Every summer, people trade in winter clothes for shorts and head outside. But that means the possibility of tick bites, which also means the possibility of Lyme disease. So as summer approaches, it’s a good time to learn about some common Lyme disease symptoms.
After all, Lyme disease can be a very serious condition that leads to a lifetime of debilitating symptoms. Treating it early is the best way to limit the amount of suffering someone with Lyme disease has to experience. So, what is Lyme disease exactly? And what are the most common Lyme disease symptoms?
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a dangerous condition spread by the bite of a specific kind of tick, the blacklegged tick. Though not every tick bite can cause Lyme disease, certain ticks can be infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and their bites can spread the disease. But the ticks that spread Lyme disease are located in a few specific areas rather than nationwide. And in fact, 95% of reported Lyme disease cases in 2015 came from just 14 states.
Lyme disease itself has to be treated early or it will progress to what’s called the “chronic stage,” which is significantly harder to treat. The symptoms of chronic Lyme disease are similar to the early symptoms of Lyme disease but recur frequently over, leading to a kind of ebb and flow of symptoms.
Early stage Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. But as the disease progresses into the chronic stage, antibiotics become less effective. That means catching the disease early is the most important thing when it comes to treatment, which means recognizing the symptoms of Lyme disease as early as possible is vital to treatment. And while Lyme disease symptoms can vary widely, there are a few things to look out for.
10 Common Lyme Disease Symptoms
There are a number of different Lyme disease symptoms. And not everyone with Lyme disease will experience the same ones. But if you experience more than one of these symptoms after a tick bite, it is probably worth having a doctor evaluate you. The best way to treat Lyme disease and prevent it from becoming worse is to detect and treat it early.
- Rash– The most obvious symptom of Lyme disease is the distinctive rash that develops around the site of the tick bite. The rash is frequently described as looking like a “bullseye,” because it consists of a central red dot and then a ring surrounding it. Typically, the rash develops within a week or so of the bite and it can be painful and warm to the touch or completely.
- Fever– Like any bacterial infection, Lyme disease causes a fever. The fever is a result of your immune system trying to fight off the infection and is a good sign when combined with the other symptoms that you have Lyme disease.
- Fatigue– As Lyme disease progresses to the chronic stage, it frequently causes chronic fatigue. This can become quite debilitating to people who suffer from it.
- Headache– Another prominent feature of chronic Lyme disease is that it frequently causes serious headaches. And frequent headaches are a sign of Lyme.
- Neck Pain– Chronic Lyme disease often causes a stiff and aching neck. It might be difficult to move your neck and the stiffness can become more or less severe depending on how bad your symptoms are that day.
- Sleep Issues– In addition to the chronic fatigue, Lyme disease can also lead to insomnia. That’s partly because of the pain and high fever that Lyme disease causes, but also partly because Lyme disease seems to also disrupt your sleeping patterns.
- Arthritis– Someone who suffers from Lyme disease also frequently experiences pain in the joints. And there are many cases of people who develop arthritis after they are infected with chronic Lyme disease.
- Muscle Pain– Along with pain in the joints, Lyme disease can also lead to pain in the muscles. This pain can spread all over the body and leads to stiffness and a difficulty using the limbs.
- Facial Palsy– One of the rarer Lyme disease symptoms is facial palsy, which is a condition that causes the muscles in the face to relax involuntarily. This often leaves one side of the face with a drooping appearance and can make speech difficult.
- Heart Arrhythmias– Lyme carditis develops when the bacteria that causes Lyme disease begins to infect the muscles lining the heart. As a result, the heart becomes weaker and the tissue of the heart becomes stiffer. That makes it hard for the heart to beat normally. As a result, it will sometimes produce something called “arrhythmias,” which are sudden flutters in the beating of the heart as it struggles to pump blood normally. This condition can occasionally be life threatening, and so should be treated as early as possible.
So if you plan to spend a lot of time outside anytime soon, it’s good to keep these symptoms in mind. And make sure to use insect repellent to prevent tick bites. It’s the best way to avoid Lyme disease. But let us know, do you have Lyme disease? Do you worry about the symptoms? Tell us in the comments.