Lyme disease symptoms

November 12, 2012

Lyme disease symptoms

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection passed to humans from infected ticks – tiny parasites found in woodland areas. A tick bite is often so tiny it goes unnoticed – the tick may remain locked onto its host for several days before finally dropping off. The risk of infection from a tick bite is increased the longer the tick remains in place gorging on the blood of its host.

Lyme disease is only transmitted by infected ticks and cannot be passed from one individual to another.

Lyme disease is a serious condition that may affect the skin, joints, cardiac system, and nervous system.

Lyme disease symptoms

When lyme disease symptoms first appear, there may be a pink or red rash, circular in shape, which may take as long as thirty days to appear – this rash is often likened to the bulls eye of a dartboard. Other early symptoms of Lyme disease include -

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Joint pain

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

If left untreated, lyme disease symptoms may worsen and trigger similar symptoms to those found in patients with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. These types of symptoms include pain and swelling of the joints and neurological symptoms such as temporary paralysis of facial muscles.

Late stage or chronic Lyme disease

Chronic Lyme disease can develop a long time after the initial infection has occurred and is more likely to develop if no treatment was sought at that time. Late stage Lyme disease may appear to develop rapidly and unexpectedly – this is particularly true where the initial bite and its symptoms were mistaken for something else entirely. Late stage lyme disease symptoms include the following –

  • Chronic pain
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Lyme arthritis that may cause swollen joints, this usually develops in the knees but may affect all of the joints in the body
  • Cardiac problems – commonly this manifests as pericarditis, or inflammation of the structures around the heart.
  • Nervous system problems – including memory loss and difficulty concentrating
  • The spread of the infection may cause sensory problems to develop
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Headaches that are difficult to treat
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Mood swings
  • Numbness and/or tingling in the feet, hands and back
  • Partial paralysis of the face

Diagnosis

Diagnosing Lyme disease is often problematic as lyme disease symptoms are so similar to those of other medical conditions, the classic ‘bulls eye’ rash makes early diagnosis easy, but once this disappears, it becomes more difficult. Some medical practitioners will order blood tests to be performed but whilst useful these do not always give a definite diagnosis of the disease.

Treatment

Lyme disease is generally treated with a course of antibiotics – depending on the stage of the disease the course can last anything up to four weeks. When the joints are severely damaged due to Lyme disease surgery may be recommended in order to remove or replace the damaged joint and its lining. There are a number of alternative treatment methods for Lyme disease and lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy, well balanced diet with a wide variety of foods will do much to speed recovery.

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