Breast Implant Illness: What We Know So Far

The choice to get breast implants is highly personal, and most women don’t make the decision lightly. Whether it’s cosmetic or reconstructive, implant surgery is a major procedure, with important health implications. Women who have implants, and women considering the surgery, should be aware of the possible side effects and arm themselves with science-backed information.

Researchers and practitioners are signaling a rise in what is now being referred to as Breast Implant Illness (BII) – a potential complication of silicone breast implants. Unfortunately, the symptoms are quite diverse, and most medical practitioners don’t always connect the dots to breast implants as a possible cause.

Signs and Symptoms of BII

The medical community does not yet fully understand BII, and it can be difficult to diagnose in traditional medical practices.

The hallmark signs include a cluster of symptoms such as joint pain, unexplained fatigue, and memory loss. These symptoms are similar to many autoimmune disorders, but not all women who show signs of BII are diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. That’s one factor that makes BII difficult to confirm. Many autoimmune disorders are difficult enough to diagnose on their own, and BII symptoms don’t follow clear patterns. Women can experience a mix of symptoms that could be due to disorders such as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, or lupus.

More symptoms of BII may include:

● Muscle pain
● Headaches
● Hair loss
● Sleep problems
● Vertigo
● Dry skin
● Anxiety
● Depression
● Cognitive impairment (“fuzzy thinking”)
● Dry eyes

These symptoms may be linked to many health problems, and even simply everyday stress. As a result, healthcare practitioners may not make the link between implants and a patient’s concerns, and instead treat each symptom separately.

What causes BII?

More research needs to be done on the link between autoimmune disorders and silicone breast implants, but current findings suggest silicone leaks from the implants to trigger an inflammatory response in the body.
Silicone implants are most likely to rupture after about six to eight years, and ruptures aren’t always noticed. Women who have previous autoimmune disorders, or a family history of them, seem to be more prone to developing BII.

Treatments for BII

Removing silicone implants and any surrounding scar tissue results in an improvement for between 60 to 80 percent of women with BII. Women experiencing symptoms of BII could consult with their healthcare provider about alternatives, such as autologous implants (implants composed of a woman’s own bodily tissue) following a mastectomy. BII has appeared in women with saline implants, but it appears to be much less common. Also, because a saline implant “deflates” faster than a silicone one, a rupture is more noticeable and therefore more likely to be addressed right away.

Lifestyle changes that reduce inflammation can help improve outcomes after implant removal. Reducing stress, following a natural-foods diet, and avoiding triggers like alcohol and excess sugar are all suggested following removal of the implant.

A Link to Autoimmune Disorders

More research needs to be done with regards to the link between specific autoimmune disorders and breast implants. However, initial findings do suggest a possible link. One study found that up to 26 percent of women with implants develop an autoimmune disorder. Other women, however, experience many of the symptoms without a formal diagnosis, and researchers haven’t confirmed that the implants cause the disorders or the symptoms. Nonetheless, a woman with silicone implants is eight times more likely to be diagnosed with Sjögren syndrome and six times more likely to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Many women have compelling reasons to have breast implant surgery, but it’s important to be armed with information on possible complications. It’s also important before you undergo any surgery to enhance your immune system for faster recovery.

Need help or have questions? Give us a call, we are always here to help. 416-234-1888.

References:

Cohen Tervaert JW, Colaris MJ, van der Hulst RR. Silicone breast implants and autoimmune rheumatic diseases: myth or reality. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2017 Jul;29(4):348-354. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000391. PMID: 28379860.

