Ticks Symptoms and Signs: Causes

Symptoms and Signs of Ticks

Doctor’s Notes on Ticks

Ticks are bloodsucking arthropods classified as either hard or soft ticks with over 800 species; hard ticks have a hard plate or scutum on their back while soft ticks do not; both types attach to the skin of humans or other animals by their mouth parts to get blood. Hard ticks may stay attached for days while soft ticks may attach for only hours. The first sign or symptom is seeing a tick (range from small pinpoint-size to about 10 mm and are mainly brownish or grayish in color) attached to your skin or on your clothing. Generally, tick bites are usually painless (except for some soft ticks) but over time, other signs and symptoms develop. The bite site may cause local muscle weakness or even local paralysis. After ticks drop off, bite areas may develop redness or a rash with itching and burning. In addition, soft tick bites may cause localized intense pain. Late signs and symptoms may include developing allergic reactions to red meats or the development of a bite infection with red streaks, swelling and swollen lymph nodes in areas adjacent to the tick bite.

Other signs and symptoms of a tick bite are related to the tick bite as a vector for other pathogens that cause disease. There are at least 14 different diseases transmitted by different tick bites. Various ticks may produce noticeable signs and symptoms, usually after the tick has detached itself. For example, Lyme disease (caused by Borrelia species of bacteria) can produce bull’s-eye target – shaped rashes while Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (caused by R. rickettsii) can produce a spotty skin rash with a fever and neck stiffness.

The cause of tick bites is the tick needing a blood meal for survival. Secondary symptoms and signs are caused by pathogenic organisms transmitted to humans during the tick bite.

Ticks Symptoms

Tick bites are generally painless. Many people may not even notice the bite and may never find the tick if it falls off. Small ticks, like the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease, are so tiny they may be nearly undetectable. Some nymphal ticks are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. However, there are some symptoms that may occur that can be directly related to the tick itself; they are due to the tick bite.

Occasionally, a neurotoxin (a substance that is toxic to nerves) secreted at the time of attachment to make the bite unnoticeable to humans and other hosts can cause muscle weakness or paralysis. It rarely causes paralysis that inhibits breathing or may cause neck stiffness. The simple task of removing the tick stops any further neurotoxin production, and the person usually recovers quickly and completely.

The actual bite may cause symptoms only after the tick drops off. However, some people may notice local redness (red spot), rash near the bite, itching, burning, and rarely, localized intense pain (soft ticks) before or after the tick drops off. The majority of tick bites result in few, if any, immediate symptoms. However, saliva from the Lone star tick has been linked to allergic reactions to red meats (beef, pork, venison, for example). Milk allergy may also occur. Researchers suggest an alpha-gal sugar antigen is secreted with tick saliva into humans that produce an immune response to similar antigens in red meats. When red meats are eaten, the immune system responds by causing swelling, hives, and even anaphylactic shock. Occasionally, the tick bite may become infected, causing localized swelling, swollen lymph nodes, and/or red streaks to appear in the skin.

The results of the illnesses or pathogens transmitted by ticks often begin days to weeks after the tick is gone. That’s why doctors or affected individuals may not suspect a tick-related illness because many people are not aware of the bites or ignore or forget about barely noticeable «bites.» The most important clue about any tick-related illness is to tell the physician about a tick bite. Also, the individual needs to tell their physician about outdoor activity (camping, hiking, etc.) in tick-infested areas even if the person does not remember a tick bite.

After a tick bite, individuals may develop any of these symptoms that may be due to the organism that the tick transmits during its bite:

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as achiness, chills, and headaches
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Numbness
  • Rash (these vary according to the pathogen transmitted by the tick) — erythema migrans rash that can occur early in Lyme disease may have a characteristic «bull’s eye» appearance
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Pain and swelling in the joints, joint pains
  • Palpitations
  • Paralysis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting

These symptoms may appear with many different types of tick bites; the symptoms that develop due to the different organisms are included in this list, but readers are advised to use the links provided in this article for more information about specific conditions. This will allow the reader to obtain a more definitive set of symptoms for each different pathogen passed into the host by ticks. For example, Figure 4 shows the «bull’s eye» rash seen in patients who develop Lyme disease.


