Lyme Disease

Is brought on by a tick bite, early localized stage (3-30 days post-tick bite,) a person can expect red, expanding rash called erythema migrans (EM), fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Untreated the infection can spread from the site of the bite and cause additional EM lesions, facial or Bell’s Palsy, severe headaches, neck stiffness due to meningitis, pain and swelling of large joints (such as knees,) interference of sleep due to pain and heart palpitations and dizziness from changes in heartbeat.

How do We Treat?

Many of these symptoms will resolve over a period of weeks to months, even without treatment. However, lack of treatment can result in additional complications.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an infectious disease. It is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. B. burgdorferi is transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected black-legged or deer tick. The tick becomes infected after feeding on infected deer or mice.

A tick has to be present on the skin for 24 to 48 hours to transmit the infection. Most people with Lyme disease have no memory of a tick bite.

Lyme disease was first reported in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. It’s the most common tick-borne illness in Europe and the Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and Northern Midwest of the United States. People who live or spend time in wooded areas are more likely to get this illness. So are people with domesticated animals that are let out in wooded areas.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease occurs in three stages: early localized, early disseminated, and late disseminated. The symptoms you experience will depend on which stage the disease is in.

Stage 1: Early Localized Disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease start one to two weeks after the tick bite. One of the earliest signs is a “bull’s-eye” rash. This is a sign that bacteria are multiplying in the bloodstream. The rash occurs at the site of the tick bite as a central red spot surrounded by a clear spot with an area of redness at the edge. It may be warm to touch, but it isn’t painful and doesn’t itch.

This rash will disappear after four weeks. The formal name for this rash is erythema migrans. Erythema migrans is said to be characteristic of Lyme disease. However, many people don’t have this symptom. Some people have a rash that is solid red. On people with dark complexions, the rash may resemble a bruise.

Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease

Early disseminated Lyme disease occurs several weeks after the tick bite. Bacteria are beginning to spread throughout the body. This stage is characterized by flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • chills
  • fever
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • sore throat
  • vision changes
  • fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • headaches

There is a general feeling of not being well in this stage. A rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite. Neurological signs such as numbness, tingling, and Bell’s palsy can also occur. This stage of Lyme disease can be complicated by meningitis and cardiac conduction disturbances. The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.

Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease

Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasn’t been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. This stage is characterized by:

  • severe headaches
  • arthritis of one or more large joints
  • disturbances in heart rhythm
  • brain disorders (encephalopathy) involving memory, mood, and sleep
  • short-term memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • mental fogginess
  • problems following conversations
  • numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet

Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

(information obtained from http://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease)