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.
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Timing: Months to years after a tick bite
The infection can spread to the joints or contribute to altered brain function, a condition known as encephalopathy.
Common symptoms of late disseminated Lyme disease include:
Arthritis with joint pain, warmth, and swelling that may be constant or come and go. Lyme disease-related arthritis typically occurs in one joint, usually the knee or another large joint, though it can also occur in more than one joint.
Concentration issues, brain fog, and memory issues
Nerve pain that feels like tingling, numbness, burning, or stabbing in the hands and feet
Anxiety, depression, mood swings, and other neuropsychiatric issues
Sleep disturbances such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, need for extended sleep, or unrefreshing sleep.
You may also experience a worsening of earlier Lyme disease symptoms.
In some people, Lyme disease can cause debilitating fatigue and sleep disturbances . Lyme disease-related arthritis typically occurs in a large joint like the knee .
Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
Most people with Lyme disease get the infection during the late spring, summer and early fall when immature ticks are out feeding. In warm climates, few tick bites take place during winter months.
Deer ticks are most often found in wooded areas and nearby grasslands. Theyre especially common where the two areas merge, including neighborhood yards where deer occasionally roam. Ticks dont survive long on sunny lawns. They dry out quickly and die.
Although only about 1% of all deer ticks carry Lyme disease-causing bacteria, there are areas in which over 50% of the ticks carry the bacterium. The diseased ticks are often found in the U.S. Northeast and upper Midwest areas. Ticks also live in coastal areas.
Black-legged ticks can get the infection from animals other than deer. Mice, voles and some squirrels can carry the bacteria.
How can I prevent tick bites?
The following tips can help you avoid tick bites:
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Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Timing: Weeks to months after a tick bite
In early disseminated Lyme disease, the infection has started to move beyond the site of your tick bite to other parts of your body such as your heart, brain, or spinal cord. Lyme disease that has moved to the brain is sometimes referred to as Lyme neuroborreliosis, or neurological Lyme disease.
Common symptoms of early disseminated Lyme disease include:
More than one EM rash
Pain that may come and go and move around the body, in joints, tendons, muscles, and bones
Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord , which can cause severe headache, neck stiffness, and sensitivity to light and sound
Numbness, weakness, or tingling in the arms and legs
Weakness or drooping on one or both sides of the face difficulty closing an eyelid
Inflammation of the heart that can cause heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, or fainting. If you are experiencing any of these heart symptoms, seek immediate medical care.
You may also experience a worsening of earlier Lyme disease symptoms.
Lyme disease can cause joint pain , a stiff neck , or weakness or drooping on one or both sides of the face, known as facial palsy .
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.
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Study Shows Evidence Of Severe And Lingering Symptoms In Some After Treatment For Lyme Disease
In a study of 61 people treated for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that fatigue…
In a study of 61 people treated for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that fatigue, pain, insomnia and depression do indeed persist over long periods of time for some people, despite largely normal physical exams and clinical laboratory testing.
Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is a real disorder that causes severe symptoms in the absence of clinically detectable infection, says John N. Aucott, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center.
The findings, published in the December issue of Frontiers in Medicine, could spur further investigation into the cause of persistent symptoms, a source of medical controversy. As Lyme disease rates have steadily climbed in the United States since it was first recognized in the mid-1970s, so have reports of a collection of symptoms that patients commonly refer to as chronic Lyme disease. Experts in the field have questioned the validity of this term because of the lack of direct evidence in this group of patients of ongoing infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Other Johns Hopkins researchers who participated in this study include Alison W. Rebman, Ting Yang, Erica A. Mihm, Mark J. Soloski and Cheryl Novak.
Major Symptoms Of Chronic Lyme Disease
Chronic Lyme disease may have a variety of symptoms that can be easily confused with fibromyalgia, autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome, psychosomatic illness, or mental health issues. Unfortunately, without proper diagnosis and treatment, chronic Lyme disease gets worse over time and people with chronic Lyme may never recover without adequate treatment.
It is critical that if you experience the following symptoms, you work with a doctor that is well-versed in chronic Lyme disease so you can receive the right diagnosis, get started with proper treatment, relieve your symptoms, and recover from the condition. Major symptoms of chronic Lyme disease that you need to pay attention to may include but not limited to:
- Other chronic health issues
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Why Lyme Becomes Chronic
When theres ongoing disruption of immune system communications, Lyme disease becomes chronic. Sometimes the microbes themselves are the primary culprits it would be to their advantage to maintain a few hijacked WBCs, which keeps the immune system slightly off balance and allows these stealthy pathogens in tissues to persist. But most of the time, there are other factors present that contribute to disrupting immune system communications, too.
Suppose a person infected with Borrelia or other microbes is stressed to the max and not sleeping. On top of that, the persons house is contaminated with mycotoxins from mold , they eat more processed food than fresh, and they dont get much if any exercise. All of these factors stress, exposure to environmental toxins, poor dietary habits, and a sedentary lifestyle disrupt immune system communications.
Ultimately, a compromised immune system cant take care of its typical responsibilities, including removing old and abnormal cells, repairing tissues and cell structures that have been damaged by free radicals, and purging toxins. The body starts breaking down and microbes in tissues begin to flourish, generating inflammation and causing symptoms. Chaos ensues in the body.
- Gastrointestinal or digestive dysfunction
Through years of clinical practice and personal experience, Ive discovered that herbal therapy offers solutions to chronic Lyme disease that arent found in conventional medicine alone.
