When former teen idol Debbie Gibson went public with the news that she had Lyme disease, she hoped her fans would show compassion for her unhealthy appearance and lack of energy. Turns out, that was "Only in (Her) Dreams."
Instead, they took to social media, ridiculing her as skinny and unattractive.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gets 30,000 reports annually about Americans with Lyme disease. But recently, they discovered that the actual number diagnosed with the infection is 10 times that — 300,000!
And who knows how many cases go undiagnosed.
What this means — particularly if you live in the Northeast or upper Midwest, where 96 percent of cases occur — is that you need to be aware of the symptoms. Early treatment with inexpensive antibiotics usually takes care of the problem.
Days 3 to 30 after a Lyme-infected tick bite: About 70 to 80 percent of folks get a red, expanding bulls-eye rash. Fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes are other signs.
Days to weeks later: More rashes appear, facial palsy or Bell's palsy can develop, along with severe headaches and a stiff neck (meningitis), painful and swollen joints, even heart palpitations and dizziness.
These symptoms may go away without treatment, but that doesn't mean you're out of the woods. Treatment helps you avoid chronic problems, even though 10 to 20 percent of folks who get treatment suffer lingering symptoms.
So wear long sleeves, high socks and slacks, and use insect repellant when you're out and about. And see a doctor ASAP if you think you've been bitten.
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