When To See A Healthcare Provider
Since Lyme disease can take different forms, and since its often confused with other conditions, its important to be proactive if you suspect the condition. What signs prompt medical help? Call the healthcare provider if:
- You have a bullseye rashor any kind of rashfollowing a tick bite.
- You experience flu-like symptoms after a tick bite.
- You experience symptoms of more advanced Lyme disease: arthritis, heart palpitations, facial paralysis, dizziness, and others.
Studies Revealing The Suicide/mental Health Risks Of Lyme And Co
In a large retrospective study of nearly 7 million subjects, U.S. and Danish researchers report that patients who received a hospital diagnosis of Lyme diseaseinpatient, outpatient, or at the ERhad a 28 percent higher rate of mental disorders and were twice as likely to have attempted suicide post-infection, compared to individuals without the diagnosis.
Studies like these show that undertreated Lyme disease can lead to serious mental illness, and that it should be a differential diagnosis for certain patients with sudden-onset depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental disorders. Read more here, here, and here.
Printable List Of Lyme Disease Symptoms And Signs
Lyme disease is a Multi-Systemic Disease caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi which normally is a bacterial spirochete shape. General Early Lyme disease Symptoms & Signs: Erythema Chronicum Migrans also called the Bulls Eye Rash, at bite site. Rash only found in 50% of patients. Other Types of Rashes anywhere on the body . Fever & Flu like Symptoms/Illness.
Lyme disease is a Multi-Systemic Disease caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi which normally is a bacterial spirochete shape.
General Early Lyme disease Symptoms & Signs :The Erythema Migrans rash is only found in 50% of patients at the site of the bite. The classic bulls eye rash is a type of EM rash that has a central clearing and is found in about 9% of cases. Some patients have no rash at all. Other types of rashes anywhere on the body signals disseminated disease. Fever & Flu like Symptoms/Illness.
Musculoskeletal: joint pain or swelling or stiffness, muscle pain, shin splints, neck or back stiffness, migrating muscle pain or cramps, TMJ, neck creaks & cracks, tender soles.
Reproductive: testicular pain/pelvic pain, menstrual irregularity, unexplained milk production , sexual dysfunction or loss of libido.
Cardiac/Pulmonary: Chest pain or rib soreness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, pulse skips, slow pulse, heart block, heart murmur, valve prolapse.
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What Tests Are Available For Lyme Disease
When a person becomes infected, the body creates antibodies to protect itself from the bacteria. Certain blood tests are available to measure these antibodies. However, sometimes a “false negative” test can result if there are not enough antibodies in the blood for the tests to detect accurately. A doctor should also do a complete medical examination and gather information about your recent outdoor activities in order to make a clinical diagnosis for Lyme disease.
Signs Of Recent Progress In The Lyme Disease World
By Kris Newby, Invisible International
Its easy to dwell on the negative with Lyme disease. Forty-seven years after discovery of the first case cluster in Lyme, Connecticut, there are still no reliable tests or effective vaccines on the market. Among those patients who are treated promptly, about a third go on to suffer from persistent symptoms.
But its important to keep things in perspective. Incremental progress is being made, albeit slowly. Theres a growing acknowledgment of the magnitude of the Lyme problem in the medical system, the government, and the media.
New diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics are finally working their way out of basic research labs and into clinical validation studies. Invisibles mission is to accelerate progress on all these fronts.
Here are 10 signs of progress for the Lyme disease community:
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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.
Recognition Of The Dangers Of Mixed Tick
When several university labs started gene sequencing and cataloging all the disease-causing microbes inside ticks, they discovered that polymicrobial infections transmitted through a single tick bite are far more common than previously thought.
In the U.S., there are at least 18 disease-causing bacteria and viruses carried by ticks. And new studies have found that the standard U.S. Lyme testing doesnt detect the newly recognized Lyme-like bacterial species spreading in the West and Midwest.
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Later Signs Of Lyme Disease
What if Lyme disease isnt detected early on? The longer that disease-causing bacteria linger in the body, the more they disseminate, and as these microbes spread to tissues throughout the body, they can trigger a litany of symptoms. CDC says these may include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes. These lesions may pop up on other areas of the body
- A type of facial paralysis known as Bells palsy
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling. Knees and other large joints are vulnerable
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Nerve pain
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
You might have persistent or episodic symptoms, says Dr. Green. Pain that seems to move through the body? Thats common too. The hallmark of late Lyme is migratory joint pain: today my right knee hurts and tomorrow Im limping on my left ankle, and, oh, my third finger of my right hand swelled up, and, oh, my neck has swelled up, she says.
In rare cases, Lyme disease bacteria can enter the tissues of the heart. This complication, called Lyme carditis, can lead to lightheadedness, fainting, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or chest pain.
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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.
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What Is Chronic Lyme Disease’
There is no agreed definition of the term âchronic Lyme diseaseâ among doctors so it can mean different things to different people. Some people use the term chronic Lyme disease to describe a range of non-specific symptoms including chronic tiredness and unexplained neurological symptoms, even when there is no evidence of past or current Lyme disease infection.
The non-specific symptoms overlap with those of several other conditions including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which can be triggered by common infections such as the glandular fever virus, and more recently COVID-19.
