Lyme disease is a bacterial disease passed from tick bites to people, wildlife or pets. It is named after the first town the disease was discovered in – Lyme, Connecticut. If Lyme disease symptoms are not treated, they can worsen until the joints and heart are affected. Most cases of Lyme disease are curable with antibiotics if caught early enough.
Common Early Symptoms
The first symptoms appear about a week after a person gets bitten by an infected tick. The most common early phase Lyme disease symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Feeling as if he or she has the flu
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Body, muscle and joint aches
- Stiffness of the neck
- Fever which may or may not be accompanied with uncontrollable shivering
- Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw
But the most characteristic symptom of Lyme disease is a peculiar rash in the shape of a bulls-eye target. This rash first appears as a small bright red spot and gets larger over one or two weeks. Part of the rash fades, making it appear like a red ring encircling a red target spot. The rash may feel warm but usually is not itchy.
Common Later Symptoms
Fortunately, most people go to the doctor when they exhibit early Lyme disease symptoms, but some do not. The disease progresses, although there may be a period of weeks or months as the bacteria become dormant. But sooner or later, debilitating and painful symptoms emerge. These Lyme disease symptoms include:
- Skin rashes on other parts of the body
- Development of meningitis (stiff neck coupled with an excruciating headache and nausea)
- Swollen body joints like wrists, elbows or knees
- Sudden, intermittent pains all throughout the body that prevents a person from sleeping
- Sudden changes in heartbeat
- Dizziness from the heart problems
- Paralysis on one or both sides of the face, called Bell’s palsy.
Lyme disease can cause symptoms that last for years. These symptoms include increasing neurological problems, chronic shooting pains up and down the body, short-term memory loss and numbness or a pins and needles tingling sensation in the feet.
One difficulty in treating Lyme disease is that not everyone suffers from common symptoms. 25% of people with Lyme disease never show a bulls-eye rash, for example. Some uncommon Lyme disease symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of sex drive
- Breathing problems
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Anxiety attacks
- Chest pain due to changes in heartbeat
- Earache or tingling sensation in the ears
- Chronic buzzing sound in the ears, similar to tinnitus
- Sounds played at normal volume become painfully loud
- Learning difficulties or severe memory problems
- Testicular pain for men
- Chronic urinary tract infections
- Frequent migraines, with or without aura
- Vision problems such as double vision, seeing flashing lights that are not there, seeing a halo around everything or a black spot called a floater
- Chronic eye itchiness or soreness
- Crawling sensation on the skin when nothing is touching the skin.