The beginning of May represents many things, including Lyme Disease Awareness Month. You may wonder why having an awareness month is important for Lyme disease. One reason is to save one child, teen, or adult from Lyme disease’s devastating symptoms. An awareness month puts Lyme disease in the spotlight, teaching people what it is, how to prevent it, and how to get the correct diagnosis and treatment.
The sooner someone learns to be socially aware, the better they can recognize symptoms and implement self-care techniques.
Social awareness helps us connect to others through a common issue. Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans with Lyme disease. Many more have not yet been diagnosed or have been misdiagnosed. Unfortunately, the numbers continue to grow each year.
Observing Lyme Disease Awareness Month Benefits
Observing Lyme disease awareness month gives you an edge in the following ways:
- Learning prevention methods to avoid Lyme disease
- Recognizing symptoms of early and late-stage Lyme disease
- Getting help early before symptoms become chronic
- Understanding alternative treatments to overcome the disease
- Finding Lyme-literate doctors for an accurate diagnosis and treatment
One of the most important parts of Lyme disease awareness is understanding the symptoms and when they appear. Below are ideas for how you can participate in this year’s national awareness month:
Organize Lyme Disease Symptoms Education Event
Lyme disease evolves in three stages: early localized, early dissemination, and late dissemination. As each stage arrives, symptoms worsen and make daily functioning much harder. Early localized symptoms may include:
- Bullseye rash
- Stiff neck
- Flu-like symptoms
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
These same symptoms will appear in the late dissemination stage and be accompanied by new symptoms, such as:
- Facial palsy
- Severe fatigue
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Vision changes
- Lyme carditis or heart palpitations
In the third stage, symptoms are more debilitating and can include all the symptoms from the first two stages plus the following:
- Sleep disturbances
- Anxiety, depression, or mental health symptoms
- Brain fog
- Cognitive processing problems
Organize a Prevention Hike
Prevention efforts can save lives. Tips for preventing tick-born diseases are simple, yet they can significantly impact whether or not someone will contract Lyme disease. You can teach community members how to prevent Lyme disease by leading a local hike in the woods. Before the walk, education includes the following:
- Wear light-colored clothing that covers the skin
- Wear caps or hats to protect the head
- Wear close-toed shoes
- Apply tick-repellent sprays
- Stay on the hiking trails and avoid thick, grassy areas where ticks live
After the hike, learning continues. Teach participants how to:
- Conduct a tick check
- Conduct a tick check on pets
- Teach at-home tips:
- Immediately change clothes
- Immediately shower
- Throw hiking clothes in the dryer
- Remove a tick when necessary
Create a Lyme Disease Fundraiser
Lyme disease foundations and researchers always need extra funding to further science, treatments, and education. You can help by organizing a fundraiser and designating the money for a foundation or research lab. Or donate the money to a local family dealing with the effects of Lyme disease.
You can create an online fundraiser on social media. If you do, share stories of locals struggling with Lyme disease and explain how the money will be used. If you prefer an in-person fundraising event, honor locals with Lyme disease and ask them to tell their stories at the event. You can also request a Lyme-literate doctor to discuss symptoms and alternative treatment options with participants.
Host a Lyme Disease Lunch-n-Learn
Lyme disease can change how a person performs in the office and school. You can create an event to educate teachers and business leaders about Lyme disease and what they can do to help.
Depending on symptom severity, people with Lyme disease are absent more from work and school than those without Lyme. When present, they may seem confused, lack focus, and be too tired to complete projects. Lyme disease symptoms interfere with functioning, causing a decrease in productivity.
If teachers and employers recognize the signs of Lyme disease, they can refer a person to a Lyme-literate doctor. Also, they can establish a different work or education plan for those diagnosed with Lyme disease to help them remain successful.
Seek Help from Local and State Leaders
Awareness brings about positive changes. You can take awareness to the next level by including local and state leaders. Below are a few ideas to get those in power to get involved:
- Ask your town’s mayor, council members, or other elected officials to help you create a proclamation that confirms that you have educated them on Lyme disease and how it affects your community. News media typically share Proclamations, spreading the word about Lyme disease further.
- Ask local actors and writers to help you create a commercial about Lyme disease to share on local television and radio. Be sure to include the mayor or congress members for added value.
- Ask your mayor, congress members, or the local Department of Natural Resources to sponsor a billboard in your town about Lyme disease.
- Create a petition and get as many community members as possible to sign it. The petition could focus on minor, local issues or worldwide concerns. Examples include the following:
- Changing the workplace, like making it illegal to fire someone diagnosed with Lyme disease and creating a flexible working plan instead.
- Making it mandatory for health teachers to discuss Lyme disease in schools.
- Creating more accurate Lyme disease tests for the nation.
- Preventing family doctors from immediately prescribing medicines to treat symptoms until after they discover the source of the symptoms, which may prevent misdiagnoses.
- Establishing a connection between local doctors and a Lyme-literate doctor who can consult on a patient’s symptoms.
There are numerous suggestions on how to observe Lyme disease awareness month. Choose something that fits with your interests, time, and comfort. Whether big or small, your efforts will help make others aware of Lyme disease.
And if you’d like more information about Lyme disease, call a Lyme-literate doctor today. They can give you all the details so you can weigh the benefits of traveling outside the United States or Canada for treatment and Lyme disease medications.