Achy Stiff Or Swollen Joints
Joint pain and stiffness, often intermittent, are early Lyme symptoms. Your joints may be inflamed, warm to the touch, painful, and swollen. You may have stiffness and limited range of motion in some joints .
Pain may move around. Sometimes your knees may hurt, whereas other times its your neck or your heels. You may also have bursitis . Bursae are the thin cushions between bone and surrounding tissue.
The pain may be severe, and it may be transitory. More than one joint may be affected. Most often the large joints are involved .
People often attribute joint problems to age, genetics, or sports. Lyme should be added to that list, as these statistics indicate:
- One study estimates that 80 percent of people with untreated Lyme have muscle and joint symptoms .
- Fifty percent of people with untreated Lyme have intermittent episodes of arthritis .
- Two-thirds of people have their first episode of joint pain within six months of the infection .
- Use of anti-inflammatory drugs may mask the actual number of people with joint swelling .
Joint pain that comes and goes, or moves from joint to joint, could be a sign of Lyme.
What Are The First Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
In the first early localized stage of Lyme disease the skin at the site of the tick bite becomes infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria which can cause an expanding round or oval red skin lesion called erythema migrans. This may or may not be associated with flu-like symptoms within days to a month after the tick bite such as achiness, chills, fever, sweats, fatigue, malaise, headache, stiff neck, muscle soreness, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and sore throat. The combination of the skin lesion and flu-like symptoms are the primary manifestations of acute stage Lyme disease. Acute Lyme disease is not associated with typical cold-like symptoms of runny nose, prominent cough, or prominent diarrhea.
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Can Lyme Disease Affect Kidney Function
Kidney disease can be a prevalent problem in patients who suffer from Lyme disease. In cases of chronic Lyme disease-induced kidney disease, the bacteria causes lesions on the kidneys, and can also cause glomerular disease.
Glomerular disease is a condition that causes red blood cells and proteins to leak out of the bloodstream and body and into the urinary tract. The condition can also cause the build-up of certain wastes because it damages the kidneys ability to rid the body properly of that waste.
Image by on The urinary system is designed to rid the body of waste, but what happens when its not doing its job?
What Are The Stages Of Lyme Infection
There are three stages:
- Early localized Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and a rash that looks like a bulls-eye or is round and red and at least 2 inches long
- Early disseminated Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms and legs, changes in your vision, heart palpitations and chest pain, a rash , and a type of facial paralysis known as Bellâs palsy
- Late disseminated Lyme: This can happen weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. Symptoms might include arthritis, severe fatigue and headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and confusion.
About 10% of people treated for Lyme infection donât shake the disease. They may go on to have three core symptoms: joint or muscle pain, fatigue, and short-term memory loss or confusion. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. It can be hard to diagnose because it has the same symptoms as other diseases. Plus, there isnt a blood test to confirm it.
Experts arenât sure why Lyme symptoms donât always go away. One theory is that your body keeps fighting the infection even after the bacteria are gone, like an autoimmune disorder.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
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Lyme disease is an underreported, under-researched, and often debilitating disease transmitted by spirochete bacteria. The spiral-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, are transmitted by blacklegged deer ticks. Lymes wide range of symptoms mimic those of many other ailments, making it difficult to diagnose .
The blacklegged ticks can also transmit other disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are known as coinfections . These ticks that transmit Lyme are increasing their geographical spread. As of 2016, they were found in about half the counties in 43 of 50 states in the United States .
Lyme is the fifth most reported of notifiable diseases in the United States, with an estimated 329,000 new cases found annually . Some studies estimate that there are as many as 1 million cases of Lyme in the United States every year .
Most people with Lyme who are treated right away with three weeks of antibiotics have a good prognosis.
But if youre not treated for weeks, months, or even years after infection, Lyme becomes more difficult to treat. Within days of the bite, the bacteria can move to your central nervous system, muscles and joints, eyes, and heart .
Here is a list of 13 common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
Symptoms Of Late Stage Lyme Disease
The CDC reports that late stage Lyme disease may appear days to months after the initial tick bite and may include but are not limited to:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes in new places on the body
- Facial palsy, also known as Bells palsy paralysis of one side of the face
- Arthritis or joint pain and swelling, especially of large joints
- Intermittent tendon, muscle, joint, nerve, or bone pain
- Heart palpitations or arrhythmia
- Dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain or spinal cord
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
As mentioned above, late stage Lyme may also be characterized by the recurrence of early stage symptoms, such as fatigue.