Abdulla Watad, Vered Rosenberg, Shmuel Tiosano, Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, Yarden Yavne, Yehuda Shoenfeld, Varda Shalev, Gabriel Chodick, Howard Amital, Silicone breast implants and the risk of autoimmune/rheumatic disorders: a real-world analysis, International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 47, Issue 6, December 2018, Pages 1846–1854, https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyy217

Hillard C, Fowler JD, Barta R, Cunningham B. Silicone breast implant rupture: a review. Gland Surg. 2017;6(2):163-168. doi:10.21037/gs.2016.09.12

Coroneos, Christopher J. MD, MSc; Selber, Jesse C. MD, MPH; Offodile, Anaeze C. II MD, MPH; Butler, Charles E. MD; Clemens, Mark W. MD US FDA Breast Implant Postapproval Studies, Annals of Surgery: January 2019 – Volume 269 – Issue 1 – p 30-36 doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002990

These 10 Common Symptoms May Mean Your Hormones Are Out of Balance

Hormones affect every aspect of your wellbeing, from your appetite to your zest for life. Despite their large impact on overall health, hormonal imbalances can be frustratingly difficult to recognize. That’s partly because our hormones must maintain a delicate balance and even a slight shift can have negative repercussions.

Key Players in Hormone Balance

Think of your hormones as messengers delivering instructions to the rest of your body in order to regulate many things, including mood, appetite, stress levels, metabolism, sleep, sexual functions, blood sugar and more!

Many organs are involved in maintaining hormone balance. The hypothalamus, a small region in your brain, sends signals to your endocrine system, which controls the secretion of hormones. The endocrine system contains the adrenals, hypothalamus, ovaries, testes, parathyroid, pineal and pituitary glands.

When these glands receive a signal from the hypothalamus, they react by releasing hormones. For example, if your brain perceives a threat, your hypothalamus tells your adrenal and pituitary glands to secrete the “stress hormones” adrenaline and cortisol. This dynamic is sometimes called the HPA axis and it has far-reaching effects on your body. Those hormones tell your heart to speed up, your muscles to tense, your breathing to quicken, and your liver to release more glucose for extra energy. Those responses likely served us well way back in history, when we were more likely to be under an actual attack, because they primed our “flight or fight” response. Today, however, stress is often more chronic, and we’re not typically able to flee or fight the stressors. Instead, the long-term effects continue to take a toll.

Who Is at Risk and Why?

We all experience some hormonal imbalances over the course of a lifetime, but certain developmental stages raise the risk. Puberty is one obvious stage when hormones are sometimes wildly out of balance because the ovaries and testes receive signals to start producing more hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and growth hormone. Middle age ushers in a new era of hormonal changes. For women, the production of estrogen starts to slow with the transition to menopause. For many women, however, this isn’t a smooth decrease in hormone production, but rather, something that occurs in fits and starts, which can make symptoms harder to manage.

Men aren’t immune from midlife hormone imbalances. Around the age of 40, men’s level of androgens (“male” hormones like testosterone) starts to decline by about one percent a year.

Outside of age-related hormonal changes, other factors can lead to hormone imbalance, including stress, disordered eating, nutritional deficiencies, medication, exposure to toxins, birth control pills, and many medical conditions.

Top 10 Signs of Hormone Imbalance

1- Bad PMS
Wild mood swings. Unexplained sadness. Disabling irritability. Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, isn’t much fun, and hormones are to blame. PMS is caused by the drop in estrogen and progesterone that occurs in the second half of the menstrual cycle. Low estrogen and progesterone levels can lead to a decrease in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in mood stabilization.

2 – Mood swings
Many hormones influence our moods, including norepinephrine and epinephrine, testosterone, and oxytocin, so it is not surprising that fluctuating hormones can lead to an emotional rollercoaster, for all genders.

3 – Fatigue
Hormones play an important role in energy levels, so an imbalance often leads to unexplained fatigue. A decrease in thyroid hormone in particular can lead to extreme tiredness. And decreases in another hormone, progesterone, can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

4 – Low sex drive
Lower levels of estrogen in women and testosterone in men often lead to a loss of libido.

5 – Irregular periods
Low levels of estrogen and difficulties with thyroid hormone levels can lead to periods that don’t follow a regular 28-day cycle. As women enter the perimenopause stage, this often becomes more pronounced, and the timing of their periods becomes difficult to predict.

