If a tick attaches to a mouse, deer, or other animal that is carrying the bacteria called Borrelia, and the tick becomes infected. It may then spread the disease when it attaches itself to you. Tick populations tend to be higher in elevations, in wooded and grassy areas where the creatures they feed on live and roam; including deer, rabbits, birds, lizards, squirrels, mice, and other rodents. They can also be found in urban areas as well as on beaches and coastal areas of the country.

One of the major issues in Saddle River is the large populations of deer and the deer tick that spreads Lyme disease. Every summer we have a few people in the borough that are infected with Lyme disease. These are usually people that walk through the woods and come back home with an embedded tick.

What are the stages of Lyme disease?

There are several phases of Lyme Disease that are important. The first phase is the early localized disease. A characteristic flat red ringed bull’s-eye rash develops in 75% of the people who have been bitten by a tick infected with Lyme. The rash appears days to weeks after the bite and spreads outward. The bull’s-eye rash is called erythema migrans. Some people don’t notice or even remember being bitten by a tick because the tick is too small, or a rash never appeared. Someone with newly acquired Lyme disease can suffer from fatigue, headache, joint and muscle stiffness, and swollen glands.

The second stage of Lyme disease is called early disseminated disease, which means that when you’re not treated and you ignore the skin redness associated with the early localized Lyme disease, the second stage occurs weeks or months after the appearance of the red rash. During this time bacteria affect other parts of the body including the heart, joints, and nervous system.

The third phase is what is called the late disease. Late stage Lyme disease can inflame the heart and lead to heart rhythm disorders and even heart failure. Nervous system problems associated with late disease can include facial paralysis known as Bell’s palsy, meningitis, confusion, and abnormal function of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. We call that peripheral neuropathy. Joint inflammation can certainly occur in just one or a few joints; most often the knees, resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling. The arthritis associated with Lyme disease can become chronic and may mimic other forms of inflammatory arthritis.

The nose and smell are extremely important to good health. They are often signs of health problems. This has particular importance to Covid19 and the influenza virus. Symptoms usually appear quickly and include fever, aches, and chills regarding the flu. Fever aches, and loss of smell and taste are typical of Covid19 infections. About the flu, antiviral treatments can shorten your illness by one to two days; a disease that can exist anywhere between a few days and two weeks. Covid19 on the other hand can be with you for many weeks and months. We can discuss this further in the month of December when doctors will be busy establishing the difference between the two infections.

Why do I get bloody noses all the time?

Parched air draws moisture from your sinuses, so they’re more likely to dry and crack. Bacteria can get in and infect the damaged area if that happens, and both conditions—dryness and infected cracks-- can cause bleeding. Use of a humidifier to put moisture back into the air will help your dry nose and prevent bleeding.

The causes of bloody noses range from allergies, hemophilia, and picking your nose to blood thinners, aspirin, nasal sprays, and more things than I can list here. The bleeding itself isn’t usually serious but if you injure your nose and it bleeds for more than 30 minutes, or you can’t breathe properly you should see a doctor. I’m amazed at the number of people that call 911 and ask for an ambulance because their nose is bleeding. Just go to the ER or call your doctor.

What are nasal polyps?

Nasal polyps are usually growths within your nose that are usually harmless. But they can prevent smells from getting to the right cells. Medication or minor surgery can get rid of polyps and make things as good as new for your nose.

Besides covered 19 what are some of the other things that can cause a lack of the sense of smell?

There is a link to smell in a variety of diseases, but one most common link is diabetes. High blood sugar can damage nerves, blood vessels, or organs that make up the complex sense of smell. Diabetes can also upset your endocrine system, the system that deals totally with the glands of your body. If loss of smell is one of your issues you should see a doctor.

Is there such a thing as a brain freeze?

People often say that there are such things as “ice cream headaches” and they call it brain freeze. When it happens something cold touches the nerves in the roots of your mouth. That triggers the blood vessels in the front of your head to swell. This rapid swelling causes the familiar jabbing pain of a brain freeze. An easy solution? Try eating ice cream or other cold foods slowly to avoid getting a headache. I suppose the same kind of brain freeze would happen if you drank a very cold drink with lots of ice like a Slurpee.

It’s interesting that a few cups of coffee per day may slow down the deadly progression of advanced colon cancer. So says new research. Over 1200 patients were studied who drank four or more cups of coffee on a daily basis. They were found to have 36% higher odds of surviving cancer spread during a 13-year study period. Cancer metastases or spread is quite a problem and a few lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise have been associated with prolonged lifespan for those people dealing with metastatic cancer. The study quoted by Dr. Christopher McIntosh, a student at the Mayo Clinic school of medicine in Phoenix, found that his study patients treated with chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancers who also drank coffee, experienced a longer period of time where both cancer spread and time to death were prolonged. The researchers found that the more coffee consumed the greater the survival benefit. Researchers found that patients who consumed a single cup of coffee per day survived 30 months after their diagnosis, but those who drank two or 3 cups daily survived 32 months. And those who consume four or more cups a day saw their survival shoot up to 39 months. This would indicate that coffee slows cancer progression say the investigators. The interesting thing about this study is that it did not matter whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated, the coffee tended to work regardless. (JAMA Oncology)

What are some other bad habits that affect our brains?

There are many bad habits that affect our brains. One particularly bad habit which is now causing major problems during the COVID19 pandemic is social isolation. Humans need contact to survive and thrive and it’s extremely important for brain function. Because of the pandemic many are socially isolated, and loneliness is a risk factor for poor cognitive performance, depression, and faster decline of brain function. People who have friends, really close friends, are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and brain decline. If you want to meet new people and you try to take up social hobbies it helps. But during the pandemic of COVID19, dancing, tennis, and bridge are examples of activities with which we cannot participate due to the need for social isolation.

Another bad habit is eating a lot of junk food. Neuroscientists have studied certain foods that promote brain health and avoid other foods that cause a decrease of brain function. To improve your brain’s health, limit your intake of cheese, butter, margarine, and fried and fast food to no more than once a week. Red meat is said to promote inflammation. The MIND diet study determined that you should eat fewer than four servings of red meat per week. Sugars and pastries are not good for you either and so those servings should be significantly limited. Of course, we all hear that eating leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and berries rich in antioxidants and beneficial fats protect your brain. This is important.

It is important to know how valuable sleep is for the body’s normal functions. In the old days people thought that when you slept your brain and body were inactive. That is not the case, because of today’s research. All night your body and brain do a lot of work that’s important for your health. There are two main types of sleep that we cycle in and out of when we rest, something called rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep.

When you lay down in bed you begin the night in non-REM sleep and spend most of your resting time there. It starts very light in what’s called the N 1 stage and gradually moves to the deep N 3 stage. When this happens, your brain becomes less responsive to the outside world and it gets harder to wake you up. Your thoughts and most body functions slow down, and you spend about half of the normal night’s sleep in what is called the N 2 phase, when scientists think you file away long-term memories.

How did sleep become to be called REM?

This stage of sleep is named REM because of the way your eyes dart back and forth between your eyelids. You dream most in this stage. Your pulse, body temperature, breathing, and blood pressure rise to daytime levels. Your nervous system, specifically the sympathetic system which helps with automatic responses like fight or flight, becomes very active. And despite all that your body lies very still. An average person goes through all of the stages 3 to 5 times a night. The first REM stage maybe just a few minutes, but it gets longer with each new cycle up to about ½ an hour. The N3 stage on the other hand tends to get shorter with each new cycle, and if you lose REM sleep for whatever reason your body will try to make it up the next night.