Primary Care: How to Advocate for Yourself

You’ve discovered you have some of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease. Now what? Turn first to your primary care provider. After all, they know you—hopefully—and they’re usually covered by insurance. 

Unfortunately, many don’t know as much about tick-borne diseases as you might expect. So, we need to learn how to advocate for ourselves. Doctors rely on three things to make a diagnosis: tests, signs and symptoms, and risk of exposure. 

Symptoms to Share with Your Primary Care Provider

In my last blog post, I shared Lyme’s main signs and symptoms. Familiarize yourself with them and be ready to share yours. Here’s a quick overview I created for you:

Three Stages of Lyme Disease: Signs and Symptoms

If you have the classic bull’s-eye rash, doctors can diagnose you with Lyme based on that alone. Remember, though: the rash comes in several different forms. Also, many people with Lyme disease never get—or notice—a rash, which delays their diagnosis.

Before your appointment, have a friend or your spouse search you for ticks and rashes. Popular spots include your chest, head, neck, abdomen, and underwear area. Ticks also like the back of your knee.

Risk of Exposure

Lyme disease cases have been reported in eighty countries. In Europe, Canada, parts of Asia, and the United States, Lyme is endemic. Here, it’s most common in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. 

Lyme Disease Risk by State: Risk of Exposure

If you live in or travel to a high-risk state, you risk exposure. If you also spend a lot of time hiking, doing yard work, or playing in the woods there, your risk is considerable.

Did you find an attached tick on you, your child, or your significant other? Save it and consider sending it in for testing. (Download my free e-book for prevention information plus how to save and test ticks.)

Laboratory Tests

How the Lyme Disease Test Failed Me

Unless you find a rash or an attached tick, both symptoms and your risk of exposure can be rather vague. But blood tests are clearer, right? Not necessarily. Still, they’re an important piece of the puzzle.

Most primary care providers initially order only one Lyme disease test. If it were largely reliable, that would be fine. Sadly, it’s not.

So, which other tests should you ask your primary care provider to order?  Click here to discover!

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