Symptoms Check Out? Get Tested. Get Answers.
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When Lyme Hurts Your Heart: Warning Signs + Solutions
Ryan Stewart, a speech-language pathologist in Virginia, developed a strange set of symptoms in 2009 that baffled one doctor after another. Included among those symptoms were a racing heartbeat following minimal physical exertion, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, she explains.
Over the next 10 years, Stewarts symptoms waxed and waned. Some days, they would let up other days, a sudden episode of rapid heartbeats or dizziness would frighten her sending her to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic.
Unfortunately, she always left those healthcare facilities without answers. Though Stewart believed her symptoms stemmed from her heart, repeated electrocardiograms , a cardiac MRI, and a couple week-long stints of wearing heart monitors all came back as normal. They could never catch a cardiac episode, she says.
Determined to live a normal life, Stewart continued her work as an SLP and began planning a family with her husband. After a series of fertility treatments, she became pregnant only to suffer a miscarriage in the early weeks a devastating loss, she says.
I knew this was a new symptom, and I had to go to the ER, says Stewart. They discovered I had ventricular tachycardia, and gave me a diagnosis of idiopathic ventricular tachycardia. Idiopathic meaning they didnt know what the cause was.
Other Digestive Issues That May Be Associated With Lyme Disease
Other digestive signs that give clues there may be an underlying infection like Lyme disease are candida and parasite infections that are difficult to treat. Infection with Borrelia causes immune dysfunction, making it challenging to treat yeast or parasitic infections until Lyme is successfully treated.
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An Overview Of The Cardiovascular System
In a healthy person, the heart pumps blood like a well-oiled machine, which delivers critical nutrients and oxygen to every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, and it removes carbon dioxide and other waste products from those tissues. Blood flows in the same direction throughout the body arteries carry oxygenated blood away from your heart, and veins return oxygen-poor blood back to the heart.
The average heart is larger than the size of an adult fist, and its the hardest working muscle in the body, pumping approximately 115,000 times a day. Here are some important points to remember about the heart:
- It consists of four chambers, including two atria and two ventricles.
- There are two atria, known as the right and left atrium. The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood from a large vein called the vena cava the left atrium receives deoxygenated blood from the lungs.
- The ventricles job is to collect and expel blood that comes from the atria. The right ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood into the vascular tree of the lungs where it receives oxygen. Then, the left ventricle pumps the oxygen-rich blood back to the tissues of the body.
- The upper wall of the right atrium houses a cluster of cells known as the sinoatrial node . The SA node is referred to as the hearts natural pacemaker, because it produces the electrical activity thats responsible for the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat.
What’s The Best Way To Prevent A Tick Bite
Ticks can’t fly or jump. But they live in shrubs and bushes and can grab onto you when you pass by. To avoid getting bitten:
- Wear pants and socks in areas with lots of trees and when you touch fallen leaves.
- Wear a tick repellent on your skin and clothing that has DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus.
- For even more protection, use the chemical permethrin on clothing and camping gear.
- Shower within 2 hours after coming inside. Look for ticks on your skin, and wash ticks out of your hair.
- Put your clothing and any exposed gear into a hot dryer to kill whatever pests might be on them.
How do you know if you’ve been bitten?
Since ticks are so small, you’ve got to have pretty good eyes to see them.
If you have a small, red bump on your skin that looks like a mosquito bite, it could be a tick bite. If it goes away in a few days, itâs not a problem. Remember, a tick bite doesnât necessarily mean you have Lyme disease.
If you notice a rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye, you might have a tick bite. Talk to your doctor about treatment.
If you have an allergic reaction to ticks, you’ll notice a bite right away.
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Lyme Disease And High Blood Pressure
During the days and weeks after a tick bite, concerns about Lyme disease often grow. Is low blood pressure a symptom of Lyme disease? Can Lyme disease affect your heart?
These are common concerns and, actually, they are well-founded. Several weeks into the disease, Lyme disease can affect the nervous system, even causing Bells palsy, and can get into the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain, causing meningitis. While there is not a specific connection between Lyme disease and low blood pressure or Lyme disease and high blood pressure, Lyme disease can affect the heart. The most common problem is a very slow heartbeat that leads to fatigue, dizziness and possibly fainting. The heart muscle can also become inflamed, which is a condition called myocarditis.
