is still inside your skin. Then sanitize the area with alcohol.
- Next, call your doctor. If you are already experiencing symptoms, make sure you let them know. Sadly, most primary care doctors will not prescribe antibiotics unless there are symptoms present, or there is a bullseye rash, but I would strongly urge you to demand at least 3-6 weeks of oral antibiotics. If you wait until there are symptoms, the beast you are dealing with will already be in your blood stream and will be much harder to treat and eradicate.
Symptoms to watch out for if you have been bitten by a tick:
• Rash (anywhere on the body, not just on the bite area and not only a “bullseye” rash. Fewer than half of Lyme cases never had a rash. But if you do have a bullseye rash, this is a clear sign of Lyme disease and requires no further testing or proof prior to starting six weeks of antibiotic therapy. Shorter treatment courses have resulted in a 40% relapse rate.
• Flu like symptoms
• Low grade fevers, “hot flashes” or chills
• Night sweats
• Sore throat
• Swollen glands
• Stiff neck
• Migrating arthralgia, stiffness and arthritis
• Chest pain and palpitations
• Abdominal pain, nausea
• Sleep disturbance
• Poor concentration and memory loss
• Irritability and mood swings
• Back pain
• Blurred vision and eye pain
• Jaw pain
• Testicular/pelvic pain
• Cranial nerve disturbance (facial numbness, pain, tingling, palsy or optic neuritis)
• Mysterious migrating symptoms that seem to come and go
• Cyclical symptoms
One question I get frequently is the possibility of having Lyme or other tick borne diseases if you do not remember getting bit by a tick. My answer is absolutely, YES! Many people are getting misdiagnosed and do not know it. “Fewer than half of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite. In some studies this number is as low as 15%. So if you never saw a tick on your body, it doesn’t mean you are TBD-free.” –The Tick Borne Disease Alliance
Ticks can be as small as a freckle so you may not have even seen the tick before it fed on you, transmitted disease and fell off. Also, other insects have been found to carry the same disease-causing bacteria as ticks, which means you could have gotten Lyme and co-infections from a mosquito, flea or biting fly.
If you have been suffering with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, MS, or persistent flu-like symptoms please get to a Lyme literate doctor as soon as possible. There are some great labs that test for more strains of tick borne disease than the general Lyme tests that are available at your regular doctor. It is good to get tested accurately, but keep in mind that no matter what your test results, Lyme is a clinical diagnosis and you should be treated if you have multiple symptoms that you don’t have answers for. Remember that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are not a “diagnosis” – they are a symptom of a bigger problem. In addition, no one knows the cause of MS, but Lyme definitely can cause the same symptoms and the same lesions on the brain. Most doctors will “diagnose” you with these labels simply because they do not know what is wrong with you. I was misdiagnosed for years. Do not let it happen to you. You must become your own advocate for your health.