Frequently Asked Questions About Lyme Disease

lyme disease faq

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  • The ticks that carry Lyme disease produce bite marks that look like any other normal tick bites
  • According to the journal Scientific American, it’s possible that Lyme disease can transfer from pregnant mothers to their unborn infants

Q: How do you get Lyme disease?

A: Lyme disease is mainly caused by tick bites, specifically deer ticks. If you’re from the West Coast, black-legged ticks are the main source, and they are normally found in grassy and wooded areas.1

The ticks that carry the disease are called nymphs, which are young and very small. They’re hard to see as they only measure less than 2 millimeters in length. They can attach to any part of your body and they usually take 36 hours to transfer the bacteria to your system.

Q: What does a Lyme disease bite look like?

A: The ticks that carry Lyme disease produce bite marks that look like any other normal tick bites. The bites are usually painless and you might not even notice them until the symptoms have already developed. The earliest signs of tick bites are usually itching, burning and a red spot on the affected area. In rare cases, localized intense pain in the bite areas may develop.2

Q: How long does Lyme disease last?

A: The duration of Lyme disease depends on how quickly the symptoms can be treated. In stage 1 Lyme disease, for example, the rashes can last up to four weeks if left untreated.3 Stage 2, which occurs months after the tick bite, can last anywhere between one to four months. The third and last stage is hard to predict, as it can produce health complications such as arthritis, fatigue, memory problems and pericarditis.4

Q: What are the side effects of Lyme disease?

A: Due to the difficulty of detecting a Lyme disease tick bite, complications can develop depending on how your body reacts to the disease. These include:5

Facial paralysis

Vision problems

Sleeping problems

Chronic joint inflammation

Reduced cognitive performance

Heart rhythm irregularities

Q. Can Lyme disease be sexually transmitted?

A. Currently, there is no strong scientific evidence to support this claim.6 However, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine suggests that it is possible. Women who tested positive for Lyme disease had traces of the bacteria in their vaginal secretions, which may transfer to their partners through sexual intercourse. While this may be possible, extensive studying still needs to be done.7

Q. Can Lyme disease affect pregnancy?

A. There is some evidence that supports a link between Lyme disease and pregnancy. According to the journal Scientific American, it’s possible that Lyme disease can transfer from pregnant mothers to their unborn infants. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Lyme disease can lead to miscarriage.8 If you’re pregnant and you think you’ve just developed symptoms of Lyme disease, have yourself tested immediately.

Q. Can you get Lyme disease twice?

A. It’s possible that you can get the disease again once you have completely rid yourself of the disease-causing bacteria from your system. You can get it from another tick bite, requiring you to undergo treatment again.

If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease again, have yourself checked by a doctor. The symptoms may be from an entirely different disease, or the original treatment was only partially successful.9

Q. Can Lyme disease be fatal?

A. Lyme disease can be fatal depending on the complications that may develop. For example, pericarditis can cause your heart to malfunction. It can lead to cardiac tamponade, wherein your heart becomes compressed due to a buildup of fluid around it. Abscess may develop as well, which needs to be drained right away.10

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