Tics In Children: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Methods

Nat was staring at the teacher and continuously blinking her right eye. Her teacher just thought she was being silly and didn’t pay much attention. Another time, the teacher saw Nat constantly grimacing at another student. This time, she was worried as that was not normal behavior for Nat, who is usually friendly and polite with everyone in the class.

Nat was not silly or rude. She had a repetitive muscle-spasm or movement, also referred to as the Tic syndrome. Here, MomJunction explains twitches and tics in children, why they happen and how they can be treated.

What Are Tics?

Tics are involuntary muscle or vocal spasms that are sudden, repetitive, and last for a specific duration. Tics usually occur in children under 18 years, and studies reveal that 20% of school-going children are affected by it (1).

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The severity of tics varies from one child to another.

Tics increase in severity when the child is around 11-12 years old and decrease during adolescence. These do disappear eventually, but in some cases, the child experiences them in adulthood as well (2).

Comorbidities are common among children who suffer from tics http://nationalautismassociation.org/pdf/MedicalComorbiditiesinASD2013.pdf. Children with tics may also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), separation anxiety disorder or learning disorders. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Tics-Tourette-Syndrome-and-OCD.aspx.

Symptoms Of Tics

The frequency, intensity, and duration of the spasm or tic may vary from one person to another. The symptoms may also vary between simple tics and complex tics.

Simple tics are short-term and could be either vocal or motor. Simple vocal tics in children could be:

  • Sighing
  • Coughing
  • Grunting
  • Other vocal sounds such as hooting or shouting

Simple motor tics could include:

  • Blinking
  • Nose twitching
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Head jerking
  • Jaw movements

Complex tics last longer and are often a combination of multiple tics. Complex vocal tics could involve repetitive use of words or phrases that have no relevance to the conversation. The child may repeat his or her own words or repeat something said by another person. These words may be spoken in a specific manner or just grunted in between.

Complex motor tics could be a combination of blinking, head jerking, and shoulder shrugging in a specific order. They could also involve evident physical movements such as jumping, hopping, or an obscene gesture, and could seem like a deliberate or voluntary action. In some cases, complex motor tics in children could just be an imitation of another person’s actions.

Causes Of Transient Tic Disorder:

There is no known cause of tics in children. Studies suggest that there could be more than one contributing factor. Researchers believe that a combination of environmental and biological factors can develop the tic syndrome in a child. Environmental factors such as allergens, chemicals in cleaning products and even exposure to violence in movies or video games can trigger a tic (http://www.worrywisekids.org/node/119).

Some researchers suggest that tic disorder in children is genetical, while others suggest that abnormalities in the brain or with the neurotransmitters could result in a tic syndrome. Tic syndromes could also be the result of certain medical conditions such as stroke, toxins in the body, head trauma, surgery or infection.

Neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington’s disease, neuroacanthocytosis and Creutzfeldt-Jakob could also contribute to development of tics in kids.

Tic syndrome in children could also develop if:

  • there were complications during his birth
  • the mother had consumed alcohol or smoked during pregnancy
  • The child’s birth weight was low
  • The child had group A ß-hemolytic streptococcal (“strep”) infection (this is still being studied)


Diagnosis of tics is not easy, as a few symptoms such as nose twitching, sniffing, or throat clearing could also occur due to an allergic reaction. Diagnosis of tics begins with a complete physical and neurological evaluation, followed by a study of the child’s medical history to determine if an underlying medical condition is causing the tics.

During the diagnosis, doctors would check for:

  1. Age when the tic symptoms have manifested; ideally it must be before the child turns 18
  2. Severity of tics
  3. Duration of tics
  4. Type of tics: vocal or motor

If the child has had short-term vocal or motor tics for at least a month but less than a year, it is transient tic syndrome. If the tics are vocal or motor and are more long-lasting, and persist for a year or more, it is chronic tic disorder. Tics are often confused with Tourette syndrome, which is the persistence of both motor and vocal spasms or tics for at least one year (3).


Tics usually do not require treatment unless they affect the child’s everyday activities or are very severe. Treatment options for tic syndromes could include:

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the best treatments and most recommended options for tic disorders. Psychologists use a form of CBT called habit reversal training that focuses on the emotion preceding a tic. Once the events or situations that may trigger the tic are identified, the therapist helps the child learn a less visible motor reaction.