6 – Weight fluctuations
Anyone who struggles to control their weight, despite conscientious exercise and careful calorie control, should have their hormone levels checked. The impact of hormones on weight is complex, and can involve ghrelin, cortisol, insulin, thyroid hormone, and leptin. Imbalances with just one of these can easily derail weight-control.

7 – Food cravings
Studies (and plenty of anecdotal evidence) suggest that hormonal fluctuations, particularly those tied to the menstrual cycle, lead to cravings for sweet and high-carb foods. Stress hormones can also play a role, as they send signals to your body that it needs more energy to fight the perceived stress. The “pleasure” hormones like dopamine can also contribute, as your body seeks to repeat the temporary feelings of satisfaction from eating certain foods.

8 – Brain fog
That feeling of not being able to think clearly can be influenced by many hormones, including cortisol, insulin, estrogen and testosterone.

9 – Headaches
For women, low levels of estrogen can lead to an increase in headaches. Imbalances in other hormones, such as cortisol and thyroid hormone, can also contribute.

10 – Sleep problems
Disruptions in levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin lead to issues with your circadian rhythm, but other hormones also play a role in a good night of sleep.

Restoring Balance

As you can see from the above list, hormonal imbalances can lead to many health issues. It’s important to note their connectivity: Hormones influence each other in a complex chain. For example, a disruption in melatonin levels can lead to less sleep. In turn, not getting enough sleep can inhibit testosterone production, even in young men. It’s all connected!

These intertwined relationships point to the importance of taking a holistic approach to hormonal balance. Here are just some proven strategies that we use in our practice:

Maintain a healthy body weight.

Yes, this can feel like a Catch-22 when your hormones aren’t cooperating. Focus on whole, natural foods, centered around organic produce and high-quality protein sources, healthy fats, and whole grains. Avoid drastically reducing calories, as that can be counterproductive. Eliminate, or reduce, alcohol and caffeine, and processed foods.

Practice stress reduction.

Stress reduction helps stabilize hormones by minimizing the flight or fight response and its impact on hormones. Studies point to the success of meditation and other stress-reduction activities such as yoga or tai chi.

Incorporate exercise into your life.

Even simple walking can regulate hormone levels. Work with a knowledgeable professional to figure out what’s the best approach for you.

Minimize the use of hormone disruptors.

We’re growing increasingly aware of the impact of certain chemicals on our hormones. Some chemicals, for example, “mimic” certain hormones, which confuses the body’s response. Others change the way we process hormones, or change our sensitivity to them. These chemicals can be found in pesticides, many kinds of packaging, household cleaners, cosmetics and toiletry items, and more. It all points to the importance of becoming an informed consumer.

Investigate natural supplements.

More research needs to be done on the effectiveness of natural supplements to balance hormones, but historically, people have turned to supplements such as ginseng, black cohosh, evening primrose oil, and red clover.

Get tested and get balanced.

Your hormones have a profound impact on your health. Maintaining balanced hormone levels is one of the most important things you can do to enjoy a healthy life. If you’d like more information on testing and a tailored health plan to gain control of your hormones, reach out to us – we may be able to help!

References:

Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA. 2011;305(21):2173-2174. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.7109/

Bae, J., Park, S. & Kwon, JW. Factors associated with menstrual cycle irregularity and menopause. BMC Women’s Health 18, 36 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-018-0528-

Schwarz NA, Rigby BR, La Bounty P, Shelmadine B, Bowden RG. A review of weight control strategies and their effects on the regulation of hormonal balance. J Nutr Metab. 2011;2011:237932. doi:10.1155/2011/237932

Benton D, Young HA. Reducing Calorie Intake May Not Help You Lose Body Weight. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2017;12(5):703-714. doi:10.1177/1745691617690878

Sudsuang R, Chentanez V, Veluvan K. Effect of Buddhist meditation on serum cortisol and total protein levels, blood pressure, pulse rate, lung volume and reaction time. Physiol Behav. 1991 Sep;50(3):543-8. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(91)90543-w. PMID: 1801007.

