The incidence rate of Lyme disease in the state of Pennsylvania increased from 39.0 to 50.6 between 2013 and 2014. This means there is a growing need for awareness of the symptoms associated with the disease. Since Lyme disease is especially problematic for the elderly, it’s important to pay attention to certain symptoms your senior loved one may be experiencing. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of senior care in Lancaster, has put together a list of 4 common symptoms of Lyme disease along with some information on doctor-recommended treatment.
1. The Telltale Rash
The most obvious symptom of Lyme disease is a distinctive bullseye rash at the site of a tick bite. The rash appears within 3 to 30 days of exposure in 70 percent of individuals infected with the disease. The area around the rash is warm, and it typically spreads as the infection worsens.
2. Muscle and Joint Pain
Most seniors infected with Lyme disease experience moderate to severe muscle and joint inflammation and pain. The pain may come and go and randomly manifest in different parts of the body, but it typically starts to subside once antibiotic therapy has begun.
The fatigue associated with Lyme disease goes beyond the normal tiredness experienced by many seniors. The exhaustion is much more intense, has no apparent cause, and cannot be relieved with a cup of coffee or a nap. In some seniors, the fatigue may remain even after treatment has eliminated the bacteria from the body.
4. Flu-Like Symptoms
Seniors infected with Lyme disease often experience fever and chills. The fever rises and falls in a cyclical pattern and can reach as high as 106 degrees. In instances where the fever occurs before the rash, the symptom is often dismissed as the flu or another virus.
Most people with Lyme disease respond well when treated promptly with antibiotics. Doxycycline is the antibiotic most doctors prescribe, but amoxicillin and cefuroxime are also effective. The antibiotic therapy typically lasts 14 to 21 days. If the disease has progressed to the point it is affecting the central nervous system, a doctor may recommend a 14 to 28-day course of IV antibiotics. Intravenous therapy can carry significant side effects, including mild to severe diarrhea, decreased white blood cell count, and the risk of infection from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
If your loved one is being treated for Lyme disease and needs reminders to take medication or needs help with other tasks around the house, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of Parkinson’s, post-stroke, and dementia care in Lancaster, and our caregivers are expertly trained to assist with a wide variety of important tasks. For more information and to request a complimentary consultation with a friendly Care Manager, call (717) 540-4663 today.