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Gigi Hadid Discusses a Shockingly Common Incurable Disease That Affects Her Family

By Hillary Eaton ; Updated August 14, 2017

Gigi Hadid is definitely no stranger when it comes to speaking about issues that are important to her. In a recent interview with Allure, Hadid took the opportunity to open up about a disease that truly hits home for the model and her family: Lyme disease.

Hadid, who graced the cover of the latest issue of Allure, took the opportunity to dive into her family’s battle with the controversial disease. The disease is outlined by the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS) as caused by a bacterial organism that is transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected tick.

Most people with Lyme disease develop a rash around the area of the bite that may feel hot to the touch and vary in size, shape and color, but it will often have a “bull’s eye” appearance. While a rash can be one indicator, many don’t develop one — which is a problem because the symptoms mimic those associated with the flu, such as stiff neck, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, etc.

While the model herself has never suffered from the disease, according to Allure, both her brother and sister contracted it and were treated while the disease was still in the early stages.

When caught in the first stage, Lyme disease can easily be treated with antibiotics. When it goes undiagnosed and enters late-stage Lyme disease, the symptoms can last an indeterminate amount of time.

While her brother and sister were able to identify and treat the disease early on, Gigi’s mother, Yolanda Hadid, was not so lucky. Hadid explains that because doctors did not catch it, her mother now suffers from late-stage Lyme disease.

“My mom has neurological Lyme disease,” Hadid told Allure, explaining that her mother deals with the spirochetes that are from the tick’s bacteria. “The spirochetes are like little screws and kind of embed themselves in the brain tissue.” When the disease affects the nerves in the brain, it’s harder to detect because “it’s not in the bloodstream anymore. You have to do a special test for it.”

NINDS explains, “Neurological complications most often occur in the second stage of Lyme disease, with numbness, pain, weakness, Bell’s palsy (paralysis of the facial muscles), visual disturbances and meningitis symptoms, such as fever, stiff neck and severe headache. Other problems, which may not appear until weeks, months or years after a tick bite, include decreased concentration, irritability, memory and sleep disorders and nerve damage in the arms and legs.”

Hadid tells Allure that when she was in high school, her mother sometimes couldn’t get out of bed or even watch TV. “And she couldn’t come to my volleyball games — the light and sound really got to her.” There were other times when her mother went along to her events when she really wasn’t up to it. “She tried to be a power mom.”

Because Lyme disease is inherently hard to identify without specific tests and can often appear as a simple cold or flu, it has remained one of the lesser-publicized diseases, considering how common it actually is. According to the CDC, there are 300,000 newly diagnosed cases each year.

Late-stage Lyme disease with chronic symptoms has garnered a lot of skepticism from people because the symptoms come and go and there is little existing research on its long-term effects. In fact, according to Allure, accusations and doubt about the severity of her condition and pain experienced was what has been rumored to be the cause of Yolanda recently dropping out of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

There is currently no cure for the recurring symptoms of late-stage Lyme disease, though, according to NINDS, there is finally some research being done to try to improve diagnostic testing.

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