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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Things to know about ticks and Lyme

Have you ever noticed that you tend to get a lot angrier on the road with other drivers than you do with people in the rest of your life? To a large degree, the experience of road rage is universal, and can be explained by the emotional distance that is created between drivers when there is both physical separation and a high potential for perceived slights and wrongdoing. The relative anonymity of driving leads to an exaggerated emotional response when feeling slighted or threatened, in part because all you may know of the other driver is that he or she just cut you off. It makes sense that you might react more angrily in that situation than if the same interaction occurred in another real-life setting.

Now if you accept the premise that separation and relative anonymity increase the potential for rage, imagine what the anonymity and dehumanization of the Internet does to virtual interactions. It is well documented that online comment sections too often become a hub for threats, heated arguments, and name calling.

Let’s explore why this might happen.

In 2016, FiveThirtyEight.com performed an extensive survey of 8,500 commenters to better understand the nature of their behavior. It found that commenters tended to be younger than 40 and predominantly male. Commenters also stated that they commented primarily in order to correct an error, add to the discussion, give their personal perspectives, and represent their views. Less often, they were trying to be funny, praise content, ask a question to learn, or share their own thoughts. So, we can acknowledge that there is a certain self-selection in the Internet commentary world that will lead to many comments being oppositional, even if most readers do not perceive the article this way.

But why do online commenters so often seem rageful in their opposition?

One explanation begins with the knowledge that the content most likely to elicit impassioned responses is on the very subjects that people feel affect them personally. The majority of Internet commenters know something about the topics being discussed, and often their personal experience does not align with the viewpoint of the author. Put another way, they may feel that this firsthand experience makes them more knowledgeable than the author, while the author may only have theoretical experience or none at all. Because commenters so often identify personally with the topic for this reason, the magnitude of their emotional response can be amplified, sometimes leading to stronger language than they would use in the real world. This is the case even when topics are written by so-called experts. This may be attributed to a principle in psychology known as the “backfire effect” — that is, people often become counterintuitively more entrenched in their position when presented with data that conflicts with their beliefs.

Even when commenters read entire articles, hostile comments are often formed out of defiance rather than ignorance of evidence presented by the author. The Dunning-Kruger effect may be at play here. This principle states that a person’s perception of what they have read and the content they’ve actually read often do not align well. In other words, a person may read an article whose focus is on one area, but become attentionally derailed by a strong emotional response provoked early in the piece. The provocative nature of Internet headlines are in fact designed to elicit such emotional responses in order to gain additional page views. One result is that many readers come away very quickly feeling attacked or misrepresented by information when that was not necessarily the article’s objective or focus. With the inherent anonymity and seclusion of Internet use, it is not hard to see how reasonable online decorum so often fails to hold under such circumstances.

There is little that you as an individual can do about the nature of the Internet, but you can choose how you interact with it. Good mental health around Internet use likely revolves around limiting your use to content arenas that promote your best self by allowing you to be productive and enjoy the time you spend on the web. If sites or posts seem to make you rageful, it may not be worth continuing to engage in this way. This is one aspect of online interactions where you have a lot of control.
Naturally fermented foods are getting a lot of attention from health experts these days because they may help strengthen your gut microbiome—the 100 trillion or so bacteria and microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Researchers are beginning to link these tiny creatures to all sorts of health conditions from obesity to neurodegenerative diseases.

Fermented foods are preserved using an age-old process that not only boosts the food’s shelf life and nutritional value, but can give your body a dose of healthy probiotics, which are live microorganisms crucial to healthy digestion, says Dr. David S. Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Not all fermented foods are created equal

The foods that give your body beneficial probiotics are those fermented using natural processes and containing probiotics. Live cultures are found in not only yogurt and a yogurt-like drink called kefir, but also in Korean pickled vegetables called kimchi, sauerkraut, and in some pickles. The jars of pickles you can buy off the shelf at the supermarket are sometimes pickled using vinegar and not the natural fermentation process using live organisms, which means they don’t contain probiotics. To ensure the fermented foods you choose do contain probiotics, look for the words “naturally fermented” on the label, and when you open the jar look for telltale bubbles in the liquid, which signal that live organisms are inside the jar, says Dr. Ludwig.
Try making your own naturally fermented foods

Below is a recipe from the book Always Delicious by Dr. Ludwig and Dawn Ludwig that can help get you started.

