Lyme disease is a growing health threat in today’s world. In the U.S. alone, some 300,000 people are diagnosed with lyme disease each year according to a new estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But that’s just a preliminary estimate; research is underway to refine the numbers, with the expectation that the actual number is much higher. And reports of lyme are rising across the globe.
Generally not a big deal when diagnosed and treated right after a tick transmits the infection, lyme left untreated is another story. A frightening story, as told by science writer Paula Weintraub in her book Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic. Check out her article “Why You Should be Afraid of Lyme Disease” here.
Lyme and other infections spread by ticks can lead to myriad devastating symptoms, both mental and physical. The longer the bacteria have roamed the body, the more entrenched they become—and the longer it can take for treatment to improve your health.
Incredible but true: There’s so much misinformation about lyme that countless people aren’t getting treated soon enough to avoid the nightmare of chronic lyme, even though it is both preventable and treatable.
People are told so many things erroneously:
“You didn’t see a tick bite or get a bull’s-eye rash along with other symptoms so you aren’t infected.” The truth? As many a half the people diagnosed never saw a tick; many more never got the rash.
Or, “You can’t have lyme, it doesn’t exist in our area” — when in fact lyme does occur where they live.
Or, “Your test is negative, so you don’t have lyme.” Lyme testing to date is imperfect; a negative test result doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no lyme infection.
Caught early, lyme is usually a short-term health issue. What’s the big deal when lyme goes unrecognized and untreated for weeks, months, or years?
- All the physical, mental, and emotional suffering.
- All the lost wages and lost productivity when people can’t work because they are ill.
- All the life savings, retirement funds, and home equity spent by individuals and entire families on treatment often not covered by insurance.
- All the missed opportunities for children unable to go to class, sustain friendships, or participate in life events from scouts and field trips to first dates, prom, and graduation.
- All the heartbreak of young adults missing out on launching their careers, attending friends’ weddings, or enjoying romantic relationships of their own.
- All the babies born with lyme, transmitted to them from their mother in utero.
Lyme is preventable, and lyme can be successfully treated. But people have to have the right information. That’s why I’m committed to learning all I can and helping get the word out.
I hope you are, too.
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