For instance, facial tics in children such as nose twitching or blinking, the therapist may help replace that with a less obvious one such as deep breathing or closing the eyes for a few seconds. Behavioral therapy may also help in reducing the frequency of the tics through breathing and relaxation techniques.

2. Medication

Depending on the reason behind the tic, the doctor may prescribe:

  • Neuroleptics or antipsychotics such as pimozide, risperidone, and aripiprazole are the main medicines for tics in children (4). They work on altering the chemicals that control the motor abilities. However, they may have side-effects such as blurred vision, weight gain, constipation, and dry mouth.
  • Clonidine helps minimize the symptoms of tics as well as ADHD.
  • Botulinum toxin helps in relaxing specific muscles and in preventing tics. The effect of this medication, however, lasts only for three months.
  • Clonazepam also alters the production of chemicals in the brain to reduce the severity and frequency of tics.

Note that these are prescription medications and come with a few side-effects. So speak to your doctor to determine what’s best for your child.

3. Treatment of underlying medical condition

If the diagnosis reveals that tics are a result of an underlying condition, treatment of that condition will help eliminate tics in children.

Besides these, there are a few homeopathic remedies. However, the best way to handle tics in children is to find the trigger and remove it. This may even cure tics completely.

Home Care And Management Of Tics

In most cases, you can manage the tic syndrome without any medication or treatment. Remember that tics are involuntary or no-fault neurological symptoms, which means that the child is not doing them on purpose. A little bit of care on how you react to the tics can go a long way in minimizing the problem or even preventing it.

Here are a few home care tips to deal with tics in children.

  • Stress and anxiety are perhaps the most common triggers of tics in a kid. So try to keep the child in a stress-free environment.
  • Sometimes, tics could indicate a food allergy. Get your kid tested for food allergy and avoid dairy, foods with artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, processed foods, corn syrups, and other gluten foods for a while.
  • Ensure that the child rests well in the night. They should get at least ten hours of sleep.
  • If the tics are not severe, ignore them. Paying too much attention to it can stress out the child, and make it worse.
  • Tics can be embarrassing. Reassuring the child that nothing is wrong with them can help reduce the frequency of tics.
  • A study found that 72% of children having ADHD had a magnesium deficiency (5). Given the link between ADHD and tic syndrome, giving the child magnesium-rich foods and supplements can be a good idea.
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A healthy diet, lifestyle, and a positive environment can help the child stay healthy and relaxed, which can prevent tics and also aid in their treatment. Tics can be frustrating, especially because they are involuntary and present themselves at the worst of times. The best way to handle them is to stay calm and let the child be stress-free about it. Also, make a note of the events before the tics manifest. This will help you identify the triggers, which make treating the tics or preventing them easy.

Do you have any tips on handling tics in kids? Share them here.


Symptoms Of Seed Tick Bites: How To Remove Seed Ticks At Home?

The larval form of ticks is called seed ticks. Seed ticks are tiny and consist of six legs as compared to adult ticks having eight legs. Ticks can infest humans as well as animals. They bite and burrow into the skin. The bites of seed ticks can cause intense itching in both animals as well as humans. Since this form of ticks resembles tiny seeds they are referred as seed ticks. We all know ticks often cause infections as they carry microorganisms.

Although seed ticks are small in size they are as potent as adults.

Usually antibiotics and anti histamines are useful in treating the condition. However, they should also be removed properly.

Symptoms Of Seed Tick Bites

Seed ticks always are not carriers of any pathological disease. In such case they may not produce any symptom. At the most they can cause itching and bump like swelling on skin surface, especially if the person is allergic.

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain fever:

  • Rashes on extremities, especially on wrist and ankles.
  • Muscular pain.

Symptoms of Tularemia:

  • Sudden onset of high fever followed by profuse sweating.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Swelling on skin at the affected site.
  • Swelling of lymph nodes.
  • If mouth is the portal of entry, it can result in inflamed tonsils and mouth ulcers.
  • Lymph nodes remain enlarged for months.

