As summer rolls in, most people are happy for the opportunity to get out and about in the sunshine. The dark, cold hours of winter are gone for another year, and with the summer comes long days, warm nights and the opportunity for barbecues, swimming, sunbathing and picnics. However, it’s not all sunshine and smiles; as with any season, there are some health concerns that come along with the summer, not least of all summer fatigue. Unfortunately, the symptoms of this non-severe yet debilitating condition are similar to Lyme disease, which also hits its peak in the summer months. So how exactly can you tell the difference between the two?
First of all, some definitions might be handy. Summer fatigue leaves people feeling tired, lethargic and sleep-deprived. In places with particularly hot summers, this effect can be amplified. If you’ve ever been out in the sun for long periods of time, you’ll recognise that sluggish feeling that comes over you when you have to drag yourself up from the beach or deck chair. This feeling can mount up over the seemingly endless summer days, resulting in a cumulative and chronic sensation of lethargy. This can also be compounded by the fact that many people move from the warm outdoors to cold, air-conditioned rooms. This sudden temperature change leaves the body vulnerable and can make it hard for the immune system to work effectively.
So what is the reason for this lethargic state we all find ourselves in after too much sun? Well, the answer is pretty straightforward. Your body is working hard to keep you cool in the heat, and in doing so, it exerts a lot of energy. Your blood vessels dilate, which increases blood flow around the body, allowing more to rise to the skin’s surface. Sweating is also an important mechanism the body uses to keep cool. As sweat forms on your skin, it evaporates in the heat, cooling you down in the process. The end result of this overtime shift your body’s putting in is inevitable tiredness. Your heart and metabolic rate also go up, compounding the effect. On top of all this, most people are chronically dehydrated for much of their lives. We rarely drink as much water as we need, and a prominent symptom of dehydration is fatigue.
While it’s not exactly a fatal issue, summer fatigue can be quite draining, especially if patients are dealing with it on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the most prominent symptom of Lyme disease is also fatigue. Lyme disease comes in two distinct forms: acute Lyme, which occurs soon after the initial tick bite and lasts for a number of weeks, and chronic Lyme, which can persist for many years after the bite. Fatigue is a major factor in both manifestations of the disease, and one that patients continually grapple with on their road to recovery.
Telling the difference between acute Lyme disease and summer fatigue is relatively straightforward. Acute Lyme is almost always accompanied by flu-like symptoms, primarily a headache, fever, chills and aches. In many cases, a bullseye rash is also present around the location of tick bite, forming a red-ringed circle with another red circle inside. In addition, acute Lyme comes on rapidly after a bite, so if you’re aware of the dangers of Lyme, you can trace it back to a time you were maybe outdoors in wooded or grassy areas. Even if you don’t see the tick or find the site of the bite, Lyme disease can be investigated based on circumstantial evidence.
When it comes to chronic Lyme disease, detection is much harder. The symptoms of chronic Lyme are much less defined, and can vary from patient to patient. They can come on months after the tick bite, or in some cases, even years. It’s much harder in this instance to trace the symptoms back to a specific tick bite, or even a specific period of time. Chronic fatigue is one of the most prominent symptoms that chronic Lyme patients complain of. However, it is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain in the joints and bones, neurological complications, mobility issues and cardiac problems. None of these are present with summer fatigue, so the best way to differentiate between the two disorders is to keep a close eye on other potential symptoms. Keeping out of the sun for a couple of days as a test control wouldn’t hurt either.
Make Well offers a number of all-natural products that can be utilised to support the treatment of chronic diseases such as Lyme. Many of these supplements can help fend off bouts of fatigue and provide essential vitamins and minerals that patients might not be getting from their regular diets. If you’re having issues with fatigue and you don’t quite know how to rebalance yourself, a good first place to investigate is the nutrition you’re providing for your body. Cutting out certain foods, adding in others, and supporting your diet with supplements might be just what you need to conquer fatigue, no matter what form it comes in.