Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Thank you for signing up to . You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.
The autoimmune disorder Lyme disease, contracted through bites of infected ticks, calls to mind toddlers playing in overgrown backyards or hunters carrying deer on their backs. However, this isn't an isolated issue—with 340,000 new cases every year, everyone is at risk, and its effects can be much more dangerous than people think.
1. The disease can affect the entire body, especially if not treated early.
Initial symptoms include any combination of rash, fever, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, joint pain and swelling, and facial paralysis. But without early treatment, the disease can go on to ravage the heart, central nervous system, and brain.
2. Its nickname is "The Great Imitator" because it's so difficult to identify.
"My patients have usually been around the block by the time I assess them—this means dozens of physicians, prescriptions, and misdiagnoses," says Dr. Elena Frid, Neurologist, Clinical Neurophysiologist, and expert on infection induced autoimmune disorders. Lyme mimics countless diseases because of its wide range of indicators, and is often disguised by the effects of other contracted tick-borne infections. Less than half of Lyme patients are even aware they've been bitten.
3. While testing is available, it's mostly inaccurate.
Nearly 50 to 70 percent of blood tests are false negatives, which makes for constant misdiagnoses and delayed care. "Lyme requires a clinical assessment, which means including considering exposure and symptoms with the test. Early detection is the key to a full recovery: if it worsens, it can wreak havoc on every system, and become a chronic issue," says Project Lyme founder, Heather Hearst.
4. Ticks can be found anywhere…even your home.
"Public parks, even small ones in cities, can harbor ticks," says Frid. Even a stroll with your pooch could put you at risk, as anywhere with trees or foliage is a safe haven for the insects. And just because your dog has been vaccinated, it doesn't mean you're protected, too. "Many people don't realize their pet needs two shots—one that immunizes the pet, and one that kills the tick on contact, so the owner can't be bitten by one that's hitched a ride into their home."
5. Depression, memory loss, and even full-blown psychosis can develop if left untreated.
In addition to the onslaught of physical manifestations, mental health can also deteriorate. Studies show Lyme cause anxiety, brain fog, and even manic episodes if allowed to spread unchecked. Many sufferers are misdiagnosed with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder before the real cause is discovered.
6. It can cause reproductive issues, and may be passed on in-utero.
Zika isn't the only insect-borne illness for expecting women to be concerned about. Conception can become difficult in later stages, and 20 percent of babies born to Lyme-infected mothers will contract it at birth, causing major and life-threatening defects.
7. Scientists believe this could be the most dangerous summer yet.
"The Earth is getting warmer, and tick season is becoming longer. They thrive in the hot summer months," says Hearst. Starting now, make an effort to protect yourself, regardless of where you live:
- Toss your clothes in the dryer for fifteen minutes after being outdoors.
- Give yourself a head-to-toe once over in a well-lit bathroom before bed.
- Use insect repellant—Frid suggests an organic brand like Buzzaway.
- Watch for signs: a rash shaped like a bull's eye, flu-like symptoms, headaches or stiff neck, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, poor memory, inability to concentrate, facial paralysis, or heart palpitations.
A post shared by Project Lyme (@projectlyme) (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by on
For more information on Lyme disease and what you can do to spread awareness, visit projectlyme.org (opens in new tab).
We're nominated for a Webby Award—but we need your vote to win! Vote for the Women and Guns project here. (opens in new tab)
Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.
The 37 Best Movies on Netflix
Of the hundreds of movies streaming on Netflix, these are the best of the best.
By Brooke Knappenberger
What are ETFs?
And why are "elder Millennials" pouring a record amount of money into exchange-traded funds? Read on to learn whether investing in ETFs is right for your wealth-building goals.
By Elana Lyn Gross
Imperfections Were the Inspiration for The Real Real’s Fourth Original ReCollection
The 90-piece collection gives new life to unwanted pieces.
By Sara Holzman
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe