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Sure Signs You Have Lyme Disease Like Justin Bieber

The supermodel gets candid about her struggles with Lyme Disease.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Justin Bieber has quite the glamorous life as a superstar, but behind the scenes of his photo shoots, gigs and fast paced lifestyle, the 28-year-old reportedly had to battle with Lyme disease—"a multisystemic illness that can affect the central nervous system (CNS), causing neurologic and psychiatric symptoms," the National Library of Medicine states. "For those who are trying to downplay the severity of Lyme disease, please do your research and listen to the stories of people who have suffered with it for years," said his wife Hailey. Lyme disease can be debilitating, but if caught early enough, patients can make a full recovery, according to Dr. Jeannie Kenkare, chief medical officer and founder of PhysicianOne Urgent Care who explained signs of Lyme disease to watch out for. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

What is Lyme Disease and What Causes It

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Dr. Kenkare says, "Lyme disease is a bacterial infection passed to humans from the bite of infected black-legged ticks (also commonly known as deer ticks). Typically no larger than a small sesame seed, these ticks tend to climb plants and grass, where they wait for a host. Once an animal or human passes by, the tick affixes itself to the host, so it can draw blood for nourishment. As it does, an infected tick may then transmit the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi into the host's bloodstream. Once infected with the bacteria, one may experience symptoms such as the characteristic bulls-eye rash, typically followed by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue and joint pains."

LymeDisease.org states, "Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete—a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme is 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 frequently misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and various psychiatric illnesses, including depression. Misdiagnosis with these other diseases may delay the correct diagnosis and treatment as the underlying infection progresses unchecked."

2

Fever

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Dr. Kenkare states, "Although not exclusive to Lyme disease, fever is a common early symptom and can be the first sign of the body's response to the foreign bacterial infection."

LymeDisease.org shares, "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 at all. Estimates of patients who develop a Lyme rash vary widely, ranging from about 30% to 80%…LymeDisease.org has developed a Lyme disease symptom checklist to help you document your exposure to Lyme disease and common symptoms for your healthcare provider."

3

Joint Pain

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According to Dr. Kenkare, "After a tick bite, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease enters the body. In later stages it can settle in a single joint – the bacteria of Lyme disease particularly favors the knee but can shift from one joint to another." 

4

Bulls-Eye Rash

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"The classic Lyme disease rash is called Erythema migrans – it is a reddish ring with a clearing centrally, giving the appearance of a bulls-eye," says Dr. Kenkare. "This rash can occur at the site of the tick bite or at locations on the body distant from the bite as well. Not all Lyme disease infections will produce an erythema migrans rash – but when it does, it is diagnostic for Lyme disease." 

5

Who is at Risk for Lyme Disease?

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Dr. Kenkare explains, "Lyme disease can affect people of any age, but people who spend time outdoors participating in activities such as camping, hiking, golfing, or working or playing in grassy and wooded environments are at increased risk of exposure. You can reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease by preventing tick bites through use of insect repellants and wearing long sleeves and long pants tucked into socks when walking through wooded areas. Check your clothing, yourself and your family (including your pets) after spending time in wooded or grassy areas for ticks. That said, sometimes even the best precautions aren't enough to prevent tick bites, however, removing the tick within 24-48 hours will greatly reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease."

6

How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Overall Health and Well-Being?

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Dr. Kenkare says, "When treatment is sought out and antibiotic medications are administered in a timely fashion, people tend to recover fully from Lyme disease without long term complications. However, when treatments are delayed or discovery of the illness is late, a person can suffer serious health problems, including heart problems, joint pain and neurologic problems such as meningitis, numbness or weakness of the arms or legs, weakness or paralysis of one side of the face (Bell's palsy), and cognitive issues. Therefore, if you might have been bitten by a tick and you experienced early symptoms such as a rash, fever, headache or joint pain; or you've had a bug bite that is concerning you, we recommend getting checked by a medical professional to determine the best course of treatment." 

The National Library of Medicine says, "Up to 40% of patients with Lyme disease develop neurologic involvement of either the peripheral or central nervous system. Dissemination to the CNS can occur within the first few weeks after skin infection. Like syphilis, Lyme disease may have a latency period of months to years before symptoms of late infection emerge. Early signs include meningitis, encephalitis, cranial neuritis, and radiculoneuropathies. Later, encephalomyelitis and encephalopathy may occur. A broad range of psychiatric reactions have been associated with Lyme disease including paranoia, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, major depression, anorexia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Depressive states among patients with late Lyme disease are fairly common, ranging across studies from 26% to 66%. The microbiology of Borrelia burgdorferi sheds light on why Lyme disease can be relapsing and remitting and why it can be refractory to normal immune surveillance and standard antibiotic regimens."

LymeDisease.org shares, "Untreated or undertreated Lyme can cause some people to develop severe symptoms that are hard to resolve. This condition may be referred to as post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLD) or chronic Lyme disease (CLD). We don't know exactly how many people who are diagnosed and treated remain ill. CDC estimates range from 10-20%. A recent study of early Lyme disease treated at EM rash reported 36% remain ill. (Aucott 2013)"

7

Time of Year to Watch Out for Ticks

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Dr. Kenkare explains, "Ticks are associated with warm spring and summer days; however, ticks are active year-round, even in the Northeast. They can carry a range of diseases that are harmful to humans, and Lyme disease is only one of them. It only takes 48-hours of above-freezing temperatures for ticks to become active. Performing daily tick checks is important – removing the tick within 24-hours will greatly reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. If you have any questions or concerns about a tick bite or any other bug bite, we recommend seeking medical care." 

8

How to Help Prevent Lyme Disease

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Marc Potzler, Board Certified Entomologist for Ehrlich Pest Control gives the following tips for helping prevent Lyme disease.

  1. "Dress smartly: If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, consider wearing long pants, long sleeves and closed-toe shoes. If you are hiking or in wooded areas, tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from crawling up your pant legs. 
  2. Insect Repellent: Use an EPA-registered insect repellent while you are outside. We recommend repellent containing at least 20% DEET.
  3. Stay away from thick vegetation: Try to stay away from thick vegetation. Stay in the center of hiking trails and keep your pets from rubbing against brush.
  4. Lighten up: Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks. 
  5. Daily Inspections: When coming in from the outdoors, inspect yourself, your family and your pets for ticks. 
  6. Keep your yard tidy: Remove weeds and cut grass low. Ticks love to hide in vegetation. 
  7. Regular Vet appointments: Maintain routine check-ups for your pets and ask your veterinarian about tick prevention. 
  8. Frequent Groomings: Keep your pets safe by maintaining frequent groomings to keep their fur tidy, which makes it easier to spot ticks. 
  9. Professional treatment: Contact a pest management professional to get a tick treatment for your yard. The professional treatment will target the tick harborage spots in your yard. 
  10. Remove the tick: If you have taken these precautions and still spot a tick, use tweezers to gently grab the tick near the head and as close to the skin as possible. Twist to remove it from your skin and disinfect the area immediately. Preserve the tick in isopropyl alcohol and call your doctor immediately." 
Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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