- Grandma on cancer care has ‘NINE appointments cancelled’ – and ‘hasn’t seen her consultant since 2019’
Who Gets Lyme Disease
Anyone bitten by an infected deer tick can get Lyme disease. Most U.S. cases of Lyme disease happen in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. But Lyme disease is found in other parts of the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia too.
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Strong Evidence Of Active Lyme Infections After Treatment
A recent spate of research studies show that Lyme disease symptoms can persist after recommended treatment protocols, challenging the widely held belief that Lyme disease can always be cured with a short course of antibiotics.
Acknowledgement that chronic Lyme is a real medical condition is the first step in justifying the development of more effective treatments for both early and late stages of the disease. A summary of this evidence can be found in here.
Lyme Disease Symptoms Also Occur In Other Diseases
Many Lyme symptoms, such as fatigue, cognitive impairment, joint pain, poor sleep, mood problems, muscle pain, and neurological presentations also occur in other diseases. Hence, the symptoms of Lyme disease significantly overlap those of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons disease, ALS, depression and Alzheimers disease. Many Lyme patients report being misdiagnosed with a different condition before being properly diagnosed with Lyme disease.
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New Therapeutic/treatment Options On The Horizon
A relatively new technology called high throughput drug screening enables researchers to place Lyme bacteria in an array of tiny wells and expose them to thousands of FDA-approved chemical compounds and drugs to see which ones are best at killing the microbes. The best and safest drug candidates are then retested in live mice, and, eventually, in humans. This process saves the time and money associated with large human clinical trials and speeds up the regulatory approval process.
What Is The Outlook For Someone With Lyme Disease
Most of the people who get Lyme disease and treated early will be fine.
Even after proper treatment, some patients may experience lingering fatigue, achiness or headaches. This does not signify ongoing infection and will not respond to additional antibiotics. The majority of people in this group will have symptoms resolve over the next 1-6 months.
Chronic Lyme Syndrome
Chronic Lyme syndrome is a term used by some that includes the symptoms of Post-Lyme syndrome outlined above. This is a controversial topic with no accepted etiology and no proven cause or association.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Humans
Tick bites are frequently never felt. Only 25-30% of United States patients with early stages of the disease can recall the tick bite. The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease depend upon the three stages of the infection, which are:
The first two stages are part of the early infection, whereas persistent disease is considered a late infection.
Symptoms in stage-1 Lyme disease
This stage occurs one to 30 days after the tick bite and comprises of the following symptoms:
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.
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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.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Lyme Disease Or Other Tick
Recommendations on preventing ticks include these from AKCs Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein:
- Inspect your dogs and yourself daily for ticks after walks through the woods or grassy settings. On dogs, look especially on the feet , on lips, around eyes, ears , near the anus, and under the tail.
- Remove ticks stat. The quicker you find them the less likely your dog will contract a secondary illness related to tick bites. Learn the proper method of tick removal. Invest in a pair of fine tweezers used for this purpose. If you are unable to do so, consult with a veterinarian.
- Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam. Theyll be able to find any you may have missed.
- Prevent ticks from jumping on your dog with one of the many veterinary-approved flea and tick preparations available on the market. Speak to your veterinarian to find the best and most appropriate product for your dog.
- Keep grass mowed as short as possible. Refrain from walking into grassy patches in endemic tick areas if you can.
- Get your dog vaccinated. Vaccination could prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease. They may not be appropriate for some dogs, so discuss with your vet.
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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.
When Should You See A Doctor If You Think You Have Lyme
The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. Take a photo of the rash and see your doctor. At this stage, treatment with antibiotics will probably work.
If you don’t have the rash but have symptoms like fatigue, fever, and headache but no respiratory symptoms like a cough, you may want to talk to your doctor.
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Who’s At Risk And Where Are Ticks Found
The risk of getting Lyme disease is higher:
- for people who spend time in woodland or moorland areas
- from March to October because more people take part in outdoor activities
Ticks are found throughout the UK and in other parts of Europe and North America. There are a high number of ticks in the Scottish Highlands.
It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and speak to a GP if you start to feel unwell.
What Are The Symptoms
Many body systems can be affected by Lyme disease. Symptoms vary from person to person and can come and go. Symptoms are generally classified into early or late. Early symptoms occur days to weeks after a person becomes infected. Early symptoms include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, headache, stiff neck, chills, fever, or swollen lymph nodes
- Paralyzed muscles of the face
- Palpitations or disturbances of heart rhythm
- An expanding rash called erythema migrans, or EM. The EM appears 1-30 days after the bite of an infected tick, expands over a one to two week period, and then disappears. More EMs, not necessarily at the site of the tick bite, can show up later. The EM is usually painless. The EM varies in shape and appearance. On dark skin the EM can look more like a bruise. The EM is not present in some people, or it may occur on a part of the body that is difficult to see
Painful redness that occurs less than 24 hours after a tick bite and does not expand is more likely to be a local allergic reaction to the tick’s saliva. These symptoms can disappear without treatment but the infection may still be present. If early Lyme disease symptoms are not recognized and treated adequately, the disease may progress and be more difficult to treat.
Late symptoms occur weeks, months, or years after becoming infected. Late symptoms may be the first sign of Lyme disease in some people. Late symptoms include:
Diagnosis and Treatment
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