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Physical Signs Of Lyme Disease

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You Have A Fever And Chills But Its Not The Flu Or Covid

Diagnosing and treating Lyme disease

Other common symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, and body aches.

If that trio sounds familiar, its because the symptoms can appear after any infection, such as COVID-19 or the flu. You can get tested at a doctors office to rule out other illnesses, but antibodies for Lyme disease typically dont show up on tests for weeks after infection, according to the CDC.

Fredericks recommended checking for the bulls-eye rash to set early Lyme disease symptoms apart from something like the flu.

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Lyme Disease Information Sheet

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria carried by deer ticks. Deer ticks are brown and when young, they are as small as the head of a pin, which can make them very difficult to see. Deer ticks are prevalent in the Midwest, which has heavily wooded areas where deer ticks thrive. Children and adults who spend a great deal of time outdoors are especially at risk.

Ticks attach easily to bare flesh. People who live in an area where ticks are common should protect themselves and their children by wearing long sleeves and long pants and by keeping pets from wandering in tall weeds and grasses.

Bacteria from a tick bite can enter a persons bloodstream only if the tick stays attached to the skin for 36 to 48 hours or longer. Remove the tick within two days and the risk of acquiring Lyme disease is low.

Lyme Disease Is The Most Common Tick

Approximately 35,000 cases of Lyme disease, an infection transmitted by ticks, are reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year. The illness is primarily spread by the bite of blacklegged ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.

However, estimates based on insurance claims show that more than ten times that number about 476,000 people are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year, even if they don’t report it directly to the CDC.

Lyme disease can also be tricky to diagnose, as many of the symptoms can occur with other infections. Doctors may consider your lifestyle, as well as the region where you live to determine if you’re likely to have been exposed to blacklegged ticks. Also known as deer ticks, the insects are local to the northeast and have spread southward and to parts of the Midwest.

Here are five physical signs to look out for if you are at risk of contracting Lyme disease.

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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider

If you feel sick after having spent time in areas where ticks might live, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

If you received a Lyme disease diagnosis and you dont feel well after taking all of your antibiotics, contact your provider. This is especially true if you have symptoms like a stiff neck or mental confusion.

Some Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms

Lyme Disease Symptom Overview

As mentioned, chronic Lyme disease consists of a broad cluster of physical, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. Some of these symptoms are much more common, while others almost never occur, but can be deadly. But even the less severe symptoms, such as chronic fatigue and pain, can lead to drastic changes in quality of life for chronic Lyme patients.

Chronic Lyme survivors have reported experiencing the following symptoms for months to years after infection:

  • Intermittent fevers, chills, and sweats
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Numbness and tingling in the limbs
  • Dizziness and shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Multiple-chemical sensitivities

Chronic Lyme disease can be linked to deadly symptoms, such as Lyme carditis .

According to Lymedisease.org, studies consistently show that chronic Lyme disease patients have poorer quality of life than those with other chronic diseases. One of their own studies showed that 75% of surveyed patients reported at least one symptom as severe or very severe.

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Regression And Other Symptoms In Children

Children are the largest population of Lyme patients.

The CDC study of reported Lyme cases from 19922006 found that the incidence of new cases was highest among 5- to 14-year-olds . About one quarter of reported Lyme cases in the United States involve children under 14 years old .

Children can have all the signs and symptoms of Lyme that adults have, but they may have trouble telling you exactly what they feel or where it hurts.

You may notice a decline in school performance, or your childs mood swings may become problematic.

Your childs social and speech skills or motor coordination may regress. Or your child may lose their appetite.

Children are more likely than adults to have arthritis as an initial symptom 01267-2/fulltext#sec0040″ rel=”nofollow”> 25).

In a 2012 Nova Scotian study of children with Lyme, 65 percent developed Lyme arthritis . The knee was the most commonly affected joint.

Summary:

Pearls And Other Issues

Based on the geographic distribution of the shared vector Ixodes scapularis, co-infections with Lyme disease and human granulocytic anaplasmosis and/or babesiosis can occur. Co-infected patients may be more severely ill at presentation, have a persistent fever longer than 48 hours after initiating antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease, or present with anemia, leukopenia, and/or thrombocytopenia. When co-infection is suspected or confirmed, treatment with an appropriate antimicrobial regimen for each infection is necessary for resolution of illness.

