LONDON, Apr 19: In recent years there appears to have been a spate of celebrities talking about their struggles with Lyme disease, with Martine McCutcheon the latest famous face to reveal that she has been diagnosed with the condition.
Other known sufferers include Kelly Osbourne, Avril Lavigne and Bella Hadid, who said her teenage years were “taken” from her due to the disease. But exactly what is Lyme disease and how can it be avoided? Read on for our need to know guide…
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection which is spread to humans by infected ticks. Ticks are found in woodland and heath areas, and feed on the blood of birds and mammals, including humans. While Lyme disease can often be treated effectively if it’s detected early on, there’s a risk that you can develop severe and long-lasting symptoms if treatment is delayed.
Many people with early stage Lyme disease will develop a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite around three to 30 days after being bitten. However around one in three people won’t develop the rash. Some people may suffer flu-like symptoms such as tiredness, muscle and joint pain, headaches, a high temperature and chills in the early stages.
If Lyme disease is not detected or treated early on, it can lead to the development of more serious symptoms including the following:
Pain and swelling in the joints
Problems affecting the nervous system – including pain and numbness in limbs, memory problems and difficulty concentrating
Heart problems – such as inflammation of the heart muscle, heart block and heart failure
Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningtitis)
Some people with Lyme disease also go on to discover symptoms that are similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, which is known as post-infectious Lyme disease.
STORY: Yolanda Foster opens up about her debilitating battle with Lyme disease