This is the season for Lyme disease, and one should be careful walking through glens or high weeds with exposed skin. Saddle River’s deer population is huge and the incidence of Lyme could be quite high. You can be bitten by a tick and not know it until a targeted bulls-eye lesion appears on your skin. This lesion is fairly typical and should not be missed, but sadly it is missed in over 60% of cases. Generally, in the early stages after the tick bite with infection there are no symptoms. Blood tests immediatly after a tick bites you are generally negative. It takes a few days to weeks for the tests to become positive. If the rash is typical and/or you present the deer tick to a doctor (which you have just removed from your body) antibiotics can be given empirically until the disease is confirmed.

As I said, about 60% of the time the rash goes unnoticed. This is a problem. Anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks after the bite patients get nausea, flu-like aches, headaches, and overall weakness. These are common complaints so one never thinks of Lyme disease until most of the general tests are exhausted and all normal. The arthritis does not appear for many months, which can alert you and your doctor to the fact that you might have Lyme disease.

The treatment for Lyme disease prevention is usually doxycycline or another antibiotic if you cannot take tetracyclines. The treatment if given early enough will prevent the disease from appearing.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about “chronic Lyme disease” with people being on IV therapy for months and sometimes years. And there are tests for the disease from urine when the blood tests are negative. Caution is warranted, because there are no other definitive tests for Lyme than those approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Communicable Disease Center. If you are uncertain about the diagnosis and need help, call your doctor or our local Board of Health in Saddle River. We track these diseases and would be glad to help you.

Believe it or not, there are significant effects to hugging another person. In a study from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015, people who had great social support in the form of a hug, had fewer colds than a control group. Four hundred and four adults were studied. Dr. Sheldon Cohen who was the lead author of the study concluded that “hugging protects people who are under stress”.

Experts attribute the effects of a hug—usually about a one-minute hug—to the hormone oxytocin, often called the bonding hormone. In Obstetrics we know it as a hormone that bonds a mother with her newborn baby. Made in the center of the brain, it is released into the bloodstream and much of it remains in the brain where it influences moods and behavior.

Having someone hug you before a major event like an exam, a speech, or a trying event like a divorce proceeding, can make you calm and relaxed and better able to handle the stress.

As we age, we sometimes see small threads cruise across our eyes. They are most visible when looking at something that is bright. They can be distracting and annoying, but they usually do not interfere with sight. They are actually strands that come from the vitreous, a gel like substance that keeps the eyeball round. Most people get used to them and short of finding them to be an occasional annoyance, pay no attention to them. They cause no medical conditions.

Graying hair is a big concern for both men and women. After age 30 hair begins to gray 10-20% every decade. The process by which hair grays revolves around the presence or absence of a cell type in the hair shaft.  The pigment is derived from melanin in cells called melanocytes.  These cells are the same cells that produce skin pigment and make us brown or give us olive complexions. When the pigment in the hair shaft dies the hair becomes gray or loses pigment.