If your child is complaining of aches and pains or that their bones are hurting, don’t just chalk it up to growing pains. Their symptoms could be related to Lyme disease.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 75,000 children under the age of ten in the United States are diagnosed with Lyme disease per year. The number is likely higher if you think about the number of unreported cases or misdiagnosed cases.
If your child enjoys the outdoors, they are at risk of encountering the black-legged tick that carries the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, that leads to Lyme disease. Recent reports this type of tick is now reportedly in all United States.
It’s important to note that not all black-legged ticks carry Lyme disease. For a tick to get Lyme disease, they must have latched on to an animal that had Lyme disease. As they develop, most ticks latch onto small animals and later, latch onto larger animals or humans.
Children Most At Risk
Ticks are more prevalent in the Spring and Summer seasons, as well in areas with warmer temperatures. While ticks become dormant in freezing weather, they don’t die. They wait for the weather to warm.
States like Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have the highest incidences of tick bites. But they are not the only ones. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Northern California are among the top as well.
The more a child spends time outdoors, the higher the chances of getting a tick bite. But don’t let that stop your child from having fun outside. There are plenty of ways to prevent tick bites, which are discussed below.
But first, you should be aware of Lyme’s symptoms so you can know when to be evaluated by a doctor.
Lyme Disease in Children
Children have symptoms that are similar to adult symptoms of Lyme disease. A red rash, usually bullseye, can appear anywhere on the body. If you see this rash, head straight to the doctor for treatment. Some children do not get a rash. So don’t rely only on a rash’s appearance to decide whether or not to seek help.
Other symptoms include feeling tired a lot, aches and pains in the muscles or joints, weakness, eye problems, and paralysis in the face like Bells Palsey. Other symptoms can include a stiff neck, fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. Swollen glands, loss of appetite, headaches, problems with memory, and concentration can appear alone or together.
Lyme Can Affect a Child’s Lifestyle
Lyme disease can wreak havoc on the lifestyle of a child and the whole family. Children don’t often know how to communicate their emotions, feelings, or needs. Instead, you likely notice changes in their behaviors.
Parents may think their children have behavioral problems before being diagnosed or are just acting out because they are irritable. Lyme disease creates a vicious cycle of sleep problems, fatigue, irritability, mood problems, and pain that can go hand in hand with one another.
Completing tasks like homework will become increasingly more challenging. Struggling with homework and other school-related projects will make it difficult for your child to succeed in the classroom.
Lyme Can Affect Schooling
The symptoms of Lyme disease can make it challenging to stay focused on learning. Pain, cognitive issues, and even psychiatric problems that some children may encounter will interfere with their ability to grow and develop.
One of the biggest problems is said to be sleep disturbances in children. Lyme can create major disorders in a child’s sleeping patterns; some even experience circadian rhythm imbalances. Teachers see kids falling asleep during class, and parents see them staying awake all night.
Depending on which parts of the body are affected most, students can struggle and even fall behind if their Lyme disease diagnosis is not considered when creating their learning plan.
All of these issues can have a devastating effect on a child’s self-esteem. This makes proper diagnosis and treatment with a Lyme literate doctor crucial.
How Lyme Disease is Treated
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics, usually medicine like doxycycline, which is very strong. For many, a round or two of antibiotic treatments is enough to rid your child’s body of the infection associated with Lyme disease. For many, it is not enough.
If antibiotics do not heal your child’s body, there are many other treatments you can try to help eliminate Lyme disease and ease the symptoms your child experiences. Because of your child’s blood and plasma are affected, cleaning both is essential in ridding Lyme disease from the body.
Apheresis therapies can do this safely, quickly, and with proven results. Working with a Lyme literate doctor who knows and equipment to provide such treatments is a must. They will also be able to help your child deal with any post-infection symptoms.
There are things you can do to reduce the risk of Lyme. The clothing your child wears outdoors can make a huge difference in preventing Lyme disease. Covering up the arms and legs means if your child does encounter a tick, it will stick to the clothing, not the skin first.
Wear insect repellent and stay away from the thick brush when possible. If hiking, stay on the worn trails. Most importantly, perform full-body checks after returning indoors from the outside. Also, check your pets. Ticks can easily travel from your pet to your child.
Finally, keep educating yourself, your child, teachers, and anyone else who can impact your child’s life about their disease and how they can help in helping your child achieve success despite dealing with Lyme disease.