Menstrual cycle hormones, food intake, and cravingsSridevi Krishnan, Rebecca Tryon, Lucas C Welch, William F Horn, Nancy L KeimFirst published: 01 April 2016 https://doi.org/10.1096/fasebj.30.1_supplement.418.6

Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Bourguignon JP, Giudice LC, et al. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. Endocr Rev. 2009;30(4):293-342. doi:10.1210/er.2009-0002

Mail-Based Intervention for Sarcopenia Prevention Increased Anabolic Hormone and Skeletal Muscle Mass in Community-Dwelling Japanese Older Adults: The INE (Intervention by Nutrition and Exercise) Study, Minoru Yamada 1, Shu Nishiguchi 2, Naoto Fukutani 2, Tomoki Aoyama 2, Hidenori Arai DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2015.02.017

What is a Blood Sugar Imbalance Doing to Your Health?

Are you noticing more stubborn belly fat? Experiencing wild sugar cravings? Constant fatigue and sudden crashes in energy? It could be because of a blood sugar imbalance!

Our dietary choices and lifestyle practices play a huge role in either maintaining balance or spiking blood sugar levels. The number of people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes is also rising rapidly in North America and it’s something we see in our practice more often than we’d like!

How Does Blood Sugar Fluctuate?

Carbohydrates we eat are broken down by the body into sugar, or glucose. This sugar is then absorbed into the bloodstream (blood sugar) to be used for energy. This process is regulated by the hormone insulin, which is released by the pancreas. Any excess blood sugar unused by the body for energy is stored in your liver.

It’s all smoothly orchestrated so that you have energy when you need it – as long as your insulin levels are properly balanced! But what if they’re not? That’s when we encounter blood sugar dysregulation and diabetes.

Signs Your Body is Crying for Help

A blood sugar imbalance can result in a list of symptoms that are often easy to blame on stress or aging. These include:

Excess belly fat: When your body senses high glucose levels, it secretes more insulin in an attempt to trigger your cells to absorb the excess glucose. Insulin also encourages fat storage, especially around the belly. Unfortunately, this can create a vicious cycle, since belly fat increases insulin resistance, so your pancreas then responds by releasing even more insulin.

Mood changes: Do you regularly “crash” after a carb-heavy meal? Or do you feel shaky, irritable or “hangry” when you haven’t eaten in a while? Mood swings, including bursts of manic energy followed by rapidly depleted energy, are often in response to fluctuations in blood sugar and a diet that is rapidly spiking blood sugar.

Cravings: Another frustrating irony is that excess blood sugar leads to cravings for more carb-heavy and sugary foods, further adding to the cycle of insulin production. This tells us that not only are blood sugar levels imbalanced but there may be an underlying gut issue as well.

Difficulty concentrating: Without the energy supplied by glucose, your brain cells don’t function optimally. As a result, concentration and focus suffer – but eating something that causes glucose levels to spike isn’t the solution, since you’ll be headed for a crash.

Thyroid trouble: The link between insulin and thyroid health is complex. Excess insulin can harm the thyroid. At the same time, a healthy thyroid helps control insulin.

Female hormone imbalance: Healthy female hormones depend upon balanced blood sugar. In short, excess insulin produces increased amounts of testosterone and belly fat tissue converts excess testosterone into estrogen. This produces increased estrogen in the body which results in too little progesterone. Since progesterone is a calming hormone, too little of it means women often experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, fertility issues, and more.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

People with diabetes experience problems with the production of insulin and the subsequent rise in their blood sugar.

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition which prevents the pancreas from producing adequate amounts of insulin, resulting in low blood sugar levels which need to be monitored closely.

Type 2 diabetes is considered to be a “lifestyle disease”. After several years of imbalanced blood sugar levels, the body develops insulin resistance where cells don’t respond well to the insulin being released.

How to Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels for Optimal Health

As mentioned, blood sugar dysregulation and type 2 diabetes is very much a lifestyle disease and certain lifestyle factors can greatly impact how well your body manages blood sugar levels. Here are our top tips for managing blood sugar for optimal health.

