Now that the summer season is fast approaching, many people will be coming out of hibernation and enjoying the great outdoors.
Unfortunately, “hot fun in the summertime” also comes with its share of risks—including injuries, sunburn, food-borne illness, bee stings and animal bites.
When you ask the average person about Lyme disease most people will say:
- It’s spread by ticks
- It’s relatively rare
- It causes flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, achiness and fatigue
- It’s treated with antibiotics
Well, each of those is only partially true…and not having all the facts on Lyme disease can put you at a much greater risk of contracting it or developing complications.
Here’s the complete story on Lyme disease, how you can detect it early, and how you can fight or prevent it.
Lyme disease—the emergence of a mystery
Lyme disease originated around 1975 and was named after the East Coast town of Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first identified.
Within two years, the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis, also known as the deer tick) was linked to transmission of the infection.
Then in 1982, scientists discovered the bacterium responsible for the infection–a spirochete named Borrelia burgdorferi—which also happens to be related to the bacterium that causes syphilis.
The Lyme bacterium has a knack for hiding and survival. It has the ability to live inside your cells as well as also encoating itself in a “cyst” form. That’s why treatment of Lyme disease can be so difficult and recurrence of symptoms can occur after typical antibiotic protocols.
Just as it’s a challenge to treat Lyme disease, it’s also a difficult to diagnose it to begin with! Laboratory tests have been shown to be unreliable at times because there are many species of the Lyme bacterium, but only a handful of strains are detectable with current lab technology.
That means people can go for months or years without being properly diagnosed (or treated) and continue to suffer a variety of symptoms (more on that below).
It starts with a tick bite—or maybe not
The typical Lyme infection starts with a tick that’s carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium jumps off a deer, bird or other animal and gets on you.
Then it immediately gets to work numbing your skin so you won’t feel it. It prefers dark, secluded areas such as your armpit, behind your ear or on your scalp.
But ticks aren’t the only guilty parties here. The bacteria can also be spread by other insects including mosquitoes, spiders, fleas, and mites. So it’s very possible to contract Lyme disease without ever having come in contact with a tick.
After being bitten, one of the first signs that something is awry is a bulls-eye-like rash on your skin, but again note that if a tick didn’t do the biting (and you were instead bitten by another Lyme-carrying insect), the rash might be shaped differently.
The myriad of symptoms
As I mentioned above, the typical signs of Lyme disease are flu-like symptoms, but that’s not always the case.
Because Lyme can form partnerships with many other co-infections, and between them all they can cause a myriad of symptoms and mimic other disorders such as:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vision and hearing problems
- Heart problems
- Facial palsy
It’s not as rare as you might think
Although many people think Lyme disease is rather rare, it’s not quite as rare as you would think (or like).
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in the US each year. This is about 10 times higher than the officially reported number of cases, suggesting that Lyme disease is being vastly underreported.
Plus blood tests don’t always pick up cases of Lyme. One of the reasons blood tests can be so unreliable is that the bacterium can infect your white blood cells, and the tests measure white blood cell antibody production.
If your white blood cells are infected, they don’t respond to an infection and produce antibodies like they should. So therefore there will be no antibodies showing that a blood test can pick up—in other words, you get a false negative.
Once your immune system’s white blood cells recover and begin to respond normally, only then will antibodies begin to be produced and show up on a blood test—and by that time, you can have full-blown Lyme disease.
Fighting Lyme disease—prevention first
As is the case for most all illnesses, prevention is the key.
If you and your family spend time outdoors, check for ticks daily on yourself, your children and pets.
Bathe or shower within two hours after coming in from the outdoors if possible to wash off and more easily find any ticks or tick bites.
And if you’ve been in a known tick-infested area, do a careful full body check and closely examine your clothing for ticks. If you’re unsure about ticks being in your clothes, tossing them in a dryer on high heat for an hour will kill any you may not have seen.
And of course, see a doctor immediately if you develop the classic “bull’s-eye” rash.
Help your body along if you’ve got it
If you’ve already contracted Lyme disease, you can help your body fight the challenges of the condition, encourage strong immune system functioning, and help counteract the effects of the hefty antibiotics that are usually prescribed.
Here is a three-step approach that can help you with this important challenge:
1- Engage the power of a healthy diet
Nourishing your body with a healthy, easily-digested diet is number one here, and this is why:
First of all, having a diet comprised of meals that are easier for your system to digest can help eliminate built-up toxic wastes in your body and maintain the proper pH environment in your intestines.
So you can be a much less attractive home to illness and disease overall, and your body can better eliminate harmful bacteria and toxins with your bowel movements.
The nutrients in a healthy diet play a big part too.
Antioxidant vitamins and minerals can help fight the damage caused by infections and viruses.
Plus, Vitamins A, D and folate all encourage healthy, proper cell growth.
And many of the phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables have been shown to have immune-enhancing properties and are potent antioxidants as well.
When your digestion is accomplished more easily and thoroughly, not only will you be helping to eliminate toxic waste build-up, but you’ll also help maximize your body’s absorption of immune-enhancing nutrients from your foods.
2- Beef up your army of helpful bacteria
Since 70-80% of your immune system lies in the beneficial bacteria in your gut, it’s essential to make sure yours are healthy and in the proper balance.
In addition to a healthy diet (like I described above) which helps nourish your friendly flora, probiotic supplementation can help you achieve this important, health-enhancing goal.
Super Shield’s 13 strains of friendly bacteria are up to the task, ready to line your intestinal walls and make them less porous (so bacteria and toxins can’t “leak out”), help keep your digestion smooth and be on the lookout for “suspicious invaders.”
Plus Super Shield can help your body bounce back from “antibiotic destruction” of your helpful gut bacteria.
3- Additional measures
Here are other natural, safe measures you can consider taking in the fight against Lyme disease:
- Foods such as garlic, leeks, onions, radishes and cabbage have been known to have anti-infectious properties.
- Helpful spices include thyme, fennel, clove, cayenne pepper, turmeric and ginger.
- CoQ10 can help support cardiac health.
- Fish oil can help reduce inflammation in the muscles and joints. And for a high-quality formula that provides the recommended proportions of the all-important essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, check out our very own VitalMega-3.
Lyme disease is sneaky and can challenge your health in so many ways.
But by being diligent about prevention, strengthening your body from within and beefing up your immune system, you can make tremendous strides in fighting this mysterious and often debilitating condition and helping to keep it far away from you!
To your health,
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