Know the signs of Lyme disease

June 19, 2017 | by Sivakami Krishnan, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

The first indication you may have Lyme disease probably won’t be the bug bite.

Lyme disease is transmitted by tiny ticks. They’re so small, you probably wouldn’t even feel their bite.

If the tick transmitted Lyme disease, however, you may start to feel like you have the flu. You might even notice a bullseye-shaped rash on your skin.

If you see a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic. Get a pair of tweezers and follow these directions from the Centers for Disease Control to remove it.

Then, watch for symptoms of illness.

The CDC offers this comprehensive list of symptoms of Lyme disease, which first start 3 to 30 days after a tick bite:

  • Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash:
    • Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
    • Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days (average is about 7 days)
    • Expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across
    • May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
    • Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance
    • May appear on any area of the body
    • See examples of EM rashes

If Lyme disease isn’t treated, the symptoms can progress. In the days to months after the tick bite, the CDC reports that you may experience:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints
  • Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
  • Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints and bones
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
  • Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Nerve pain
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Problems with short-term memory

People with Lyme disease are often treated with antibiotics, which completely clears up the disease in most cases.

If you suspect you may have contracted Lyme disease, see your doctor as soon as possible to begin treatment.

Learn ways to prevent Lyme disease.

Need a doctor? Search our Healthy Driven doctors by specialty, location, or by next-available appointment.

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