Spicy pickled vegetables (escabeche)

These spicy pickles are reminiscent of the Mediterranean and Latin American culinary technique known as escabeche. This recipe leaves out the sugar. Traditionally, the larger vegetables would be lightly cooked before pickling, but we prefer to use a quick fermentation method and leave the vegetables a bit crisp instead.As the weather gets better and school vacations begin, along with sunburns and water safety there is something else parents need to think about: ticks and Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of the blacklegged tick. While there are cases in various parts of the country, it’s most common in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, as well as around the Great Lakes. The early symptoms of Lyme include fever, body aches, and a bull’s-eye rash. It’s very treatable with antibiotics, but if not caught and left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems.

Here is information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on four things that everyone should know and do:
1.  Prevention is key

As is true with all health problems, preventing them in the first place is always best. Be mindful of where your children play, as brush and tall grasses are where the ticks hang out. As much as possible, try to keep to the center of paths. Use a repellent with DEET (at least 20%), picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin (the Environmental Protection Agency has a great online tool that can help you choose the best insect repellent), and spray clothing (including socks and shoes) and gear like backpacks with permethrin.
2. Do tick checks at the end of every day

Even if your kids were just playing outside in the yard, get in the habit of looking them over. Ticks like warm, moist areas like the armpits, groin, and scalp, so you should particularly check there. Be sure to look carefully, because the blacklegged tick often transmits when it’s in the nymph stage, and nymphs are really tiny.

If you find an attached tick, grab it at the base with a tweezer and pull it upward with steady pressure. You can get rid of a live tick by wrapping it tightly in something or flushing it down the toilet.

Along with checking your human family members, be sure to check pets that have been outside, as they can carry ticks inside with them. You should also check clothing. Anything that isn’t going into the wash can be thrown into the dryer for 10 minutes or so (when washing clothes, be aware that if they aren’t washed in hot water, they may need extra time in the dryer to kill any ticks on them).
3. Be on the lookout for symptoms

If you do tick checks at the end of every day you should be fine, because it takes at least 24 hours — more often 36 to 48 hours — for an infected tick to transmit Lyme. This is a really important point that many people don’t know.

The classic rash of Lyme is an expanding bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite. The rash is present in 70% to 80% of cases. Of course, that means it isn’t present in 20% to 30% of cases, so if someone in your family had a tick on them for more than 24 hours, or if you live in an area where there are many cases of Lyme and there may have been a tick bite, you should call your doctor if the person has a fever, chills, aches and pains for no clear reason, along with swollen lymph nodes or swelling of one or more joints. While having these symptoms doesn’t mean for sure that a person has Lyme, it’s worth getting checked out, as early treatment generally leads to a complete cure.
4. Be a cautious consumer of information when it comes to testing and treatment of Lyme

As with many conditions, there is a lot of misinformation out there about Lyme testing and treatment. It’s important to use laboratories that use evidence-based norms and processes. There are many advertised tests for Lyme disease, but some of them are simply not reliable — and it’s really important to have reliable information when making a diagnosis. It’s also not recommended to do testing for Lyme in someone who does not have clear symptoms of Lyme disease.

Most people recover completely after treatment of Lyme, but there are some people who have chronic symptoms such as fatigue, pain, or joint swelling after Lyme disease. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome or post-Lyme disease syndrome. The cause of these syndromes is unknown. Prolonged use of antibiotics is not recommended. Studies have shown that it doesn’t help, and there can be serious health problems when antibiotics are taken for prolonged periods of time.

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