In the later stages of Lyme disease, pain and swelling of joints may develop. This type of arthritis commonly affects one knee or episodes of swelling in several joints, called migratory arthritis. The symptoms can become persistent.
Renal System Dysfunction Caused By Lyme Disease
The renal system is a vital part of the overall functioning of the body. Without the ability to filter the blood, it can lead to the aforementioned symptoms and conditions.
The damage done to the renal system following a Lyme disease infection can:
- Cause the kidney filtration system to cease functioning, or function at a lower level.
- Aid in the formation of lesions on the kidneys.
- Cause the build-up of waste in the bloodstream.
- Lead to the leakage of proteins and red blood cells out of the system.
- Eventually cause kidney disease or kidney failure.
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The Lyme Disease And Digestive Symptom Connection
Since Lyme disease is a systemic infection, the bacteria can affect any organ or tissue in the body. The gastrointestinal symptoms of Lyme disease and its associated infections are related to inflammation, nerve damage, and mitochondrial dysfunction. These digestive symptoms or conditions may occur in isolation, but if systemic symptoms are present or the digestive disorders are challenging to treat, Lyme disease should be considered as the underlying culprit. In addition, treating digestive disorders improves the outcome of treating Lyme disease by reducing intestinal-mediated immune dysregulation.
Digestive Symptoms Related To Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, in conjunction with the inflammation caused by leaky gut, primes the immune system that surrounds the digestive tract. Mast cells are part of the immune system and tend to be located where the outside world interfaces with the inside of the body. The skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract are examples of these locations.
When mast cells are triggered by a variety of stimuli, they release histamine and other chemical mediators. In MCAS, mast cells are more prone to releasing their contents leading to a myriad of symptoms. The most common digestive symptoms experienced in MCAS are nausea and heartburn, but abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation also be present. MCAS also contributes to systemic symptoms and digestive dysfunction needs to be addressed if it is contributing to MCAS.
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Chronic Lyme: What Happens When Lyme Goes Untreated
The Lyme community typically uses the term chronic Lyme disease to describe a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that crop up after getting Lyme disease and persist for months to years after infection.
The risk of chronic Lyme increases the longer a Lyme infection goes untreated or undertreated. In other words, patients are more likely to recover fully if their Lyme infection is detected and treated as early as possible after the discovery of a tick bite. This stage is usually marked by symptoms such as fevers, chills, muscle aches, and sometimes rashes.
When left untreated or undertreated, however, Lyme disease can spread throughout the body and affect:
- The central nervous system
- Muscles and joints
As Lymedisease.org points out, these symptoms can evolve, disappear, and reappear at different times.
Constipation In Lyme Disease
It is estimated that up to 25% of the worlds population struggles with constipation. Not only is constipation uncomfortable and can affect daily activities, but it can also predispose individuals to develop more severe health issues. What about people who are doing all the right things to prevent constipation drinking plenty of water, eating plenty of fiber, and exercising regularly but still experience constipation?
Constipation in Lyme has been referred to as Bells palsy of the gut. Just like facial paralysis that can occur in Lyme disease, the nerves that innervate the intestines can be affected causing a decrease in the muscular wave of contractions that usually move the contents of the intestines downstream. Chronic constipation ensues, and people end up taking magnesium, Dulcolax, or other laxative medications for long periods because the underlying cause of their constipation was never identified. Nerve dysfunction can occur elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, which leads to difficulty swallowing.
When constipation or difficulty swallowing is related to nervous system dysfunction from Lyme disease, treating the infection also helps to improve nerve signaling. Prokinetic medications help with bowel movements but also serve as physical therapy for the large intestine by increasing the activity of intestinal muscular contraction.
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Early Detection Is Key
Lyme disease is easiest to treat at the early or acute stage, within the first 30 days of exposure. This is why its so important to take precautions to prevent tick bites, both during and outside of tick season. Protect yourself when near potential tick habitats, always perform tick checks after outdoor activity , and dont delay seeking medical attention if you notice any symptoms that might be related to tick-borne illness. Its important to get tested as soon as possible for the best chances of recovery.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Lyme Disease
Despite some skepticism in the medical community, chronic Lyme disease is a growing epidemic in the U.S. This stems partly from the shortcomings of many of the officially recommended Lyme disease tests, which leave too many patients with untreated infections that then become persistent and debilitating.
The following article will cover what you should know about chronic Lyme and provide an introductory but non-exhaustive chronic Lyme disease symptoms checklist.
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