‘Ticked Off’: Do you have Lyme disease?

87849470 - closeup of a tick on a finger.Are you dealing with unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, memory loss and mental fogginess, or other unexplained symptoms? The issue could be Lyme disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease? It’s important to know the answer, because left untreated Lyme disease, can cause serious and debilitating illness and disability. Symptoms can mimic those of stroke, painful cases of arthritis, chronic illness, and issues that lead to a loss of proper brain function. But early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk, and preserve your health.

Not sure you’re at risk? Chances are, the possibility you might be exposed is greater than you might expect. According to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control, the incidence of confirmed cases of Lyme disease has climbed dramatically in the last few years. A recent study shows that cases increased more than 80% from 2004-2016, from 19,804 to 36,429.

So, what exactly IS Lyme disease? It’s a cluster of symptoms and illness caused by the transmission of a harmful bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, through the bite of a black-legged or deer tick.

What are the symptoms? Lyme disease can feel like a summer cold or flu, without the respiratory symptoms. A person might feel fatigue, fever, chills, muscle aches, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. Left untreated, symptoms can progress to include:

  • Heart palpitations, or irregular heartbeats;
  • Severe headaches and/or neck stiffness, and sometimes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord;
  • Joint pain and stiffness that feels like severe arthritis, and/or shooting pains;
  • Numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet;
  • Rashes; and
  • Loss of muscle tone or “drooping” on one side of the face.

Even worse, when left untreated Lyme disease can lead to ongoing health issues that can include mental confusion, sleep disturbances, and severe fatigue.

So, how do you know if you’ve been exposed, or if you have Lyme disease? It can be difficult to tell, primarily because sometimes the first symptoms may show up weeks after you (or your pet) have been bitten. Moreover, ticks can be the size of a poppy seed — which makes them really hard to spot.

If you do develop symptoms, including redness at the bite site that looks like a bullseye, or find a tick on your skin or clothes, you should have your doctor run tests to be sure. Many early cases can be cleared with antibiotics.

How are people exposed? Often people take precautions when they go hiking, camping, hunting, or do other planned outdoor activities. They wear long sleeves, and maybe even bug spray. But experts are finding that most people are exposed to tick bites in their own backyard, while doing yard work, gardening, or just playing outside. Pets are another source of exposure. Often, ticks will hitch a ride on your dog — leaving you vulnerable to bites and transmission of the disease.

Again, it’s possible to contract Lyme disease and not know for months after exposure. It’s worth your health to explore all of the possibilities if you’re experiencing unexplained symptoms.

Be aware, that the accuracy of blood tests can vary based on the timing of your exposure. So, if you haven’t yet developed antibodies in your blood to the infection, the test could come back negative. Ongoing treatment and screening by a trusted medical professional should include follow-ups if you think you’ve been exposed, or may be having symptoms.

For that reason, it’s important to visit medical professionals that take a holistic approach to wellness. Whether or not you find a tick, your doctor should take any symptoms that might be Lyme disease seriously, and offer you follow up screening to rule out the disease and stop further progression when appropriate.

Finally, you can take steps to prevent the illness. While you shouldn’t be afraid to get outdoors, you should certainly take proper common sense precautions. Wear long sleeves and pants, check yourself after spending time outside (even if you’re just out in the backyard) and be sure to keep an eye on your pets.

Also, know your body. Unexplained symptoms should never be ignored. If you are feeling unwell, it’s worth a trip to visit your trusted provider to rule out issues and find holistic solutions.

At Proactive Wellness, we will provide a complete screening and counseling if you think you might have Lyme disease to rule out any issues and prevent a progressive worsening and risk to your long-term health.

Finally, if you have any questions about your health please don’t hesitate to give us a call! Check out our website for more information, as well. We want to partner with you to find solutions that work, and help you to live your most active life.

Do you know the symptoms of mold-related illness?

16311394 - sick woman  flu  woman caught cold  sneezing into tissueAre you having symptoms of illness that you can’t explain? The problem might be related to mold. It’s a common problem. On the milder end of the spectrum, people experience ‘normal’ allergy symptoms related to the season. But in some cases, mold in the home can cause more serious symptoms that can lead to illnesses that can be debilitating.

