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In the News: Lyme Disease Awareness Month – Part II

Written by Lisa Jillanza

(Continued from Part I…)

Another reason why Lyme Disease is hard to pinpoint in patients, is that the symptoms often vary from person to person.

Symptoms of early Lyme disease may present as “a flu-like illness (fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and joint pain). Some patients have a rash or Bell’s palsy (facial drooping). However, although a rash shaped like a bull’s-eye is considered characteristic of Lyme disease, many people develop a different kind of Lyme rash or none.”

Most doctors treat Lyme Disease with a course of antibiotics. The amount and type of antibiotic is determined by length of time since the tick bite and/or suggested time since infection.

For people whose central nervous system has been affected by Lyme Disease, intravenous antibiotics and other inpatient treatment is recommended.

For people diagnosed with Lyme Disease, doctors also recommend a diet that will help avoid flare-ups due to the disease.

Gluten-free, low-sugar, low-carbohydrates, and foods that are rich in vitamins are all a suggested diet for those with Lyme Disease. Foods to avoid include dairy and refined sugars.

So how can you avoid being bit by a tick and potentially contracting Lyme Disease?

Ticks tend to be near the ground, in leaf litter, grasses, bushes and fallen logs. High risk activities include playing in leaves, gathering firewood, and leaning against tree trunks. When you hike, stay on cleared trails instead of walking across grassy fields.

Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves. Tie back long hair and wear a hat. Light-colored clothing helps you spot ticks before they cause trouble.

In the News: Lyme Disease Awareness Month – Part I

Written by Lisa Jillanza

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, a chance for Lyme patients, activists, and educators to spread information on how to prevent Lyme and tick-borne diseases. 

According to LymeDisease.org, “Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by Ixodes ticks, also known as deer ticks or blacklegged ticks. These tiny arachnids are typically found in wooded and grassy areas. Although people may think of Lyme as an East Coast disease, it is found throughout the United States, as well as in more than sixty other countries.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 476,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease in the U.S. every year. Many experts believe the number is higher though, as people with Lyme Disease are often misdiagnosed.

Although anyone can get Lyme Disease, young children, the elderly and those with jobs that require you spend time outdoors are more prone to getting Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is often called “The Great Imitator,” because its “symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart.” 

Patients with Lyme Disease are typically misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and psychiatric illness, including depression. 

Most people get Lyme Disease from the bite of a nymphal, or the immature form of the tick. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed and because they are so tiny, their bite is painless so many people don’t even realize that they have been bitten. 

Once a tick is attached, if left undisturbed it can feed for several days. The longer it is attached, the more likely it will transmit Lyme Disease and other harmful pathogens. 

(Continued in Part II…)

In the News Understanding Pneumonia – Part II

Written by Lisa Jillanza

(continued from Part I…)

What are the risk factors?

  • Age - the most vulnerable are children below 2 years and adults above 65 years.
  • Hospitalized in intensive care unit and if on support of ventilator for a prolonged period.
  • Lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can increase the risk.
  • Poor immune system - persons with weak immune system due to conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Cancer or undergone organ transplants. 

How is pneumonia diagnosed? 

Diagnosis is done by reviewing medical history, physical examination, and lab tests to confirm the condition.

What tests and procedures are typically run on someone who may have pneumonia?

X-ray: Chest X-ray is taken to check the presence of infection.

Blood culture: To check the presence of infection and identify the causative organism.

Sputum culture test: To confirm the cause of infection.

Urine test: Bacterial infection of streptococcus pneumonia and legionella pneumoniphila can be identified.

Pulse oximetry: To measure oxygen flow to the lungs.

CT scan: CT scan of chest is performed to detect the severity of infection.

Bronchoscopy: A camera fitted tube is inserted into the lungs to look into the airways and to sample out via bronchial wash helping in diagnosing the causative agent. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of pneumonia, please seek medical attention. Pneumonia can be fatal if left untreated.

In the News: Understanding Pneumonia – Part I

Written by Lisa Jillanza

While COVID and RSV are two conditions typically highlighted in the news and health reports lately, pneumonia is often overlooked but still just as prevalent, if not more, than the aforementioned.

This month we look at pneumonia and all of the things you need to know about this illness.

What is pneumonia?

An infection of the air sacs in one or both the lungs. Characterized by severe cough with phlegm, fever, chills, and difficulty in breathing. 

What causes pneumonia?

An infection caused by a bacteria or virus. 

How is it spread?

Bacterial and viral pneumonia spread through inhalation of airborne droplets by coughing or sneezing.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

Symptoms may include:

  • Cough with mucus or phlegm
  • Fever usually of high grade with chills
  • Fast breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain while coughing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling very tired or very weak
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Body pain
  • Severely affected patients my cough up blood or show cyanosis (have a blue color around the mouth due to lack of oxygen) 

What is the treatment for pneumonia? 

Both viral and bacterial pneumonia are treated with antibiotics. 

(continued in Part II…)