Stages

Lyme disease occurs in three stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. However the stages can overlap and not all patients go through all three. A bull’s-eye rash is usually considered one of the first signs of infection, but many people develop a different kind of rash or none at all. In most cases, Lyme symptoms can start with a flu-like illness. If untreated, the symptoms can continue to worsen and turn into a long-lived debilitating illness.

bullseye rashStage 1: Early Localized Disease

Symptoms may begin hours, a few days or even weeks after a tick bite. At this point, the infection has not yet spread throughout the body. Lyme is the easiest to cure at this stage. Symptoms may include:

  • skin rash, which may or may not look like a bull’s eye
  • flu-like illness, including chills and fever
  • fatigue
  • headache and stiff neck
  • muscle soreness and joint pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • sore throat

Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme

Early disseminated Lyme may occur several weeks or months after the tick bite. Bacteria are beginning to spread throughout the body. In addition to flu-like symptoms, this stage is often characterized by increase in symptoms such as:

  • chills
  • fever
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • pain, weakness or numbness in the arms, legs
  • vision changes
  • heart problems, such as palpitations, chestpain
  • rash may appear on body
  • facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy)

Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease

If Lyme’s isn’t promptly or effectively treated in the first two stages, late disseminated Lyme occurs weeks, months or even years after the tick bite. The Lyme bacteria have spread throughout the body and many patients develop chronic arthritis as well as an increase in neurological and cardiac symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • arthritis in joints or near the point of infection
  • severe headaches or migraines
  • vertigo, dizziness
  • migrating pains that come and go in joints/tendons
  • stiff, aching neck
  • sleep disturbances, insomnia
  • disturbances in heart rhythm
  • mental fogginess, concentration issues
  • numbness in the arms, legs, hands or feet
  • problems following conversations and processing information
  • severe fatigue
Diagnosis >

The diagnosis of Lyme disease should be a clinical one, based upon symptoms, medical history, tick exposure and evaluation of test results.
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Testing >

To get the most accurate blood testing results possible, ask your physician to use both the ELISA and Western Blot tests.
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Co-Infections >

In addition to Lyme disease, ticks can carry an array of co-infections
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