Lyme Disease Symptom Basics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , Lyme disease symptoms typically show up 3 to 30 days after a bite from an infected tick. These early-stage symptoms may include any of the following:
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Bulls eye rash, also known as erythema migrans, starting at the site of the tick bite and expanding gradually over several days
However, not all of these symptoms show up in all patients. For example, the bulls eye rash only shows up in 25-50% of patients . When it does show up, it may not have the classic bulls eye shape, or it may appear on a part of the body that is not easily seen. Yet some doctors dismiss a patients concerns of Lyme disease unless the patient presents with a bulls eye rash.
Patients and physicians should be aware that the absence of any of the above symptoms does not mean a patient does not have a Lyme infection or other tick-borne disease. In fact, if a patient is aware that theyve been bitten by a tick but does not have symptoms yet, the IGeneX T-cell test can be used to detect disease within the first month of infection.
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Check Yourself And Your Pets Regularly
One of the best ways to avoid Lyme disease is to make sure that you find and remove ticks as quickly as possible. The less time a tick has access to your skin, the less chance of infection you face. This is what makes checking for ticks so vital particularly when youve visited the areas in which they thrive.
Diligence is essential to protecting yourself from tick bites and Lyme disease, as well as the co-infections that come with them. If you can prevent a tick bite from ever happening, then you wont have to worry about the symptoms, testing or healing process involved in Lyme recovery. However, if you do suffer from Lyme disease, then hopefully this article will help with some guidance you need to battle through the infection successfully.
What Other People Saw
All this was going on behind the scenes, but this is what the outside world saw: When I showed up to my kids’ school without makeup, it was because I felt like I had glass in my eyes. People had hurt feelings when I passed up dinner invitations, not knowing it was because I was terrified that I would get sick with nausea at the table. One time when I did go to our good friends’ house for dinner and I had just one glass of wine, I got so sick with fatigue and nausea that it put me to bed for a week.
My neighbors didn’t know that instead of chatting with them at the bus stop, I was lying in bed trying to conserve enough energy to greet my girls and get them an after-school snack. When I signed up as a mystery reader at the girls’ elementary school, I came home and crashed for several days in bed, dead to the world. At church, no one could see my migraines, my fluttering heart, my constipation, or my weird rashes. After going on a family road trip, I spent the next two months in bed.
Once, at a party, I shared my story about living with chronic Lyme disease with a woman, and when I finished, she said to me, “Well, thank goodness they got to the bottom of what was causing all your symptoms. And thank God it’s not one of the bad ones.” It stopped me dead in my tracks. I wanted to punch her and cry at the same time. It hurts when people don’t take me seriously because they say I “look so good” or “don’t look sick.”
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How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
Lyme Disease Symptoms: Common Signs Rare Signs And Misconceptions
Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, can cause a variety of non-specific symptoms that can make it tricky to diagnose especially as the infection progresses. In the following article, learn the most and least common Lyme disease symptoms, how the disease can change over time, and more.
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Growing A Successful Career While Coping With Chronic Lyme
On my Sales Game Changers Podcast, I frequently interview people who have successful careers while battling chronic illness such as Lyme disease.
Adrienne Volpe is one such person. During her 30-year battle with chronic Lyme disease, shes been able to continue having a thriving career in commercial real estate in upstate New York. She is also a published author.
But it hasnt been easy.
Even her path to being diagnosed with Lyme disease was a challenge.
How Long Do Lyme Disease Symptoms Last Do You Ever Get Rid Of Lyme Disease What If Symptoms Persist After Treatment
Its important to remember that up to 20% of those diagnosed and treated early will continue to have symptoms. This means that even if you have undergone treatment, you could still have Lyme disease. Keep track of all symptoms and share with your healthcare provider.
It remains unclear why some patients, despite antibiotic treatment, continue to experience persistent symptoms of Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases. Possible explanations include persistence of antibiotic-tolerant bacteria, autoimmunity triggered by prior infection with the Lyme bacteria, or perhaps co-infection with other tick-borne pathogens. These mechanisms of chronic disease are not mutually exclusive.
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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.
SINCLAIR STAMMERS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/263611/view
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.
Legal Mandates To Cover Unproven Treatments
The state of Connecticut, meanwhile, enacted a law on June 18, 2009, “to allow a licensed physician to prescribe, administer or dispense long-term antibiotics for a therapeutic purpose to a patient clinically diagnosed with Lyme disease.” The states of Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maine, and Iowa have similar laws.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island have laws mandating insurance coverage for long-term antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease when deemed medically necessary by a physician. In 1999 Connecticut had passed a similar, though somewhat more restrictive law.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Lyme Disease Treatments
Antibiotics, like all medications, have the potential for side effects. Any antibiotic can cause skin rashes, and if an itchy red rash develops while on antibiotics, a patient should see their physician. Sometimes symptoms worsen for the first few days on an antibiotic. This is called a Herxheimer reaction and occurs when the antibiotics start to kill the bacteria. In the first 24 to 48 hours, dead bacterial products stimulate the immune system to release inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that can cause increased fever and achiness. This should be transient and last no more than a day or two after the initiation of antibiotics.
The most common side effect of the penicillin antibiotics is diarrhea, and occasionally even serious cases caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile. This bacterial overgrowth condition occurs because antibiotics kill the good bacteria in our gut. It can be helpful to use probiotics to restore the good bacteria and microbiome balance.
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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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.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/16/2022.
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