Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is typically spread to humans via ticks which will have already bitten an infected animal such as a deer, mouse or hedgehog. Ticks with Lyme disease can be found across the UK but are most prevalent in grassy, wooded areas. Recently Lyme disease gained quite a bit of attention when the singer Justin Bieber revealed he suffers from the disease.
Cases of Lyme disease in the UK may be three times higher than previous estimates, according to new research.
Health experts analysed medical records of 8.4 million people from across the UK and forecast that the total number of Lyme disease diagnosis in the UK could top 8,000 compared with previous estimates of between 2,000 and 3,000.
The difficulty with Lyme disease is its unusual symptoms are not easily identifiable as belonging solely to the illness.
Feeling this sensation in your head, however, could mean you’re at risk of tick-borne disease.
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Lyme disease: Feeling this sensation in your head is a warning
The disease was first reported in the US in 1977 in Old Lyme, Connecticut, hence the name.
The National Institutes of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) states that individuals who spend the majority of their time outdoors are most at risk of being exposed to ticks which spread Lyme disease.
Lyme disease has many symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose.
Early symptoms can be similar to those of flu and about a quarter of cases will develop a circular red rash around the bite.
Another sign of Lyme disease lies in a person’s head.
Paediatrics Official Journal of the American Academy of Paediatrics said: “Increased intracranial pressure in patients with Lyme disease is an uncommon but reported finding.
“Two patients from Lyme endemic areas presented symptoms such as headache, nausea, and vomiting.
“Two cases of children presented chronic headaches due to Lyme disease.”
Lyme disease: Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by a tick bite
How to diagnose the disease?
Full clinical diagnosis is required for Lyme disease which requires a blood test.
If caught early, most cases can be successfully treated with antibiotics within four weeks.
However, if left untreated, the infection could lead to permanent damage to the joints and nervous system.
According to new draft guidance published by NICE in February, doctors are advised not to wait for a potential Lyme disease patient’s blood test results if they already have a bullseye rash on their body.
Professor Gillian Leng, director of health and social care at NICE said: “If a characterises bull’s eye rash is present, healthcare professionals should feel confident in diagnosing Lyme disease.”
If you have been suffering from severe headaches, accompanied by a stiff neck, speak to your GP about the possible causes and if you have a bullseye rash along with the headaches, see your GP immediately.