Avoid Spiking Blood Sugar with a Balanced Diet

The most important step for stabilizing blood sugar is to avoid food and eating patterns that can lead to a sudden spike in blood sugar. Different types of carbohydrates are digested and absorbed at different rates, based on a number of factors, including fat and fiber content, and the type of sugar the food contains.

Fiber slows the absorption of glucose, so including foods with high fiber content with meals helps stabilize blood sugar. Soluble fiber, which is found in foods like oats, citrus and many berries, is the most effective. Similarly, including protein with each meal helps slow down blood sugar spikes.

The glycemic index (GI) was developed to measure food’s impact on blood sugar. The higher the food is found on the index the faster it spikes blood sugar, while the foods found on the lower end of the glycemic index are more slowly digested and absorbed. Note that the glycemic index only applies to foods that contain carbohydrates.

A number of studies have found that following a low glycemic diet can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Following a low glycemic diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Along with including fiber and protein in each meal, it’s simply a matter of swapping a high-GI food for a lower-GI choice.

Be Mindful of Your Beverages

The drinks we consume have a big impact on blood sugar. That’s because drinks are easily digested, resulting in a quick shot of glucose. One study found that people who drink at least one sweet drink a day have a 26 percent higher chance of developing diabetes!

Choosing an alternative isn’t always straightforward, however. Be careful with artificially sweetened drinks, as studies have linked some artificial sweeteners with an increased risk of diabetes.

Fruit juices should also be limited because of its high natural sugar content — the glycemic index for fruit juice is very high, because it lacks the fiber found in fruit.
Instead, blend up whole fruit so that you get the fiber content, and be sure to add a source of protein and fat like nut butter or avocado.

Water is always a good beverage choice for managing blood sugar, since it’s important to stay hydrated so you can eliminate excess glucose through urination. Plus, when your body is aware of extra glucose, it pulls water from the rest of your body, increasing your risk of dehydration.

A Variety of Exercise and Good Sleep

Exercise helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and making your muscles more efficient in their absorption of glucose that it needs for energy. Studies suggest high-intensity interval training is the most effective, but many people find it difficult to keep up that level of intensity on a regular basis. A combination of a form of cardio that you can maintain over the long haul, plus resistance training, is an excellent and sustainable approach.

Getting enough sleep is important to stabilize blood sugar, since regular sleep helps maintain hormonal balance and a healthy weight. Frustratingly, high blood sugar can interfere with getting restful sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene, including sleeping in a cool, dark room and limiting drinks of any kind before bedtime.

Helpful Supplements

Herbal supplements can also complement other treatments for blood sugar management. Cinnamon is particularly promising – plus, it has the added benefit of adding a bit of sweetness without sugar. Ginger is another supplement that is easy to incorporate into your diet. Other promising supplements include ginseng, probiotics, and aloe vera.
Always work with a healthcare practitioner, since many factors must be considered to determine the best form of supplementation.

The complications of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes are serious, and can include heart and nerve damage, kidney disease, and eye damage. Take steps now to understand and control your blood sugar levels – your body will thank you! Contact us to learn more.

References:

Stanhope KL. Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2016;53(1):52-67. doi: 10.3109/10408363.2015.1084990. Epub 2015 Sep 17. PMID: 26376619; PMCID: PMC4822166.

Adams OP. The impact of brief high-intensity exercise on blood glucose levels. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2013;6:113-122. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S29222

Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, Fernhall B, et al. Exercise and type 2 diabetes: the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(12):e147-e167. doi:10.2337/dc10-9990
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Chen C, Zeng Y, Xu J, et al. Therapeutic effects of soluble dietary fiber consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitus. Exp Ther Med. 2016;12(2):1232-1242. doi:10.3892/etm.2016.3377

Vega-López S, Venn BJ, Slavin JL. Relevance of the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for Body Weight, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1361. Published 2018 Sep 22. doi:10.3390/nu10101361

Bhupathiraju SN, Tobias DK, Malik VS, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from 3 large US cohorts and an updated meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(1):218-232. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.079533

