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.
Can You Have Lyme Disease Without Knowing
The Lyme test came back positive. Greene is one of many people who dont notice early signs of Lyme disease, brush off the symptoms, or whose medical providers missed the symptoms, which often include fever, headache, fatigue, and a bulls-eye skin rash called erythema migrans, considered the hallmark of the disease.
How Can Pet Parents Prevent Canine Lyme Disease
Testing is required to diagnose a case of Lyme disease in dogs. Your veterinarian will use a blood test to confirm the presence of antibodies associated with the disease. Keep in mind that it takes at least four weeks for these antibodies to show up on a test. If your dog has recently suffered a tick bite, a test administered in the first four weeks wont offer any indication of whether your dog has Lyme disease or not.
Veterinarians will combine this test with their own physical evaluation of your dog when making a diagnosis. Once a positive test is confirmed, your dogs vet will likely prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria at the root of their condition, although specific treatment protocols may depend on the health of your dog.
Even if your dog has been diagnosed with Lyme disease in the past, your veterinarian may recommend vaccination to prevent additional cases of Lyme disease in the future. This vaccination is performed in two phases, with an initial vaccination and another booster administered several weeks later. It is recommended that dogs receive an annual booster to maximize the efficacy of the vaccination. Beyond a vaccine, you can take other preventative measures by giving your dog preventative tick medications, as well as checking them regularly for ticks latched onto their skin. The risk of contracting Lyme disease increases the longer a tick is attached, so prompt identification and removal will reduce the likelihood of canine Lyme disease.
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Can Your Body Fight Lyme Disease On Its Own
If left untreated for months or longer, some proportion of those infected end up with significant cognitive, neurological, and cardiac problems. Not everyone gets this sick in fact, its possible in some cases forthough not safe to rely onthe bodys immune system to fight off Lyme disease on its own.
What Is The Prognosis Of Lyme Disease
Prognosis is excellent and most patients recover completely, especially if treated early with appropriate antibiotics. Sometimes a recurrent infection can occur with certain strains, but Lyme disease can be managed well with medication. Co-infection by other organisms transmitted by the same tick bite can occur.
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Early Localized Lyme Disease Symptoms
The most telltale sign of Lyme is a rash , which occurs at the site of the tick bite. This rash occurs in 70 to 80% of patients.
On average, the rash shows up one week after the tick bite. But it can appear as early as 3 days or as late as 30 days after the bite.
The rash may feel warm but is usually not itchy or painful. The red patch will expand over several days and can grow as big as 12 inches across. The classic Lyme rash eventually takes on a bulls-eye shape with a red circle in the middle and an outer red ring.
Since the bulls-eye shape doesnt always appear, watch out for any circular or oval rash that gradually expands.
The 20% to 30% of people who dont develop a rash may notice other symptoms in the first month. These include chills, headache, low energy, sore muscles and joints, and swollen lymph nodes.
These initial symptoms and rash are the bodys first immune response to a foreign bacteria. This is why, beyond the typical rash, the symptoms are non-specific and can resemble any flu-like illness.
Some Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms
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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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease is often more challenging to identify in dogs than in humans, primarily due to the lack of a rash. While humans typically develop a characteristic bullseye rash around the location of the tick bite causing the infection, dogs dont develop this rash. Instead, behavioral cues are used to identify canine Lyme disease.
Those symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
- Lameness in one or more parts of the body
- Stiffness or pain in one or more parts of the body
- Swollen joints
- Overall loss of energy
While tick bites are the cause of Lyme disease, the development of symptoms takes place much later than the initial bite. Your dog may not show symptoms of Lyme disease until two to five months after being infected. The signs of Lyme disease in dogs can also bear similarities to the symptoms of other health conditions. For this reason, its crucial that dog owners seek out a veterinary diagnosis if they suspect their pet has canine Lyme disease.
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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.
How Do You Get Rid Of Chronic Lyme Disease
Although most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with a 2- to 4-week course of oral antibiotics, patients can sometimes have symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that lasts for more than 6 months after they finish treatment. This condition is called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome .
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Risk Factors For Post
Youre at a greater risk for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome if youre infected by the bite of a diseased tick. If the infection progresses to the chronic stage, your symptoms might continue for weeks, months, or even years after the initial tick bite.
You may also be at a higher risk for these long-term symptoms if youre not treated with the recommended antibiotics. However, even people who receive antibiotic therapy are at risk. Because the cause of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is unknown, theres no way to determine whether it will progress to the chronic stage.
Typically, the symptoms of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome resemble those that occur in earlier stages. People with persistent symptoms often experience lingering episodes of:
Warning Signs Of Untreated Lyme Disease In Dogs
Both humans and dogs are susceptible to a bacterial illness known as Lyme disease. The illness, which is transmitted by certain species of ticks, can create a number of health complications throughout the body, especially when left undiagnosed and untreated.
Identifying the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs can be more complicated than with humans, though, due to the different ways the illness may affect your pets health and produce symptoms. But identifying Lyme disease is crucial to getting your dog effective treatment for this condition. Avoiding doing so may lead to rare but serious health complications that may affect your dogs quality of life or even put their life at risk. Take a few minutes to educate yourself on the common Lyme symptoms in dogs, and what you can do to treat and prevent this condition.
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Stage : Early Localized Lyme Disease
Stage 1 or early localized Lyme disease occurs 128 days following a tick bite.
Some people with stage one Lyme disease do not experience any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include the following:
- a skin rash that may or may not resemble a bulls-eye
- flu-like illness, including chills and a fever
- swollen lymph nodes
A Long Journey Of Pain And Misdiagnosis
Tait estimates that she had Lyme for about 15 years before she was diagnosed. She thinks she was bitten by a tick as a teen in Californias Bay Area, where she grew up. In high school, she was a dancer. Suddenly she was getting injured more than usual joints coming out of their sockets and ligaments tearing after doing normal routines. During class, she was exhausted and having trouble concentrating. Her grades started to slip.
