Bella Hadid is taking time out of the spotlight in an attempt to address ongoing symptoms of Lyme disease.
The 26-year-old supermodel has suffered from an irregular heartbeat, joint pain and shortness of breath after contracting the bacterial infection more than a decade ago.
His illness has become so serious that he has been on ‘medical leave’ for months, with a source saying MY! News this week that he is “treating his Lyme disease,” dismissing rumors that he is in rehab.
Hadid has frequently shared details of her ongoing battle, and in early 2023, she suffered a flare-up of symptoms, including skin problems, fatigue and stomach issues, due to a dental infection. He has also mentioned that stress and overwork make his symptoms worse.
But what is Lyme disease? Here MailOnline reveals the main symptoms of the disease and how it is treated.
Bella Hadid has been putting her health first and has taken medical leave to treat her Lyme disease.
The supermodel was first diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012, since then she has suffered major flare-ups that occurred when she was ‘stressed out’ or ‘overworked’.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by infected ticks, which are small spider-like bugs that vary from reddish to black in color and can be the size of a poppy seed or baked bean.
They mainly inhibit grassy areas in forests, urban parks and gardens.
The bugs can be found in every country in the UK, in almost every state in the US, and in Europe and Asia.
However, not all ticks in the UK carry the disease. About 10 percent of ticks are thought to have it.
The infection is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi that is transmitted through their bites.
Ticks that transmit Lyme disease can be found in every country in the UK, in almost every state in the US, and throughout Europe and Asia.
How is Lyme disease treated?
Lyme disease is usually easier to treat the earlier it is diagnosed, says the NHS.
Those with symptoms, such as a circular or oval-shaped rash around a tick bite, fever, headache, or muscle and joint pain, usually receive antibiotics for up to 28 days.
Some people with severe symptoms will be referred to a specialist in hospital so antibiotics can be given directly into a vein.
It can take months to recover from Lyme disease, but most people get better after treatment. Those with long-lasting symptoms may be referred to a specialist.
Doctors don’t know why some people have long-term symptoms, so there is no agreed treatment to control them.
Natasha Metcalf, co-founder and chair of the charity Lyme Disease UK, has urged people to protect themselves against the disease.
She said: ‘We don’t want people to be afraid to enjoy the outdoors, but rather for people to come away armed with the facts and knowledge they need to protect themselves and others from Lyme disease.
“Early intervention is key, and getting that message out to the public is crucial.”
The NHS website advises people to take the following steps to protect themselves from the disease:
- Cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your pants into your socks.
- Use insect repellent on your clothing and skin; products that contain DEET are best
- Stay on clear paths whenever possible
- Wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to see and remove.
Ticks that transmit Lyme disease primarily inhibit green areas in forests, urban parks, and gardens.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
A rash is one of the first and most obvious signs to look out for.
The erythema migrans (EM) rash is often called a bull’s-eye rash because of its red circular rings. It should be treated immediately, according to Lyme Disease UK.
However, the rash doesn’t always develop this way, especially in darker skin tones, and a third of people with Lyme disease don’t develop it at all.
The symptom may also appear as a solid rash or may take on a bruise-like form.
Lyme Disease UK advises that the rash is the most important thing to look out for after a tick bite: it takes at least three days, and even up to three months, to appear.
The rash is usually painless and not itchy or hot. However, if you have redness or itchiness after the bite, it’s usually a histamine reaction.
The erythema migrans (EM) rash, often referred to as a bull’s-eye rash because of its circular red rings, should be treated immediately, says charity Lyme Disease UK
How do I remove a tick?
Ticks should be removed with a tick removal tool or a pair of very fine-tipped tweezers, making sure all parts of the tick are removed.
A tick remover should be an essential part of any first aid kit.
There is no minimum time that a tick must be attached to transmit an infection. However, it must be removed as soon as possible.
Never remove a tick with your fingers, normal tweezers or any other inappropriate tool.
It is also very important not to smother a tick with oil, petroleum jelly, or any other substance to try to remove it.
This can stress the tick and cause it to respond by regurgitating its stomach contents into the host’s bloodstream.
How to stay safe
- Take an effective tick repellent on outdoor trips and a tick removal tool.
- Permethrin-treated outerwear should also be considered for high-risk activities and occupations.
- Avoid walking in tall grass and stay on the paths whenever possible.
- Wear light colored clothing, as this will make it easier to spot ticks and brush them off.
- Wear long sleeves and tuck pants into socks.
- Shower and do a complete tick check on yourself, children and pets when you get home.
- Remember that ticks can be as small as poppy seeds, so checking them carefully is key. Pay special attention to the hairline and behind the ears of young children.
- Talk to your vet about tick prevention products for pets and check them daily for ticks.
Source: Lyme disease UK
Some people experience flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, stiff neck, muscle pain, and fatigue.
Muscle and joint pain can also be felt weeks or days after a tick bite, says the NHS.
If Lyme disease is not treated or caught early, the symptoms can develop into more serious symptoms.
Pain and swelling can develop in the joints, known as inflammatory arthritis.
Drooping on one side of the face or weakness of the facial muscles is another indication of Lyme disease.
This is because the bacteria that cause Lyme disease can also damage the nervous system, including the facial nerve.
Weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles usually affects one side of the face, says the charity Facial Palsy UK.
The symptom is especially common in children, according to Lyme Disease UK.
Some people may also experience shooting nerve pain, which may feel sharp or stabbing.
Concentration problems or forgetfulness are later symptoms of the disease, according to the NHS.
If the disease is treated in its early stages, you are less likely to experience memory problems.
The Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium that causes Lyme disease can change your vision, according to the charity Guide Dogs UK.
Those who have recently been infected may suffer from conjunctivitis, which causes the eyes to become red, irritated, and swollen.
Victims may also experience spasms in the body, including the eyes.
This vision change may be temporary and may improve or resolve with treatment of the disease.
However, long-term patients may experience floaters and inflammation.
Optic neuritis is another eye symptom that can develop among people with Lyme disease, according to Guide Dogs UK. This is when the optic nerve becomes inflamed, which can lead to severe eye pain and loss of vision. Experts haven’t made a clear link to how Lyme disease directly causes this to happen.