Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can cause very scary symptoms — from a rash and aches and pains to lasting neurological trauma, depending on how quickly the disease in caught and treated.
People who’d have Lyme disease can have very different experiences, some recovering quickly and completely, and some having to continue treatment of the disease their entire lives.
The trickiest thing about Lyme is that the symptoms are varied, and that not everyone experiences the same ones. What’s more, symptoms can appear anywhere from a few days to a few months after the actual tick bite, so nailing down the cause of Lyme symptoms is often very difficult. Numerous patients report going through several false diagnoses before realizing that they in fact have Lyme. This Lyme Disease Awareness Month, we’re spreading the word about how to spot this disease and get treatment to stop it from progressing.
So How Do I Know if I Have Lyme Disease?
The follow symptoms can point to Lyme disease. If you think or know you’ve been bitten by a tick, keep on the lookout and talk to your doctor if you feel you need to be tested for Lyme.
Nearly-Sure Sign of Lyme Disease
1. Bull’s-eye rash: The most well-known Lyme symptom is a rash that develops into a “bull’s-eye” shape, with a large ring encircling a center irritation. The rash is usually red and inflamed, but usually not itchy, and it usually appears at the site of tick bite, but could also appear on another part of the body. Sometimes the rash doesn’t even have the bull’s-eye shape.
Be aware that not everyone infected with Lyme sees the bull’s-eye rash, too. If you do see it, however, it is a very clear indicator that you’ve probably contracted Lyme.
Sensing a pattern? Nearly everything about Lyme disease can be different from person to person, which is why early detection can be so difficult.
Possible Early Signs of Lyme Disease
The more of these you experience together, the greater the chances are that you’ve contracted Lyme.
2. A tick bite: Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that ticks transmit when they bite. The blacklegged tick, or deer tick, most commonly carries Lyme. If you or your pets have been hiking in an area with ticks, check yourself and your pets, and remove any ticks. Talk to your vet and if possible, bring in the preserved tick for testing.
3. Flu-like symptoms: Symptoms like fatigue, fever, chills, headache, muscle pains, joint pains, and swollen lymph nodes can indicate Lyme.
Possible Later Signs of Lyme Disease
If you’ve progressed to these symptoms from any of the ones above, it’s likely that you could have Lyme and you should talk to your doctor.
4. Facial or Bell’s Palsy: A loss of muscle tone on one side of the face, or both sides, resulting in a “sagging” look, can be an indicator of Lyme.
5. Severe headaches and neck stiffness: An inflammation of the spinal cord (meningitis) due to Lyme can cause these symptoms.
6. Pain and swelling in the knees or other large joints
7. Shooting pains: These pains may even interfere with your sleeping.
Symptoms of Disseminated Stage Lyme Disease
These symptoms are some of the worse Lyme has to offer.
9. Severe joint swelling and pain
10. Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
11. Cognitive defects: Short-term memory problems, difficulty focusing, hallucinations
Help spread the awareness!
Share this with your friends and family, especially the outdoorsy types this summer, and stay on alert for the symptoms of Lyme disease.