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Health Information For Teens
You’ve probably heard of Lyme disease. It’s the leading tick-borne disease in the United States, and is most common in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and the northern midwestern states.
Lyme disease is caused by a type of
found in animals like mice and deer. Ixodes ticks (also called black-legged or deer ticks) that feed on these animals can then spread the bacteria to people through tick bites.
You probably won’t see it happening. Deer ticks are tiny, so it’s very hard to see them. Immature ticks (called “nymphs”) are about the size of a poppy seed. Adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed.
It’s easy to overlook a tick bite. Many people who get Lyme disease don’t remember being bitten. The good news is that most tick bites don’t lead to Lyme disease. But it still helps to know what to watch for.
Lyme disease can affect different body systems, such as the nervous system, joints, skin, and heart. The symptoms of Lyme disease are often described as happening in three stages. Not everyone with Lyme has all of these, though:
The rash sometimes has a characteristic “bull’s-eye” appearance, with a central red spot surrounded by clear skin that is ringed by an expanding red rash. It also can appear as an expanding ring of solid redness. It’s usually flat and painless, but sometimes can be warm to the touch, itchy, scaly, burning, or prickling. The rash may look and feel very different from one person to the next. It can be harder to see on people with darker skin tones, where it can look like a bruise. It gets bigger for a few days to weeks, then goes away on its own. A person also may have flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle aches.
Lyme disease can affect the heart. This can lead to an irregular heart rhythm, which can cause dizziness or heart palpitations. It can also spread to the nervous system, causing facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy) or meningitis.
Having such a wide range of symptoms can make Lyme disease hard for doctors to diagnose, although blood tests can look for signs of the body’s reaction to Lyme disease.
If you think you may be at risk for Lyme disease or a tick has bitten you, contact your doctor. Although conditions other than Lyme disease can cause similar symptoms, it’s always a good idea to discuss them with your doctor. That way you can get further evaluation and treatment if necessary, before the disease gets worse. This is especially true if you develop a red-ringed rash, lasting flu-like symptoms, joint pain or a swollen joint, or facial paralysis.
Lyme disease is usually treated with a 2- to 4-week course of antibiotics. Cases of Lyme disease that are diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics almost always have a good outcome. A person should be feeling back to normal within several weeks after beginning treatment.
Lyme disease is not contagious, so you can’t catch it from another person. But you can get it more than once from ticks that live on deer, in the woods, or travel on your pets. So always be cautious, even if you’ve already had Lyme disease.
There’s no sure way to avoid getting Lyme disease. But you can minimize your risk. Be aware of ticks when you’re in high-risk areas. If you work outdoors or spend time gardening, fishing, hunting, or camping, take precautions:
If you use an insect repellent containing DEET, always follow the recommendations on the product’s label and don’t overapply it. Place DEET on shirt collars and sleeves and pant cuffs, and only use it directly on exposed areas of skin. Be sure to wash it off when you go back indoors.
No vaccine for Lyme disease is currently on the market in the United States.
You should know how to remove a tick just in case one lands on you or a friend. First, don’t panic. The risk of Lyme disease after a tick bite is very low.
To be safe, though, you’ll want to remove the tick as soon as possible. That’s why a daily tick check is a good idea for people who live in high-risk areas.
If you find a tick:
Tick bites don’t usually hurt — and that can make it hard to find a bite early because pain usually helps call attention to problems. So be on the lookout for ticks and rashes, and call your doctor if you think a tick bit you.
Is the thought of Lyme disease making you feel you’ll be safer in the comfort of your room than the great outdoors? This info can help you know if you’re at risk for Lyme disease.
Generally, insect bites and stings are harmless. Find out how to keep pests from ruining your fun.
You may be wondering what the deal is with meningitis because you’ve heard frightening stuff about meningitis outbreaks in the news.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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After careful preparation, Connecticut Children’s is excited to welcome your child back for many surgeries, procedures and in-person appointments.
As you resume this important face-to-face care, you can count on us to keep your child safe and sound every step of the way. Learn about our enhanced safety program, Safe and Sound.
Call your child’s specialty clinic today to schedule a surgery, procedure or appointment, or to schedule a Video Visit.
*Please note our current visitor restrictions.
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