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How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed

A healthcare provider will diagnose Lyme disease based on symptoms, physical findings and whether or not you’ve been in an area populated by infected ticks.

Many people dont remember or know that theyve been bitten by a tick. This is because the tick is tiny, and its bite is usually painless.

Your provider will confirm the diagnosis using a blood test. If your first blood test is negative for Lyme disease, you won’t need another test. If the first test is positive or equivocal, your provider will conduct the test again. You have to have two positive results to be diagnosed with Lyme disease.

How Do People Get Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease Symptoms and The First Month of Treatment
  • Lyme disease is normally carried in the blood of mice, squirrels, birds and other small animals. It is transmitted to ticks when they feed on infected animals and then to humans through the bites of the infected ticks.
  • It is not transmitted directly from person-to-person by touching or kissing.
  • Although dogs and cats can get Lyme disease, they cannot transmit the infection directly to humans. Pets can, however, carry infected ticks into your home or yard.
  • Deer hunting may increase exposure to ticks when tracking through high grass, shrubs and brush areas. Lyme disease cannot be contracted from eating deer meat.

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Lyme Disease And The Cdc

In order for the Centers for Disease Control to recognize a Lyme case for surveillance purposes, there must be objective findings, such as positive blood tests, Bells palsy or joint swelling . The chart below reflects the CDC-reviewed surveillance case manifestations from 2001 to 2010.

This situation contributes to what many experts view as severe undercounting of Lyme disease by the CDC.

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 bull’s-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 isn’t 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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Can Lyme Disease Completely Be Cured

Taking oral antibiotics typically cures Lyme disease after two to four weeks. You may need to get antibiotics through the vein for four more weeks. However, theres no reason to think that Lyme disease stays in you forever after treatment.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

If youre going to spend time in an area that might have ticks, take measures to avoid being bitten. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to make it harder for ticks to bite. If you feel sick after being in an area that probably has ticks, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If your provider prescribes antibiotics, make sure you take all of them as instructed.

Should You Use Antibiotics

Lyme Disease: Our Story

Different antibiotics may be used to treat children and adults. The decision to take medicines for Lyme disease may be based on one or more of these factors:

  • You have symptoms of Lyme disease, especially the red, circular rash, and a history of exposure to ticks in geographic regions where Lyme disease is known to occur.
  • Blood tests show that you have antibodies to the Lyme disease bacteria in your blood, spinal fluid, or joint fluid.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding and are bitten by a tick.

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When To Call A Doctor

  • A tick is attached to your body and you can’t remove the entire tick.
  • You have a circular red rash that expands over the course of several days, especially if you know you were recently exposed to ticks. You may also have flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, stiff neck, fever, chills, or body aches.
  • You feel very tired or have joint pain , irregular heartbeats, severe headache, or neck pain.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding and you think you may have been exposed to ticks.

What Is Lyme Arthritis

Lyme arthritis occurs when Lyme disease bacteria enter joint tissue and cause inflammation. If left untreated, permanent damage to the joint can occur. Lyme arthritis accounts for approximately one out of every four Lyme disease cases reported to CDC. Because of reporting practices, this statistic may overstate the frequency of arthritis among patients seen in routine clinical practice.

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Chronic Lyme Disease Vs Acute And Late Stage Lyme

One reason chronic Lyme disease is harder to detect and treat than Lyme at earlier stages is that chronic Lyme disease symptoms are more wide-ranging and varied. Chronic Lyme disease can cause symptoms of early Lyme disease such as fatigue and muscle aches to recur, but it can also cause new symptoms that affect different parts of the body.

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Detecting Lyme Disease With Laboratory Tests

Longer-Term Therapy for Lyme Disease

Lyme disease diagnosis relies on clinical observations and laboratory tests for the presence of antibodies against the B. burgdorferi bacteria. Since it can take several weeks for antibodies to develop against the bacteria, lab tests help confirm the diagnosis. If Lyme disease goes undetected and untreated, the disease will continue to progress and symptoms may appear months after the tick bite. Some patients who have untreated Lyme disease are hospitalized because the bacteria can affect the brain, the nervous system and the heart.

The CDC recommends a two-step laboratory blood sample test to accurately diagnose Lyme disease. New tests are also being developed as alternatives to the two-step process but still require review and clearance from the Food and Drug Administration.

