Lyme Disease Symptoms Are Wide
Lyme disease can mimic hundreds of other conditions since its symptoms mirror many medical problems such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome or lupus, and is sometimes known as The Great Imitator because of this. for a more complete list of possible symptoms.
Symptoms can play a key role in diagnosing Lyme disease. Due to the lack of an accurate diagnostic test, many patients are diagnosed based on a combination symptoms and diagnostic testing. This makes it extremely important for patients to keep track of all the symptoms they experience, to share with their healthcare provider.
When do Lyme disease symptoms appear? Learn about the Stages of Lyme disease:
Lyme disease symptoms can vary based on stage of the disease and if other tick-borne infections are present and can change over time.
Symptoms in acute Lyme disease
Acute Lyme disease occurs days to weeks after the initial tick bite and infection, in which the bacteria have not yet spread from the site of infection in the skin.
The most common symptoms in acute Lyme disease are the ones people are most familiar with, because they are symptoms often shared with other illnesses however, its important to recognize that they could indicate Lyme, and you should see a Lyme-treating physician right away.
Symptoms in early disseminated Lyme disease
Symptoms in late stage Lyme disease
- neurologic features including vertigo or dizziness,
- difficulty sleeping
Some common questions
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Disclaimer: The above material is provided for information purposes only. The material is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patients medical history. Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. makes no warranties of any kind regarding this Website, including as to the accuracy, completeness, currency or reliability of any information contained herein, and all such warranties are expressly disclaimed.
What Are The Second Stage Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The symptoms of second stage, early disseminated, Lyme disease can be difficult to attribute. Symptoms include severe fatigue, fever, pain, intermittent weakness and achiness of the muscles and joints, numbness in arms and legs, vision changes, and cognitive dysfunction such as short-term memory difficulties and problems multitasking. These symptoms are not specific for Lyme disease and can make the diagnosis of second stage Lyme disease very challenging.
More recognizable Lyme disease nervous system manifestations include facial paralysis , or meningitis with severe headache and stiff neck. Notable cardiac manifestations include passing out or feeling faint from an abnormally slow heart rate, irregular heart palpitations, or unexplained difficulty tolerating exercise. Meningitis and carditis are both potentially serious Lyme disease conditions and warrant immediate medical attention.
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Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasnt been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur months or years after the tick bite.
This stage is characterized by:
- arthritis of one or more large joints
- brain disorders, such as encephalopathy, which can cause short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess, problems with following conversations, and sleep disturbance
- numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
- park or wildlife management
The majority of tick bites happen in the summer when ticks are the most active and people spend more time outside. However, its also possible to get Lyme disease from tick bites in early fall, and even in late winter if the weather is unseasonably warm.
Lyme disease prevention mostly involves decreasing your risk of experiencing a tick bite.
Take the following steps to prevent tick bites:
Contact a doctor if and whenever a tick bites you or your loved ones.
Complications Of Untreated Lyme Disease
If unchecked, the Lyme disease infection can spread to other bodily systems, causing significant damage. Untreated, complications of this condition can be very severe:
- Arthritis:Prolonged infection with Lyme disease leads to chronic joint inflammation and swelling, usually in the knees . These symptoms tend to arise within two years of infection, with periods of flare-ups and remissions. This arthritis is relatively difficult to manage, though antibiotics and steroids may be attempted.
- Lyme carditis:If the bacteria reach the heart tissues, they can cause inflammation and lead to heart block. The electrical signals being sent between the upper and lower chambers of the heart are interrupted, impairing the coordination of the heartbeat. Though disruptive, this is rarely fatal.
- Lyme neuroborreliosis:Inflammation of multiple nerves, including those in the spine and brain, is the chief characteristic of this condition. This can also affect the meningesthe layer of tissue surrounding the brain and spineleading to meningitis, among other conditions. Antibiotic therapy, if applied promptly, tends to be effective as a treatment.
Even in cases where Lyme disease has progressed, antibiotic regimensespecially drugs like doxycyclineare generally successful in resolving problems.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Chronic Lyme Disease
Laboratory Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease Infection
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States. It is a complex multi-system disease caused by infection of Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria and transmitted by the bite of the deer tick. This infection elicits a series of predictable host immune responses which provide the basis for current blood tests, the principle laboratory method for documenting Lyme infection.
The most commonly used tests are relatively insensitive in the very early stages of infection. The traditional western blot test improves the specificity of the diagnosis during later stages of infection, but it too may lack both sensitivity and specificity in early infection.
Clinicians are frequently confronted with patients presenting with unexplained illnesses, fevers, rashes, swollen joints, or neurologic symptoms . There are also challenging patients with persistent nonspecific symptoms after being treated for well-documented Lyme disease, and patients who develop new symptoms raising the suspicion for re-infection. The combination of antibody capture EIA and immunoblotting in most cases can assist the clinician in assessing these situations and lead to the correct diagnosis.
Early Lyme disease
No evidence of Lyme disease
Offers a comprehensive Lyme Antibody Analysis which includes IgM, IgG, and IgA antibody capture EIA, IgG immunoblotting on 2 strains of B. burgdorferi, and PCR testing on SF, CSF, and whole blood.
The clinical validity
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
B. burgdorferi is transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected black-legged or deer tick. The tick becomes infected after feeding on infected deer, birds, or mice.
A tick has to be present on the skin for approximately 36 to 48 hours to transmit the infection. Many people with Lyme disease have no memory of a tick bite.
Lyme disease was first recognized in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975. Its the most common tick-borne illness in Europe and the United States.
People who live or spend time in wooded areas known for transmission of the disease are more likely to get this illness. Additionally, people with domesticated animals that visit wooded areas also have a higher risk of getting Lyme disease.
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What I Want You To Know About Living With Late Stage Lyme Disease
Most of us have heard of Lyme Disease, but arent aware that living with Late Stage Lyme Disease can go far beyond treatment of a bulls-eye rash.
*Please be aware that the following post is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and it is not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before taking any actions based upon such information, I expressly recommend that you seek advice from a medical professional.*
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Symptoms Of Early Stage Lyme Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , early-stage Lyme disease symptoms crop up within 3 to 30 days after exposure and can include but are not limited to:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Erythema migrans , a bulls-eye-shaped rash that appears at the site of the tick bite
Early Lyme disease does not always appear the same in all patients. For example, up to 30% of patients dont remember experiencing a bulls eye rash.
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The Chance Of Getting Lyme Disease
Not all ticks in England carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
But it’s still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.
Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures that live in woods, areas with long grass, and sometimes in urban parks and gardens. They’re found all over the UK.
Ticks do not jump or fly. They attach to the skin of animals or humans that brush past them.
Once a tick bites into the skin, it feeds on blood for a few days before dropping off.
Chronic Lyme Disease Symptom Severity
In LDos chronic Lyme disease survey, over 75% of patients reported at least one symptom as severe or very severe and 63% reported two or more such symptoms. Find out more about LDo peer-reviewed published surveys. The chart below shows the severity of ten common chronic Lyme symptoms.
The survey also found that patients with chronic Lyme disease have high disability and unemployment rates. Over 40% of patients with chronic Lyme disease reported that they currently are unable to work because of Lyme disease and 24% report that they have received disability at some point in their illness.
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What Are The Treatments For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. The earlier you are treated, the better it gives you the best chance of fully recovering quickly.
After treatment, some patients may still have pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that lasts more than 6 months. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome . Researchers don’t know why some people have PTLDS. There is no proven treatment for PTLDS long-term antibiotics have not been shown to help. However, there are ways to help with the symptoms of PTLDS. If you have been treated for Lyme disease and still feel unwell, contact your health care provider about how to manage your symptoms. Most people do get better with time. But it can take several months before you feel all better.
Treatment For Chronic Lyme Disease
Sometimes, people go through treatment for Lyme disease but their symptoms donât go away. If this lasts over 6 months, itâs known as chronic Lyme disease or âpost-treatment Lyme disease syndromeâ .
Doctors still arenât sure why some people get PTLDS. Some believe that getting Lyme disease may cause damage to your tissues or immune system. Others believe itâs because the bacteria that causes Lyme hasnât completely gone away.
There is little evidence that taking more antibiotics at this stage will help. They may actually be harmful. Instead, your doctor will focus on treating the symptoms youâre still having. This will be different for everyone. Some people could benefit from a medicine that relieves fatigue, while others may need a drug that can help with headaches or very sensitive skin.
More research is needed to figure out how best to treat PTLDS. Itâs something that can be frustrating. Just remember: Many people who have this condition do start feeling like their old selves after a few months.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, rarely, Borrelia mayonii. Humans can get Lyme disease if they are bitten by an infected blacklegged tick, according to the CDC.
Usually the deer tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, and some ticks carry other diseases.
