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.
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:
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:
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: