300,000 new cases of Lyme disease are reported in the U.S. every year.
Lyme disease affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and though awareness of Lyme is rising there are still Lyme disease cases that go undiagnosed. Lyme disease and its coinfections can cause a multitude of symptoms many of which mimic or closely related to other conditions making Lyme, in some cases, very hard to identify. Most doctors are not explicitly trained to identify Lyme disease and they may confuse it with many other conditions or a patient might write off the symptoms as a cold or exhaustion and put off seeing the doctor until the bacteria has progressed and become stronger. Awareness and early detection are pivotal in fighting Lyme disease so we will cover some of the symptoms and signs to watch for so you can get the help you needed if infected with Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is often easily treatable with antibiotics if detected early but complications and more severe symptoms can develop the longer the disease goes undetected. Here is a list of 4 common symptoms of Lyme disease to help with identifying possible Lyme infections.
- The Bull’s Eye Rash- The most well-known symptom of Lyme disease is the bull’s eye rash. This rash looks like a target or a bull’s eye and usually develops from a week to a month after getting bit by a Lyme infected tick. This symptom is widely regarded as the biggest indicator of Lyme infection but it does not develop in all Lyme cases so don’t think of it as a perfect indicator of Lyme infection. The rash is usually warm to the touch but is not painful or itchy in most cases.
- Fatigue- Fatigue is the most common symptom and often develops soon after the tick bite. You can expect flue like symptoms and exhaustion that may subside for a little only to return soon after. One study found that up to 76% of Lyme patients reported fatigue so it is likely that you will experience exhausted if you have Lyme disease but not a sure thing. Lyme related fatigue may be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, depression, or chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Aches and Pains- One study found that two-thirds of Lyme disease patients felt episodes of joint pain within six months of being bit by a tick. Joint pain and stiffness are very common signs of Lyme disease infection, pain is often transient moving from one area to another and maybe sever one day and moderate the next. Joint pain and swelling of joints that comes and goes moving from one place to another may be an indication of Lyme disease.
- Neurological Problems- Lyme disease can enter the blood-brain barrier that protects our neurological system from attack and wreak havoc on our brains and neurological pathways. Patients with Lyme disease may experience trouble concentrating, memory loss, depression, anxiety, mood swings, or disorientation. These symptoms are often misdiagnosed as other neurological and autoimmune disease so see a Lyme literate doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms after being bit by a tick.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and have been recently exposed to ticks please contact a doctor. As I mentioned earlier not all doctors are trained to identify Lyme disease and it could be beneficial to see a Lyme literate doctor as Lyme can be a trick infection to diagnose. Contact the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) for a list of doctors in your area that is Lyme experienced.