Thursday, April 14, 2016

It's Spring, And That Means...

Hello, cafe friends!

It's spring, and you know what that means...

...time for my yearly public service announcement!

It's time to start treating pets for fleas and ticks!

The makers of Frontline now have a wonderful new product called NexGard that is a monthly chewable tablet. Hooray! No more messing with the liquid form that had to be dispensed on the dog's fur! We started giving this to Jemma last month, and she happily gobbles it up in no time.

If you are new to the Cafe, you may wonder why I make this my springtime PSA. To make a long story short, I have suffered from chronic Lyme disease, and if I can help you or your loved ones from contracting this disease, then my work here is worth it.

I'm going to save my personal history for tomorrow, but today I want to share with you the signs and symptoms to look for, and of course, prevention.

But first, here is Sam's story.

Last May, in the midst of our move and just days before the packers were to arrive, my son, Sam began to experience some odd symptoms. A low grade fever. Discomfort when swallowing. Headache. He complained that it felt strange in his armpits. And then a day or so later, when he showed me a bull's eye rash that had formed on his torso, I put it all together.

Fever + headache + swollen lymph nodes + rash = Lyme disease

Another parent may have dismissed the symptoms when presented on their own, but sadly I know the signs all too well. I immediately got Sam into the pediatrician and had him put on a course of antibiotics. I'm happy to report that he quickly recovered!

Sam's case of Lyme disease was fairly typical. Fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and the textbook bulls eye rash. But here's what you may not know. Many people show atypical signs and often go misdiagnosed for years.

In my case, I often presented with rashes, but not the classic bull's eye rash. Here's what I found out. The bull's eye rash only presents itself in forty percent of Lyme disease cases.

Forty percent.

That means if a doctor is not Lyme literate and is only using the bullseye rash to determine a diagnosis, he or she will miss a proper diagnosis sixty percent of the time.

Here's what you need to know to stay informed:

* Tick season typically runs from early spring to late autumn, which means Lyme disease cases get reported this time of year as well.

* Prevention is always good medicine. Avoid walking in thick brush and undergrowth, where ticks hide and look for a passenger to hitch hike on.

* Avoid exposed skin when walking and hiking.

* Do a thorough tick check on your body after hikes, and wash clothes quickly in hot water.

* Spraying with DEET is a clinically proven deterrent. Yes, it stinks and it's full of nasty chemicals, but it works.

* Know how to remove a tick using tweezers, grasping at the base and pulling straight up. Do not attempt other tick removal methods. This one is the most effective.

*Your pets can also contract Lyme disease. Consider having them vaccinated.

Lyme disease is quickly becoming a major problem in the United States, with more cases being reported every year. Get the facts, know what to look for, and keep your family and pets safe.

Stay healthy, cafe friends!

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