Looking back, its now clear I was neurologically starting to not be myself, she said. But when youre a teenager, a lot of it is just attributed to, Youre a teenager!
Tait, who was thin with a bubbly personality, recalled one doctor telling her she was too pretty to be sick.
Eventually she was diagnosed with depression and prescribed an antidepressant.
In college, Tait started to experience seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy.
My fatigue was getting worse, she said. I was dropping out of classes left and right and I would get sick constantly. Thats where this weird sort of self-fulfilling prophecy came in: I was depressed. But I wasnt sick because I was depressed. I was depressed because I was sick.
But once they put epilepsy down , at least I had turned a corner where they had a label on something, Tait continued. Then would just add things You have fibromyalgia and you probably also have chronic fatigue syndrome. But they didnt tell me how to fix it. Everything was, Try antidepressants because we dont really know.
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Symptoms Of Untreated Disseminated Lyme Disease
If left untreated, the bacteria will usually spread throughout the body in the weeks or months following the bite. This is known as disseminated Lyme or late Lyme disease. And it can lead to more serious symptoms.
The symptoms of disseminated Lyme are widespread, as the bacteria can affect multiple organs and systems in the body. A person with disseminated Lyme may notice additional rashes. These can occur anywhere in the body, not just at the initial bite.
Muscle and joint issues are also common in the later stages of untreated Lyme disease. Soreness or arthritis pain that comes and goes in the muscles and joints are common. Some may experience facial palsy, a weakness in the facial muscles that leads to drooping on one or both sides.
In disseminated or late Lyme disease, the bacteria can affect the heart, brain, and nervous system. People may experience heart palpitations, an irregular heartbeat, and shortness of breath.
Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord can occur. This can also lead to headaches and confusion, as well as numbness, tingling, and nerve pain.
The symptoms of disseminated Lyme disease can last for several months. The good news is that Lyme disease is treatable at any stage.
Dr. Jesus Alberto Cardenas-de la Garza et al. . Clinical spectrum of Lyme disease. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases. Link
CDC. Lyme Disease: What you need to know. Link
CDC. Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. Link
The Numbers On Chronic Lyme
Because Lyme disease is commonly missed or misdiagnosed, statistics vary on how many Lyme patients go on to experience chronic symptoms. The following research nonetheless paints a basic picture of the problem.
- An estimated 5-20% of patients may have chronic symptoms after getting Lyme disease, according to the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
- The treatment failure rate for chronic Lyme disease patients was estimated at 26-50% in 2004, compared to 16-39% for early Lyme patients, according to Lymedisease.org.
- Up to 15-40% of late-stage Lyme patients develop neurological disorders, which are responsible for many common symptoms of chronic Lyme disease.
Experts dont know for sure why some people experience persistent symptoms, even with treatment. However, some believe the Lyme infection may trigger an auto-immune response that manifests in the chronic symptoms detailed below.
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Chronic Lyme Dos And Don’ts
Chronic Lyme disease is an ongoing Borrelia burgdorferi infection that can involve any body system or tissue. The infection produces a wide range of symptoms and signs, which can be debilitating for some patients. Common symptoms include severe fatigue, migratory musculoskeletal pain, headaches, and impaired memory. Unfortunately, chronic Lyme disease is complex and often misunderstood, which means that many patients will struggle to obtain the care they need to regain their health. Every patient concerned about Lyme disease and tick-borne illness should know the following.
Why Is Lyme Disease So Difficult To Diagnose
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of infected deer ticks. One common symptom of Lyme is a red rash on the skin , that appears at the site of a tick bite usually within a week, but up to a month later. Some people may not experience a rash, or may mistake it for a spider bite. Other symptoms like fever, chills, headache, fatigue, joint aches and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of a rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If Lyme is not diagnosed immediately, the bacteria start to spread to other parts of the body the joints, the nervous system and the heart. Eventually, arthritis sets in, along with extreme fatigue and general aches and pains. These can also be symptoms of other conditions, which is part of the reason why Lyme is difficult to diagnose. Aside from the initial rash, there are no symptoms that are specifically indicative of Lyme disease.
Theres also no definitive way to test for Lyme disease. There is no direct blood test for the bacteria that causes Lyme. Doctors have to rely on antibody tests, which merely measure the immune systems response to the bacteria. Further complicating matters, studies have shown that those tests arent always accurate and can have poor sensitivity and false results in some cases.
Until a foolproof test exists, diagnosing Lyme disease, especially late-stage Lyme, is an imperfect science.
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How Do You Know If You Have Chronic Lyme
Chronic Lyme disease is an ongoing Borrelia burgdorferi infection that can involve any body system or tissue. The infection produces a wide range of symptoms and signs, which can be debilitating for some patients. Common symptoms include severe fatigue, migratory musculoskeletal pain, headaches, and impaired memory.
How Many Years Can Lyme Disease Lay Dormant
Lyme disease can remain dormant for weeks, months or even years. When symptoms do eventually develop, they can be severe and patients often need aggressive treatment. Intravenous treatment is often required to treat late-stage infection. Late-stage treatment can last many months as seen in other infections as well.
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In this blog, you will learn:
- What the signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease are
- How Lyme Disease is diagnosed
- Why it is important to get a correct diagnosis so that treatment can be targeted and effective
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What is Lyme Disease ?
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia is a bacterium that is transmitted by an infected black-legged tick. It is most commonly spread by a tick bite. The disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first identified in 1975 in the US.