Symptoms of Lyme disease:

  • High fever without any reason.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Ringing sound in ears.
  • Rashes in the area of seed bites.

How To Remove Seed Ticks At Home?

The most important thing in seed tick infestation is to remove the ticks from the body. Antibiotics play an important role in treatment of symptoms produced by seed tick bite. Few home remedies also work well to remove the ticks. If you are coming in contact with your pet animal, you should also treat the pet.

  • Seed ticks appear as tiny dots on the skin. There are plenty of them on a given particular site of the skin. The first step is to remove the seed ticks. Do not remove seed ticks with your hand. Use a knife to scrape the ticks. You can also use tweezers to remove the seed ticks. While removing use magnifying glass to visualize tiny seed ticks.
  • Masking tape is another method to remove seed ticks. Place the tape over the area firmly. Now pull the tape with force at one time. The ticks that are stuck to the tape should come out.
  • If the ticks do not come out with the tape, you have to use shampoo that removes lice.
  • To alleviate itching, apply ice cubes wrapped in a towel over the area.
  • Applying aloe vera juice on the area is also a natural remedy to treat seed tick bite.

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I had a seed tick on me for about one week and it was on my back. It was very itchy and I asked my daughter to see what it was? It was very embedded and she took it out but it has been itchy for last two weeks and it has got a huge ring around it. Should I be worried? Thanks for the info on seed tick bites.

I was camping with my buddy and my volleyball was kicked down a hill, I went to go get it and came back up realizing I had a small case of seed ticks, they weren’t bad so I just picked them off. I would find them off and on me through out the day rarely. The next day I woke up with about 10-15 little bites on me but no ticks attached. It has been 2 days and I am up at midnight. to find 2 ticks on my arm and about 30 bites on my body.

How do I get rid of them? I don’t know if there in my hair also. Every time I get bitten, they run away, so I can’t even find them. None of them are attached to the skin. There all traveling. Please suggest what I should do? It is itching like anything.

I am facing the same issue. Two country dogs brought seed ticks in our house. They were infested with the ticks I think so. We can see the ticks fall off from their body. We try to get rid of them, but no tick is attached to the skin. However, while getting rid the ticks from our house we often get bitten. What must be done?

As you know seed ticks are larval form of ticks. They are extremely small. They only have six legs as compared to eight in adult ticks. Seeds ticks can infest humans and animals. Their overwhelming number is a big problem. First of all you will have to get rid of seed ticks from the dog. Use medicated tick shampoo to kill the parasites. Run flea comb after bathing your dog to remove any leftover dead seed ticks on dog’s body. Use topical repellent spray on dogs bedding and blanket to kill ticks present there. Also treat your home with insecticide.
Remove the seeds ticks from your body if they are present. Use a tweezer or a knife to remove the seed ticks. Apply aloe vera gel if there is itching over the tick bite. Take antibiotics and antihistamine medicine as prescribed by your doctor if you suffer from any of the symptoms such as fever, enlarged lymph nodes, rash, etc.

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Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention of Parakeet Illness

Once you recognize parakeet illness symptoms you will need to do something about it. The best thing you can do to help a sick pet is to take it to the vet. Until you do, learn some first aid for sick parakeet.

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Note that when visiting a Vet, it is helpful to bring the bird in his actual cage. Birds will attempt to hide illness when in a strange environment as a protective measure. Bringing the parakeet cage will make the bird comfortable and provide the Vet an opportunity to check things such as hygiene and even diet. For example, all because you are feeding your Parakeet a high quality food does not mean that he is eating it.

A veterinarian will observe the bird’s activity level, posture, attitude and appearance as compared to other avian patients.

Parakeet Illness Symptoms

Sick Parakeet Symptoms include:

  • Partially closed eyes
  • Feather ruffling
  • Blinking the eyes more than normal
  • Tucking the head under the wing
  • Difficulty breathing: Opened mouth breathing indicates shortness of breath
    • Excessive chest movement
    • Excessive tail movement when breathing
  • Sitting on the bottom of the cage
  • Hunched when standing
  • Straining when defecating
  • Balance problems
  • Shivering
  • Rapid movement of feathers
  • Poor response to an external stimulus
  • Lameness
  • Drooped wings (indicates arthritis, fracture, ligament damage, bruising, nerve damage)
  • Shifting weight to one side of the body

If you see your pet is all fluffy separate him from the other birds (if there are any). If you can, measure your parakeet’s temperature.