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes, A meta-analysis Vasanti S. Malik, SCD, Barry M. Popkin, PHD, George A. Bray, MD,, Jean-Pierre Després, PHD, Walter C. Willett, MD, DRPH, and Frank B. Hu, MD, PHD, Diabetes Care 2010 Nov; 33(11): 2477-2483. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc10-1079

The InterAct consortium. Consumption of sweet beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in European adults: results from EPIC-InterAct. Diabetologia 56, 1520–1530 (2013).
Cinnamon Use in Type 2 Diabetes: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-AnalysisRobert W. Allen, Emmanuelle Schwartzman, William L. Baker, Craig I. Coleman and Olivia J. Phung, The Annals of Family Medicine September 2013, 11 (5) 452-459; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1370/afm.1517
James W. Daily, Mini Yang, Da Sol Kim, Sunmin Park, Efficacy of ginger for treating Type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials,
Journal of Ethnic Foods, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2015, Pages 36-43, ISSN 2352-6181,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jef.2015.02.007.

Ticks and Lyme Disease: What you need to know!

The warmer weather encourages everyone to get outside and enjoy the sun on their face but there is one creature who is waiting in the wings to greet us and our pets…the tick. Few pests inspire the level of paranoia and anxiety as ticks. They are small, making it difficult to feel them crawling on you and if not discovered quickly they latch onto your skin and suck your blood. Even worse…they also transmit diseases!

Thankfully, there are ways to minimize your contact with these pesky pests and natural repellents to ward them off.

When & Where Ticks Are Most Active

Ticks are found across all of North America and can be active year-round especially in areas with mild winters. However, they are most active in the spring and summer months and often well into the fall (April-September) as they prefer warm humid temperatures.

Although most common in wooded and tall grassy areas, ticks can also be found in your own backyard as they hitch rides on migrating birds in the spring making their way into city landscapes. However, you can breathe a small sigh of relief knowing that only a few of the 700 known species are found to bite and transmit diseases to humans.

Signs & Symptoms of a Tick Bite

Ticks can carry a host of pathogens that can cause human disease. Lyme disease is the most well-known, however ticks can also carry STARI (Southern tick-associated rash illness), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), and more.

Should you discover a tick attached to you, remove it immediately and if possible save the tick in a sealable plastic bag and store it in the freezer. This will preserve the tick and allow you to present it to your physician should you develop symptoms at a later date.

A small bump or redness at the site of a tick bite that occurs immediately and resembles a mosquito bite is common. This irritation generally goes away in 1-2 days and is not a sign of Lyme disease or STARI.

Should you be bitten or suspect you have been bitten by a tick, the following are signs and symptoms to watch for.

● Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash
● Rash
● The area may feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
● The rash sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor or health physician and inform them that you suspect you have been bitten by a tick.

What to Expect if You Have Been Bitten by a Possible Lyme Disease Carrying Tick

Although not every bite from a tick transmits this infection, bites should be evaluated carefully since early detection and appropriate treatment are critical in effectively treating Lyme disease and preventing the potentially serious medical complications caused by this infection.

Blacklegged ticks are hard ticks identifiable by their black legs, red-orange body, and black scutum, which looks like a dot on the upper half of its shield. Should you be bitten by this tick or any other tick and develop symptoms, your physician will perform a blood test to look for antibodies associated with Lyme disease.

Untreated Lyme disease can cause:

● Chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis), particularly of the knee
● Neurological symptoms, such as facial palsy and neuropathy
● Cognitive defects, such as impaired memory
● Heart rhythm irregularities

Antibodies can take weeks to develop after a bite and can persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone, however, not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease so it is vital to watch for any signs or symptoms of illness such as flu-like symptoms (chills, headaches, fever, fatigue), redness and swelling around the bite, a bulls eye rash, muscle and joint aches – consult your physician immediately should they appear.

Treatments for Lyme Disease

The most common treatment for Lyme disease is a course of antibiotics, however, you can support your recovery with the addition of natural supplements and foods that may boost the immune system.

