gardenphyllisophyBy Phyllis Galowitz

When it’s time to start working in the garden there are a few important things to keep in mind concerning your health. One of the most important is to drink plenty of water. Keep a bottle with your gardening tools and take frequent sips to keep from getting dehydrated, especially when the temperature rises. The body is made up of 75% water. When the percentage of water is depleted, due to perspiration, heat exhaustion or strenuous exercise, you may experience some signs of dehydration, such as: heart palpitations, muscle cramps, nausea, dryness of eyes and mouth, confusion and weakness due to improper blood circulation to the brain and other organs. It’s a good idea to drink a full glass of water before starting any strenuous exercise, and gardening can be strenuous.

Another worry that seems to be getting more prevalent in this area is Lyme disease. Lyme disease is an infection that is transmitted through the bite of a tiny deer tick infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks typically get the bacterium by biting infected animals, like deer and mice. Most people who get tick bites do not get Lyme disease. Not all ticks are infected, but the risk is greatest the longer the ticks are attached to the body. It is important to cover yourself from head to toe and apply an insect repellant containing DEET directly to exposed skin. When coming in from outdoors, inspect your whole body for ticks and wash the skin and scalp to remove any ticks that are loosely attached. If you see a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers and grasp it close to your skin and slowly pull it straight up, without twisting it. Wash the site with soap and warm water.Picture16

The symptoms of Lyme disease are: Within 1-4 weeks of having been bitten by an infected tick, most people will show a circular, expanding rash at the site (photo) and may experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, headaches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, joint pain and muscle aches. As the infection spreads, the rash can expand to more areas of the body, affecting the joints, heart and nervous system and do terrible damage to the rest of the body. However, it’s important to note that although a tick can infect pets, pets cannot transmit the disease to humans. Only infected ticks that bite can give you Lyme disease. Doctors can diagnose the disease with a blood test and other tests 3-4 weeks after a suspected contact and most Lyme disease is curable with antibiotics if the infection is diagnosed and treated early. Currently, there is no human vaccine for Lyme disease. *

I don’t mean to spoil your love of gardening. I only want to remind you to take a few simple precautions so that you can enjoy every minute in the garden. ~

*WebMD, May 16, 2012