What are the symptoms of mold-related illness? Read on for a list of the common symptoms experienced by people with a mold sensitivity. Symptoms may include:

  • Repeated respiratory infections and illness. If you have cough that won’t go away, or asthma symptoms, or seem to come down with colds or sinus infections frequently, the problem could be caused by exposure to mold.
  • Headaches, foggy thinking, and mood swings: Mold can trigger symptoms similar to those of chronic inflammation, as the body tries to fight infection and heal itself. This mechanism can lead to cognitive symptoms.
  • Skin issues: Did you know that mold can cause rashes? Exposure can cause redness and rashes that often don’t tip off people that they’re experiencing a mold-related reaction.
  • Dizziness: Mold exposure can, in some cases, cause more serious and confusing symptoms such as dizziness and feelings of vertigo.
  • Vision: Blurry vision, teary or red eyes, and other issues can point to a mold sensitivity and heightened issues that go beyond typical allergy symptoms.

So, what causes mold-related illness? First, it helps to know that mold is often in the air as spores. Most people are healthy enough to breath in a small amount of spores and not experience negative symptoms. But, if you have a sensitivity, are already sick or have a compromised immune system, or are dealing with repeated exposure in a home or other building, then you may be at risk for developing more serious symptoms and illness from mold exposure.

What can you do? We recommend that, if you are concerned about your symptoms, that you visit a doctor and holistic wellness provider that can test you for issues and help you to find appropriate treatment.

If that sounds like the case for you or someone you love, please reach out to us. Visit us online to learn more and feel free to reach out with any questions. We offer holistic wellness solutions and are certified in mold treatment.

The ‘inside story’: are your health issues caused by parasites?

Young couple sharing a digital tablet while relaxing in bedDid you know that parasites are a problem for millions of Americans? According to experts at the Centers for Disease Control, the problem is more common than many people realize. Moreover, many people that pick up a parasite often go undiagnosed, and suffer from illness and symptoms that could be treated or managed.

In fact, it’s a common misconception that parasites are only a problem in underdeveloped or poor countries. Many people (mistakenly) believe that you can’t pick up a parasite if you have access to proper sanitation, running water, and food prepared according to a high quality of safety standards. But, there are still ways to pick up a parasite that might surprise you. What can cause a parasitic infection?

These common risk factors might point to a parasitic infection:

  1. Do you own a cat? What about a cat at a friend’s home, or have you come into contact with a stray? Contact with cat waste, either accidentally or by cleaning a litter box, can expose you to a parasitic infection by Toxoplasmosis. It is estimated that more than 60 million people are chronically infected with toxoplasma gondii. Often, many people don’t hear about the possibility of contracting the parasite until they (or a friend) get pregnant, when an obstetrician orders tests or counsels them to avoid exposure to cat waste.
  2. Do you own a dog? You’re not better off than cat owners. The worms that live in the intestines of dogs (and some cats) carry a parasite called Toxocara. In fact, many Americans have been exposed and carry antibodies in their blood to fight off the infection. But for those that don’t, contracting Toxocara can lead to serious illness and even blindness.
  3. Did you know that some parasites can be contracted through sexual contact? A protozoa called trichomonias is transmitted sexually. It’s a common infection that often is symptomless, but can cause itching and burning, and puts the person at risk of developing additional infections because the body is weakened by trying to keep the parasite at bay.
  4. Eating undercooked meat — or even fruits and vegetables that haven’t been handled properly — can lead to exposure to tapeworms that live in the muscles and brain. Most people know that, but aren’t aware of how common exposure can be.
  5. Have you been hiking or camping lately? What about drinking untreated, unfiltered well or spring water? Contaminated water, taken in while camping or from other untreated sources, can lead to parasitic infections and illness.
  6. Been bitten by a bug lately? It’s well known that mosquitos and ticks can carry illness. But a bug called the triatomine bug can cause an illness called Chagas disease. According to some experts,”[m]ore than 300,000 American are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease, and more than 300 infected babies are born every year.”

So, how do you know if you have a parasitic infection? The symptoms can seem general, and mimmic symptoms of other illnesses. Think fatigue, fever, nausea, heart and respiratory symptoms, headaches, rashes, and itching. Fairly vague, right? That’s why we recommend that if you have unexplained symptoms that aren’t going away, you ask your holistic wellness provider and doctor to run tests for parasitic infection.

How do we test for parasites? The CDC recommends a few different tests. (You can call us to learn more, or visit the CDC page here.) The list of tests includes blood draws, fecal sample testing, and x-rays.