A persons chances of getting bitten by a tick and getting Lyme disease can depend on where they live, travel or what they do for a living. Common risk factors for contracting Lyme disease include the following:
- Spending a lot of time in wooded or grassy areas, especially in the Northeast and Midwest United States
- Exposed skin, which can make it easier for ticks to attach or bite you
- Removing ticks incorrectly or removing them 36 hours or more after theyve attached to your skin which allows the bacteria from the bite to enter your skin
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Early symptoms of Lyme disease start between 3 to 30 days after an infected tick bites you. The symptoms can include:
- A red rash called erythema migrans . Most people with Lyme disease get this rash. It gets bigger over several days and may feel warm. It is usually not painful or itchy. As it starts to get better, parts of it may fade. Sometimes this makes the rash look like a “bull’s-eye.”
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
If the infection is not treated, it can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. The symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of your body
- Facial palsy, which is a weakness in your facial muscles. It can cause drooping on one or both sides of your face.
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, especially in your knees and other large joints
- Pain that comes and goes in your tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations, which are feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, pounding, or beating too hard or too fast
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
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Biorepositories And Research Cohorts
Well-characterized samples are an essential tool to help researchers develop and validate new diagnostic tests and to better understand the complexities of LD. Well-characterized sample sets can benefit medical providers, test developers, and the public at risk for LD . It is critical that sample users understand the criteria used to enroll participants, how samples were collected and stored, and what additional clinical and testing data may be available. Additional benefits can be realized when multiple sample users are using the same well-characterized sample sets. Current sample sets available for researchers include the CDC Lyme Serum Repository , the Lyme Disease Biobank , and samples from the Studies of Lyme Immunology and Clinical Events at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Additionally, some investigators also have their own sample collections with, in some cases, blood samples, skin biopsy specimens and synovial fluid which form the basis for collaborative studies .
Lyme Disease Biobank
Long Island Outdoor Worker Cohort
What To Do If You Have A Blacklegged Tick Bite
Remove the tick by pulling it directly out with fine-tipped tweezers. Lift upward with slow and even pressure. Dont twist when removing it. Dont crush it or put soap or other substances on it. Dont apply heat to it.
Place the tick in a resealable container. See if you can identify what kind of a tick it is.
Immediately after removing the tick, wash your skin well with soap and water or with rubbing alcohol.
Not all ticks carry Lyme. The Lyme bacteria is transmitted only by blacklegged ticks in their nymph or adult stage.
Save the tick to show your doctor. The doctor will want to determine if its a blacklegged tick and if theres evidence of feeding. Ticks enlarge as they feed. Your risk of getting Lyme from an infected tick increases with the length of time that the tick fed on your blood.
Pull the tick out with tweezers and save it in a resealable container for identification.
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What Happens At Your Appointment
The GP will ask about your symptoms and consider any rash or recent tick bites you know about.
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. It has similar symptoms to other conditions and there’s not always an obvious rash.
2 types of blood test are available to help confirm or rule out Lyme disease. But these tests are not always accurate in the early stages of the disease.
You may need to be retested if you still have Lyme disease symptoms after a negative result.
Black Americans And Lyme Disease
The hallmark EM bulls eye or target shaped lesion or rash may be less visible on people of color or it may be missed because doctors have less experience or education diagnosing EM on patients of color which could delay diagnosis of Lyme disease according to research published in September 2018 in PLoS One.
Further indication of late or missed diagnosis is the greater incidence of late-Lyme arthritis among Black Americans when compared with white Americans, which is associated with ongoing infection, per an article published in December 2019 in Cureus.
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Untreated Lyme Disease Frequency
Its difficult to get exact numbers when it comes to Lyme disease, in part because theres only limited accounting of the conditions frequency overall, and its often misdiagnosed or mistaken for other conditions.
Currently, its estimated that 476,000 people develop it in the United States every year, with 81% of the cases clustered in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions.
A significantbut shrinkingproportion of those with the disease end up progressing without treatment. Current estimates are hard to come by. In 2012, researchers estimated that about 16% of Lyme disease cases present without rashincreasing the chance that the case is missed, overall. From 1.6% to 7% of all infections have no symptoms.
Knowledge and awareness of this disease have grown over the past couple of decades, greatly improving outcomes. This improving prognosis is associated with better care and detection, leading to timelier intervention.
If you live in a hot spot area for black-legged ticks, never hesitate to reach out to your healthcare professional if youre feeling sick or have a rash.