Immune Supportive Foods:

● Garlic – contains compounds, like allicin, that the body can metabolically transform to antioxidants
● Spinach – high in both Vitamin C, zinc, and is a good source of fibre which supports gut health
● Fish – salmon and other fatty fish contain high level of Omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in Vitamin E and astaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant)
● Berries – excellent source of antioxidants to help boost immune health
● Selenium-rich foods – tuna, halibut, sardines, turkey, chicken, or cottage cheese
● Vitamin C-rich foods – bell peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, mango, and citrus fruits
● Vitamin E-rich foods – including almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds

It is important to consume a fibre rich diet to ensure optimal gut health as approximately 70% of our immune system is in our gut. This allows your body to absorb the nutrient rich food you are consuming and allows for proper extraction which is your body’s natural detoxifier.

Try to avoid foods high in sugar, processed foods, foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids/hydrogenated fats, and any foods that cause you to feel unwell. This may also include allergen promoting foods such as gluten, dairy, nuts, etc.

To develop your individualized nutritional plan, contact us today!

Before and After You Go Outdoors

Before heading outside, there are four simple precautions and preventative measures you can take to protect yourself from ticks in your area.

Avoid areas where ticks are likely to hang out.

Ticks do not jump or fly, they simply hang out on a branch or long piece of vegetation waiting for a host to walk by. When walking or hiking in wooded areas, stick to the middle of the path to avoid brushing against long grasses. Avoid leaf litter and heavily bushed areas and when participating in outdoor activities such as picnics and sports, try to choose areas with lots of sunshine and low-cut grass.

Dress appropriately in bushy areas.

Wear light-coloured clothing such as long pants tucked into your socks and a long-sleeved shirt. This will allow you to see the darker-coloured ticks on your clothing before it makes its way to your skin. You may also choose to wear a hat and boots to ensure most of your skin is fully covered.

Use repellents on your skin and clothing.

Deet has long been used as a tick repellent along with Permethrin, however, both can be toxic to humans and pets so you may want to choose from the natural repellents listed below.

● 2-undecanone, which comes from the leaves and stems of wild tomato plants, bananas, cloves, ginger, guava, strawberries, and the perennial leaf vegetable Houttuynia cordata. 2-undecanone comes in both synthetic and natural forms and can be used on both skin and clothing.
● Essential Oils from rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, peppermint, clove bud, thyme, neem seed, blue tansy, and geraniol. Essential oils can be used directly on the skin, and it is recommended to try a mixture of different oils to find which work best for you.

After returning from outside, inspect both yourself and your pets for any ticks that may still be looking for a free meal. Remove and wash all clothing followed by a cycle in a hot clothes dryer.

Stay Informed

The best way to enjoy your time outdoors is to use the above precautions and to stay informed on the level of tick-borne illness, populations in your area, and the types of ticks in your zone so that you can avoid heavily infested areas.

The following apps are available for public use to help track and identify ticks that may be present where you live.

● e-Tick: A public platform for image-based identification and population monitoring of ticks in Canada
● The Tick App – Your on-the-go tick expert monitoring tick populations within the USA.

Although ticks can strike fear in the most courageous of people, you can still enjoy the outdoors safely all year long by being prepared, avoiding long grass, heavily wooded areas, and leaf debris, and by being diligent on checking for ticks after your time outside.

If you have any questions about ticks, tick bites or Lyme disease, we are here to help – give us a call!

References:

Jordan RA, et al. (2012). Efficacy of plant-derived and synthetic compounds on clothing as repellents against Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) [Abstract]

Christina A. Nelson, Catherine M. Hayes, Molly A. Markowitz, Jacqueline J. Flynn, Alan C. Graham, Mark J. Delorey, Paul S. Mead, Marc C. Dolan, The heat is on: Killing blacklegged ticks in residential washers and dryers to prevent tick borne diseases, Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, Volume 7, Issue 5, 2016, Pages 958-963, ISSN 1877-959X,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD) – Tick Removal – https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD) – Signs and Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease – https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html