More than one kind of test may be performed by your health care provider. Among other things, the tests will look for antibodies in your blood serum, evidence in fecal samples of the byproducts of parasites, and x-rays will be used to determine if your organs have developed lesions caused by some parasitic infections.

In some cases, a colonoscopy may be done to more thoroughly screen for a parasite. You health care provider will determine which tests to order, and will often send the samples to a qualified lab for analysis.

It’s important to learn more about the issue, because so many Americans go without proper diagnosis and treatment due to a lack of knowledge and the common misconception that parasites are not an issue here in the United States.

If you think you may have unexplained symptoms and would benefit from a screening, either because you have one of the risk factors identified above, or just a long-term issue that has gone unresolved, please be sure to learn more and ask for a test.

You can take control of your health by learning more, and finding natural ways to promote your health, healing and overall wellness. Don’t hesitate to visit our website to learn more, and reach out with any questions.

Don’t get burned: why long-term antacid use isn’t a good option to treat digestive troubles

8588101_SDo you suffer from occasional heartburn, or have a problem with more serious recurring acid reflux? Or, do you have other digestive issues? If you do, and you’re treating any of the above with over the counter antacids, you may be setting yourself up to ‘get burned’ by side effects and the results of masking underlying health issues.

Pain is our body’s way of telling us there’s a problem. In all cases, it pays to notice the signs, symptoms and signals our body is giving us. Over-the-counter antacids aren’t a good solution for solving acid reflux and other digestive issues, because use can mask symptoms that tell us we need to make lifestyle changes and resolve underlying health problems.

Here are some of the known causes of acid reflux:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Taking OTC medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, certain blood pressure medications, or blood thinners
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Eating foods that don’t agree with your body (Some people will experience acid reflux after eating tomatoes, chocolate, spicy or fatty foods, as well as onions and garlic)
  • Pregnancy

In each of these cases, our body is trying to tell us something when we experience acid reflux. Maybe we need to change our diet, and remove foods that the body can’t tolerate. Or, maybe we need to lose weight and make healthier lifestyle choices. Perhaps we need to stop taking medications with side effects that tell us the body is experiencing stress caused by a treatment that’s making the condition worse, and not better. Or, in the worst case, we may have an underlying condition such as hernia that needs treatment and attention.

In all cases, it’s best to look at lifestyle to find the most natural, least invasive way to help the body to heal itself. For that reason, your wellness depends on your willingness to pay attention to your symptoms and find a holistic solution.

Additionally, the risks associated with taking antacids go beyond masking symptoms. The antacids can have side effects that can lead to other health problems. How? Antacids generally work in one of a few ways. You can find antacids that are “proton pump inhibitors,” or PPIs, that lower the amount of acid in the stomach; and there are H2 blockers that work by blocking acid production. Both types come with the risk of side effects.

H2 blockers are known to cause headaches, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. PPIs are known to have similar side effects, plus they interact negatively with other medications. Used long term, these medications have also been linked to memory loss, bone fractures, pneumonia, and heart and kidney problems.

Why? Because tampering with acid production in the stomach and the proper functioning of the digestive system can lead to problems absorbing nutrients from food, and overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal system (or gut). This can start a cycle of illness that prevents healing, poisons the body as the gut ‘leaks’ poisons into the system, and reduces resistance to other illness and infections.

That’s why we don’t recommend that people use antacids such as Nexium, Prilosec, Zantac and Pepcid to tread acid reflux long term. Many health and holistic practitioners are now sounding the alarm about the issues. And we’re not alone. Even the FDA is now issuing warnings about the problems of PPI use, especially on a long-term basis. They recommend limiting use to no more than six weeks. This is a major reversal, since antacids are one of the most popular drugs used by Americans. Doctors wrote 114 million prescriptions for them last year alone.

But why would you spend weeks taking a drug that could cause dementia and cancer, if you don’t have to? Instead, we recommend that you visit a holistic wellness provider. You need to tune in to the symptoms your body is sending, and look to see if you can find natural solutions.

Ready to learn more? We can provide more information on our website, and by speaking with one of our healthcare providers. We can counsel you on healthy eating and lifestyle choices, and use of targeted supplements such as PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) to treat inflammation in the body.

Whatever you do, please take a little time to review all of your options before making a final decision to treat acid reflux and digestive issues in the body, and the conditions they create. You can take control of your health by learning more, and finding natural ways to promote your health, healing and overall wellness. Don’t hesitate to visit our website to learn more, and reach out with any questions.