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Children

How to recognize Lyme symptoms in your child

Probably the most frightening thing, aside from contracting a Lyme infection yourself, is discovering that your child has Lyme. Parents number one role is to protect, after all. We are the first line of defense between our kids and the big, bad world. We’re hardwired to keep broken glass, vampires and werewolves at bay, to say nothing of the lions, tigers and bears. But some adversaries come in small sizes. Sometimes they’re even invisible to the naked eye.

Lyme shares a long list of symptoms with a number of other illnesses. So what sort of treatment do you give if you don’t know the difference between one disease and another? How can you tell whether your kid has the flu or he’s suffering with Lyme? You find your mind racing to find answers, to fill in the blanks. But, you may reason, you never saw a tick so therefore it can’t be Lyme.

One thing we have to bear in mind is that it’s possible to get a tick bite that nobody notices. You may not have seen any ticks on your child, but if he or she was playing in an area where ticks are prone to live, it is possible that your child was exposed.

I’ve heard some medical doctors say that Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from a tick who hasn’t been attached to a person’s skin for less than 24 hours. I’ve heard them say 36 and 48 hours as well. But according to noted researcher and former Yale post doctoral-operative fellow in therapeutic radiology, Dr. Eva Sapi, there is no evidence to suggest that Lyme can’t be contracted in less time than that. She and her research students in Lyme treatment regularly go on tick-gathering forays in the forest near their New Haven, CT research lab. She has seen people contract Lyme disease when a known-to-be infectious tick has only been attached to their skin for an hour or two, no longer.

People often make a mistake in thinking that if the
bull’s-eye rash that is so closely associated with Lyme isn’t present, than it just can’t be a Lyme infection. However, that simply doesn’t seem to be the case. Although a Lyme infection can be the most likely suspect if that rash is present, the absence of the rash does not indicated that it isn’t a Lyme infection. So if you haven’t seen a tick, and you don’t detect a skin rash, what do you look for?

Lyme symptoms in your child may include the following:

flu-like body aches that don’t improve with sleep
fever
headache
rash
crushing fatigue that is not relieved with rest
joint pain
sensitivity to florescent lights
night sweats
nausea and vomiting
insomnia
forgetfulness and confusion

If you suspect that your child may have Lyme, please try to find a good
Lyme literate doctor. Call ILADS and ask them to give you the name and contact info for the doctor or pediatrician nearest you. Don’t be surprised if a knowledgeable Lyme doctor, who suspects that your child may have a Lyme infection, starts treatment with antibiotics before test results are in. An untreated infection can involve the brain, heart, joints and all the systems of your child’s body. Early treatment for Lyme is so very important, as the disease has three stages. Treatment during stage one is the most reliable way to prevent further progression of the disease.


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Treatment issues for children with Lyme

Dr Charles Ray Jones is a man with three ordinary names - yet he couldn't be any more extraordinary in his service to chronically ill patients, the children he treats every single day.

A reader sent a note last week that brought tears to my eyes -- the joyful kind.

Here is part of her note:

"My 11 year old is now under the care of Dr. Jones and is making incredible progress in his path to wellness. I appreciate what you are doing. Thank you for being willing to get the word out. What a frustrating journey this has been but I finally have my medical support system in place. It took a while. I was told by an infectious disease specialist in Maine that I was crazy and that my son was perfectly healthy. Dr. Jones is a saint and he has given my little boy his life back. He is again running and climbing trees and happy and bubbly...a far cry from last year at this time. I wish all of you the best and again, thank you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving."

Unfortunately, too many moms can relate to being told by a medical professional that there is nothing wrong with their kid, when the reality is that if Lyme bacteria is present, treatment could restore the child's health (and the mother's sanity).

Dr Jones has been called (by a colleague of his), "an international treasure - a courageous, selfless, inspirational, and outstandingly gifted clinician who has helped thousands of the most severely ill children with Lyme disease from around the world to regain their health and their lives."
r Charles Ray Jones: upcoming interview">
Dr Jones talked with me a few weeks ago, about Connecticut Governor Rell's June 2009 decision to allow doctors to treat Lyme disease. He also talked about the significance of the recent IDSA Lyme treatment guidelines hearing in Washington, DC, and the future of Lyme disease treatment.

Listen to the interview in the member’s portal.
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