When sick, parakeet’s temperature will be lower than when healthy. Healthy bird has a temperature of 40,5 to 42,6 degrees Celsius (105 to 108.5 degrees Fahrenheit). The lower the temperature goes — more severe the illness is.

Other signs of illness include abnormal feather coloring, too many pin feathers (developing feather) and over grown nails.

It would be good to put the bird in warmer environment, where the air temperature would be about 38 degrees Celsius (100 deg. F).

Put some clean paper towels on the cage bottom and change them several times a day.

It is very important to maintain hygiene on the highest level when it comes to illness prevention and treatment.

Possible Causes of a Sick Parakeet

The Parakeet Diet needs to contain a collection of vital nutrients such
as that found in Kaytee Forti. A parakeet on a seed based diet alone may not be receiving all of the nutrients needed, particularly when young.

Often, simple factors are resulting in a sick parakeet and parakeet health problems:

  • Environment: Use of household disinfectants (Lysol, Ammonia, Clorox), furniture polish, floor wax, paint, hair spray, carpet cleaner, furniture cleaner, dry cleaning fluid, fumes from chemicals, kerosene heaters, cigarette smoke
  • Poor Nutrition: over use of vitamin supplements, an all-seed diet can lead to a slow decline over months and years (only feed quality formulated diets)
  • Poor hygiene: dirty cage
  • Bird History: birds caught in the wild may have been exposed to disease
  • Time at home: birds kept for less than a year may be stressed, more than a year nutrition may be the cause
  • New birds added to home: New birds can introduce new illnesses
  • Lack of Sunlight or fresh air
  • Recent dietary change
  • Medications or OTC medicines
  • Changes in Parakeet behavior

Feather changing ? an opportunity for parakeet illness

There are two periods in a year when parakeets are more sensitive. It happens when they are changing feathers. Normally that would be March and September (European climate).

This period lasts about 4 to 7 weeks. Changing feathers exhausts the bird and it is much easier for him to catch some parakeet illness.

While changing feathers the bird can get really nervous. He will sometimes nap a lot while changing feathers and he will be all fluffy with a lot of feathers falling off. As we know, these are parakeet illness symptoms but in this case there is probably nothing wrong with the bird.

At times the bird will pluck old feathers. Sometimes that can cause injuries and bleeding. You can stop the bleeding by applying light pressure to the spot with a piece of cotton.

Birds kept indoors, like the pets I am talking about, have more trouble in this period than the birds in breeding houses.

When the temperature suddenly raises (like in the fall when the heating in apartments starts), they can suddenly loose a lot of feathers. They will look pretty bold.

One more situation that will make this more difficult on the bird will be if the apartment air has less than 40% humidity.

Anyway, you should pay special attention to your bird in this period. If it is possible you should keep the area where the bird is located warm, as the bird will be ?naked? and more sensitive to cold.

In this period you should feed budgie parakeets better. So, besides seeds, fruit and vegetables, you should give them hard boiled egg whites and some vitamins.

Once more, we are reminding you that all these advices are just first aid for the illness. If you see your pet is sick, try to get him to the vet as soon as you can.

And let us not underestimate the power of preventing illnesses. Feed your pet the best food, keep him clean, make sure he gets enough fresh air, give him toys so he can enjoy himself and be his friend. That will do more for his health than any medicine in the world.

Have a Parakeet Health or Care Question for our Vet? We Will Answer it for Free!

Do you need Parakeet health or care advice? Just ask a question and our Vet will answer it as soon as possible for FREE.

If your question is medical or behavior related, please include information such as species, age, diet, habitat and anything related to the medical history of your lizard.

Please upload a picture of your Parakeet, especially if you believe it will help the Veterinarian. This is often the case when you are concerned with a Parakeet skin disease or feather problem. Please know that we receive many questions and answer them on a first come, first served basis. If you need an immediate response, we suggest you use this online veterinary service that is available now to answer your questions.

Other questions answered by our Veterinarian

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