Physically Fit Fridays - Lyme After Lyme #1

By Jane Ferrara, MA, RN posted 05-11-2018 20:16

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Enjoy today's Physically Fit Friday.

Lyme Disease has nothing to do with limes.  Why, it doesn't even have anything to do with plucky pineapples.  But it does have something to do with ticks - those creepy tiny bugs that like to drink human blood.  Some of these bloodsuckers carry bacteria that cause Lyme Disease.  The bacteria are called spirochetes.  The best way to prevent Lyme Disease is to prevent tick bites.

The warm temperatures we have been enjoying recently have led some experts to note that tick activity is starting earlier this year.  Ticks wait for months, clinging to a blade of grass, just waiting to grab onto your dog who will transport them into your house, your furniture, your carpet.  This increases the PROBABILITY (math word of the week) that they will make their way onto you!

Ticks feed on mice, dogs, deer, squirrels, horses and people.  Animals are like a big tick parade.  Ticks have 8 legs, but are so tiny that they may look like nothing more than a speck of dirt.  They are found in grassy or wooded areas.  During the months when you are wearing shorts and tee shirts, ticks can easily attach to your skin.

You won't feel anything when a tick first bites you.  You won't even notice when a tick is feeding.  After a tick bites you, it can release spirochetes.  If the infected tick remains on your body for more than 1 or 2 days, there is a small chance that you may develop Lyme Disease.

A doctor can tell you for sure if you have Lyme Disease.  The most common symptoms are feeling tired, achy, chills, headache, and a red circular rash.  It's called a bull's eye rash because it has rings like a bull's eye mark.  It's important to see a doctor if you think you have Lyme Disease.  A doctor will prescribe medication to kill the spirochetes.

Lyme Disease was first discovered in the United States in Old Lyme, Connecticut.  That's L-Y-M-E.  And that's how it got its name.  In the United States,  most infected ticks are found in the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and the coastal Northeast.  That includes our home state of Massachusetts.

You can fight the bite.  If you plan on hiking in the woods, wear a long sleeved shirt, long pants and tuck those pants into your socks.  And wear a hat.  June and July are the worst months for ticks, but you can be bitten from April to October.  Using an insect repellent can help too.

Soccer and baseball seasons are here and many of you will be playing in grassy areas.  Tick checks are important for everyone who has been playing outside these days.  Have your mom, grandmother, aunt or dad look you over for tick bites.  Check the places these critters like to hide - armpits, belly buttons, behind your ears, behind your knees, and on your head.  Make sure you take a bath or shower after being outside.  This helps wash crawling ticks off and makes it easier to find them.  Jumping into a pool won't help.  Ticks can hide in bathing suits and they don't drown easily.  

If you do find a tick, have mom, grandma, auntie or dad grab the head of the tick with tweezers and pull it out slowly and firmly.  Clean the area with soap and water or alcohol.

Finally, a few jokes.

What do you call a really big tick?  MOBY TICK

What goes tick, tick, woof, woof?  A WATCH DOG

What do you call a tick on the Moon?  A LUNATIC

Stop me if you've heard these.  What do you get if you cross ants with ticks?  ALL SORTS OF ANTICS

Thank you.  You've been great.  I'm here every Friday morning.  Have a physically fit Friday and throw kindness around like confetti.