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Lyme Disease

Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

August 29, 2023

It is very important to check for ticks after any outdoor exposure during warmer months to prevent Lyme disease.

Tick crawling on a green grass blade against an orange dandelion
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If you’ve been hiking in the woods and discovered a tiny black-legged tick on your skin, you might be concerned about a particular infection known as Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a potentially serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. If left untreated, chronic Lyme disease can lead to several health complications over the long term.

Knowing and spotting the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease could help you get prompt treatment to prevent it from worsening. One of the most common signs of Lyme disease is a circular rash. However, Lyme disease can cause other symptoms that affect various parts of the body and vary in severity.

Read on to learn about the early and late-stage symptoms of Lyme disease, as well as getting the right treatment.

Early Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease generally develops in three stages. Early symptoms of Lyme disease can occur within 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. Some localized early symptoms of Stage 1 Lyme disease include:

  • Circular rash: This is a characteristic rash that appears at the site of the tick bite in about 70% to 80% of infected individuals. It typically starts as a small red spot, gradually expanding and forming a circular or oval pattern. The rash may be warm but is usually not painful or itchy.
  • Flu-like symptoms: Lyme disease can cause a variety of flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms can make differentiating Lyme disease from other illnesses challenging, especially if no rash is present.

Early disseminated symptoms of Stage 2 Lyme disease can arise weeks to months after a bite. These symptoms may include:

  • Facial paralysis: The second stage of Lyme disease can lead to facial paralysis. This can result in one or both sides of the face appearing droopy or losing muscle function temporarily.
  • Cardiac symptoms: In some cases, early Lyme disease may affect the heart, causing inflammation of the heart muscle, chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Meningitis: Meningitis can occur when the bacteria that causes Lyme disease attacks the brain or spinal cord, leading to symptoms like vision changes, weakness and severe headaches.
  • Joint pain and swelling: Particularly in large joints like the knees, pain, swelling, or stiffness may occur. This condition, also known as Lyme arthritis, can last for varying periods and cause significant discomfort.

Late-Stage Symptoms

Late-stage Lyme disease symptoms can develop months or even years after an infected tick bite. As the bacteria spreads throughout the body, the infection can cause severe and persistent symptoms, affecting various systems, such as the joints and nerves.

  • Arthritis: Late-stage disease may cause more severe arthritis symptoms, such as excess amounts of fluid predominantly affecting the knees and other large joints. Swelling may lead to pain and stiffness.
  • Neurological issues: Untreated Lyme disease can lead to neurologic dysfunction, including difficulty concentrating, memory problems and muscle weakness.
  • Nerve problems: During this stage of Lyme disease, a person may experience numbness, pain or tingling in their hands or feet.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has been bitten by a tick, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and care. It’s especially important to seek treatment and guidance from a healthcare provider if you notice any of the early signs or symptoms of Lyme disease.

Getting the Right Treatment

Diagnosing Lyme disease is the first step to receiving the right treatment. It typically involves checking for the telltale signs and symptoms as well as the history of potential exposure to ticks. Blood tests may be conducted to detect disease-fighting antibodies to the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Treatment options for Lyme disease involve the use of antibiotics, which generally lead to recovery within two to four weeks. In some cases, lingering symptoms may persist even after successful treatment, a condition known as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. However, timely treatment can help prevent complications and reduce the risk of long-term health problems.

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We hope you steer clear of ticks but if you are diagnosed with Lyme disease, Inside Rx is here to help save you money on your treatment and get you one step closer to feeling better.