It is not always necessary to obtain a blood test to confirm early Lyme disease since the necessary protein antibodies in the blood that make a test positive may take many days to form. Thus, it is common to have a negative blood test early in infection. If a patient is at risk and might have an infection early, it is usually better to treat for Lyme disease rather than rely on a blood test. Blood tests are more helpful for late disease that may have gone untreated early in the infection course.

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Controversy: Split Over Treatment For Persistent Symptoms

Medical groups continue to disagree about the optimal approach if a patients symptoms persist after the initial antibiotic treatment. A recent Lyme disease overview summarizes the differing guidelines .

  • When patients have persistent or recurrent symptoms following recommended antibiotic treatment but no evidence of reinfection, further treatment is not recommended .
  • While other potential causes for persistent symptoms should be investigated first, additional antibiotics are recommended if a chronic Lyme infection is believed to be a possible cause for ongoing symptoms and the patient has an impaired quality of life .

Which Areas Are More Likely To Have It

The tick that causes Lyme disease has been moving from the Northeast and upper Midwest into the Southern and Western U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Cases in California and Florida are on the rise. After a drop between 2017 and 2018, the numbers jumped a little bit in 2019.

But most Lyme cases in 2019 were in 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New

Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Washington, DC, is also a hotspot.

In 2019, Pennsylvania had the most Lyme infections, with 6,763. New York was next, with 2,847 cases.

In the Southern U.S., where itâs hotter, ticks stay under leaves so they dont dry out. This means people donât get Lyme from Southern ticks very often because they dont usually come out to bite.

Even though people only report about 30,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year, there are actually around 476,000 a year. The same tick also can spread other diseases, including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus. Those diseases are also on the rise in the U.S.

Whoâs likeliest to get Lyme disease?

Boys up to age 15 and men between the ages of 40 and 60 are the most likely to get Lyme disease. Thatâs because they tend to play outside and go camping, hunting, and hiking.

Why are there more ticks now than there used to be?

There are several reasons why Lyme is spreading. Some of these are:

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Treatment Of Lyme Disease

Early diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease is important and can help prevent late Lyme disease. The following treatment regimens reflect CDCs interpretation of the most current data for four important manifestations of Lyme disease. These regimens are consistent with guidanceexternal icon published by the by the Infectious Disease Society of America, American Academy of Neurology, and American College of Rheumatology.

Some patients report persistent symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking even after treatment for Lyme disease. The state of the science relating to persistent symptoms associated with Lyme disease is limited, emerging, and unsettled.

Additional researchexternal icon is needed to better understand how to treat, manage, and support people with persistent symptoms associated with Lyme disease. In light of these research gaps, recommendations for treatment of persistent symptoms in people previously treated for Lyme disease are not provided here.

If you are interested in information on chronic Lyme diseaseexternal icon, see NIHs website.

Links with this icon indicate that you are leaving the CDC website.

What Is Lyme Disease And Where Does It Occur

Could Your Chronic Pain Be From Lyme Disease?
  • Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. It is spread through the bite of certain types of infected ticks.
  • It can cause serious illness in humans but can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
  • Cases have been reported in parts of Europe, Asia and throughout much of North America.
  • In British Columbia, the western blacklegged tick transmits Lyme disease while, in other parts of Canada, the disease is spread by the blacklegged tick, sometimes called the deer tick.

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Headaches Brain Fog Pain

For years, Reid experienced headaches, brain fog, pain and generally felt unwell.

I just knew that I was really sick, and I didnt know why, she explained. I was shuffled around to different departments and about a dozen different doctors, and I felt my symptoms were completely ignored.

Reid is an equestrian and enjoyed riding her horse on trails. As her symptoms worsened, she stopped competing and even eventually needed to stop working.

If I do a little bit today Im going to end up basically being on the couch all day tomorrow, she said. Not just because of physical pain. Yet, no one could explain her persistent ailments.

Headaches were the biggest . That was really what landed me at the doctors office and in the hospital, she said. I was experiencing a lot of brain fog and depression, unexplained allergies, pain and other puzzling symptoms and extreme fatigue.

Doctors never considered Lyme disease.

The biggest problem we see is that doctors dont believe theres Lyme disease in California or they think its so rare theyll never see a patient with it, despite the fact that its been here for decades, Wendy Adams, research grant director at Bay Area Lyme Foundation, told TODAY. Theres probably thousands of cases of Lyme disease each year in California, and so they will see Lyme disease cases. They just dont know theyve seen the disease.

Adams said its common that California residents receive a later diagnosis.

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