What Is Lyme Disease? As Avril Lavigne Is Diagnosed, We Take A Closer Look

Yahoo Lifestyle

For those who don't follow Avril Lavigne's every move, you might not know that the teen punk idol was out of action for a while.

But Avril has just announced that she actually spent FIVE months struggling to go about her daily life, or even get out of bed at all, thanks to something called Lyme disease.

[Pure Charts]

According to Avril Lavigne in her exclusive interview with People magazine: "I felt like I couldn't breathe, I couldn't talk and I couldn't move. I thought I was dying."

That sounds pretty darn scary if you ask us.

For some people Lyme disease might be totally old news, but for others of us, though we might have heard of the illness, we can't say we were clued up about it.

So, for those who want an education, here's what we've learned about Lyme disease this week:

How Can I Get It?

Essentially, from a bug bite.

But unlike Malaria, Dengue fever or the infamous sleeping sickness, you won't catch it from an airborne carrier like a mosquito or a fly.

You catch Lyme disease from a particular sort of tick - the Black Legged Tick, or Deer Tick as it is otherwise known.

It can be passed on, though, in the womb, from a mother to her baby.

Evidence varies about how long a tick must bite and feed on you for, in order for you to catch Lyme disease, but the longer it is embedded in your skin the higher your chances are of contracting it.

You might not even notice the tick bite though - many people (as much as 50 per cent) recognise a rash, in a bull's eye shape somewhere on their body, but a huge number of people don't remember seeing a rash or being bitten at all.

Where Can I Get Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is most frequently contracted in the Northern Hemisphere.

The largest number of recorded cases comes from the United States - with the East Coast states like New York and Maryland placing highly on the list with the most diagnoses.

The Lyme Disease Association (LDA) says that 36,307 cases were reported in 2013, but that in reality the number of people who contract Lyme disease each year is likely to be TEN TIMES that amount - which would bring the tally up to 363,070.

And the US isn't the only place you can get it - an esitmated 65,000 people will contract the disease each year in Europe.

It's the tick's fault! [Associated Press]

According to the LDA, these ticks' natural habitats are: wooded areas, where woods meet the lawn, tall grass, under plants and at the bottom of stone walls and under woodpiles.

So amke sure you wear long trousers and spray on plenty of bug repellent!

What Are The Symptoms?

Lyme disease seems to hit you basically everywhere.

Symptoms include: flu like illness, jaw ache, extreme fatigue, headache, rash, back pain, joint pain, loss of apetite....and lots more.

If the bacteria that causes the illness increases its presence in your brain, you can develop forms of neurodysfunction - responsible for fatigue and malaise, but also associated with trouble processing information and remembering things.

There are a number of tests for Lyme disease but none will give you a complete and definitive diagnosis, sadly.

The earlier you catch it, though, and seek out treatment, the less likely it is that you will develop chronic Lyme disease.

Developing chronic Lyme disease means that the above symptoms are likely to last or to recurr throughout your life.

If you've ever watched The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, you'll know that ex-supermodel Yolanda Foster has struggled with chronic Lyme disease for years.

And The Treatment?

In the first instance, it is treated with antibiotics. A cycle that lasts two to four weeks is usually recommended.

After that, antibiotics will be used again with repeat symptoms, but there are also lots of different homeopathic suggestions about changes to diet and exercise.

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