SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Tick populations are on the rise, which means Lyme disease is also increasing.
22News spoke with a Wilbraham Lyme disease sufferer about how the disease impacts her life every day.
Cindy Kennedy’s Lyme disease had progressed so much by the time she was finally diagnosed, that antibiotics could no longer fully cure her.
Three hundred thousand people get Lyme disease every year in the United States and Kennedy is one of those people.
She was bitten by a deer tick near her Wilbraham home in 2011. But she wasn’t diagnosed with Lyme disease until 2015.
One of the more obvious symptoms of Lyme disease symptoms is the bullseye rash, but Kennedy never got that mark. Only 25 percent of Lyme disease patients do.
Her symptoms were pain in her forearms and wrists, and extreme fatigue.
“I cannot describe the fatigue,” Kennedy told 22News. “It is nothing like, oh I’m a little tired. It can be debilitating. So I have to know my own limits.”
Kennedy said she could have been cured if she had information about Lyme disease and its symptoms.
Now, she’s planning to launch a podcast next month called “Living with Lyme.” She wants to tell people what to watch for, and how to prevent Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can be very difficult to diagnose and once a patient is diagnosed, treatments can be very complicated and costly.
“There’s specific treatment regimens that should be used for Lyme disease,” Dr. Ira Helfand of the Family Care Medical Center told 22News. “Additional antibiotics beyond those regimens is not indicated, is not helpful, and may be very harmful.”
Once diagnosed, a patient’s immediately put on 21 days of antibiotics, which usually cures the disease.
But, joint pain and fatigue can be chronic, even after a cure. Patients could be on joint pain medication and immune system supplements for the rest of their lives.
Some unlucky patients, like Kennedy, are never able to return to work full-time. It’s easier to prevent Lyme disease than it is to cure it.
So if you feel joint pain and fatigue, or notice a tick attached to you, it’s best to go to the doctor right away.