Ticks are a sensitive subject during the summertime in North America. And for good reason: a quick google of the word ‘tick’ will bring up stories such as “A New York Man Was Killed by a Rare Brain-Infecting Disease Spread by Ticks” and “Ticks are Reaching Record Numbers in North Carolina” – and it’s only August.
Adult ticks – which are about the size of a sesame seed – can be active any time the temperature is above freezing, but they are most active during the warmer months. They are particularly pervasive from March to mid-May and from mid-August to November.
Ticks can be infected with bacteria, viruses or parasites, and carry pathogens that can be passed onto humans through the bite of an infected tick. The most commonly found tick-borne illnesses include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever.
In the United States alone, more than 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); however, health officials have acknowledged that the true number of cases is likely much higher.
Lyme has been diagnosed in almost every state, but recent reports show that 90% of cases stemmed from 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Celebrities from Shania Twain to Avril Lavigne, Alec Baldwin, Yolanda Hadid, and Ben Stiller have been outspoken about their battles with the illness. Lavigne has even used her platform to spread awareness, famously telling People Magazine in 2015 that she was “bedridden for five months” due to her crippling symptoms.
There is no direct way to test for Lyme disease – doctors can only test for the presence of antibodies that your body releases in response to the disease. If a test comes back negative, it may be that the antibodies haven’t built up enough to be detected, so if you think you have Lyme disease, it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible.
Lyme disease – transmitted by the black-legged tick – has been called the “Great Imitator,” because its symptoms can mimic hundreds of other medical problems.
Symptoms of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases may be subtle or pronounced, and range from digestive and respiratory issues to vision impairments, neurological issues, and skin problems.
Prevention Tips (and what to do if you’ve been bitten)
Be tick aware. Use these prevention tips to maximize your safety!
- Avoid areas where ticks live: woodpiles, long grass, leaf piles, and beach grass.
- Apply doTerra’s TerraShield Outdoor Blend which contains powerful essential oils and other plant oils known to provide outdoor protection in a natural, safe way.
- Alternatively, other EPA-approved tick repellents (such as DEET) can be used, but we recommend trying natural products first.
- Remove your clothing once you get home and toss it into the dryer for 10-15 minutes at a HIGH temperature.
- Examine yourself and your pets DAILY.
- Check EVERYWHERE: ticks love to hide and are often found in hairy, hot places on your body. (Yes, even your armpits.)
For more information on all common tick-borne diseases, go to https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/index.html.
How Chiropractic Can Help with Symptoms
A Science Daily report shows that 15% of patients with Lyme disease develop central nervous system involvement – resulting in painful, sometimes debilitating symptoms. And, this is not exclusive to Lyme disease: it can be felt by any tick-borne illness.
New research also indicates that inflammation plays a major factor in the neurological changes associated with Lyme. Chronic Lyme symptoms include fatigue, restless sleep, aching joints and muscles, speech problems, decreased short-term memory, and pain and/or swelling in the knees, shoulders, elbows, and other joints.
Inflammation is a normal and healthy way for the body to preserve itself. It helps the body to heal by removing harmful irritants and pathogens. The issue arises when inflammation becomes chronic. At this point, the body responds by creating even more inflammation.
While there is no one answer or quick remedy for fixing the ailments caused by Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, anti-inflammatory drugs have been used to prevent inflammatory reactions in the body. For people who don’t want to take medication, or have found that it isn’t enough to resolve their pain, chiropractic adjustments can help with the aches and pains by triggering a positive response in the immune system.