Lyme disease can be hard to get…until you get it. This is because Lyme disease looks different on everybody and looks like different diseases. You see, Lyme is too often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or the worst of them all, “it’s all in your head.”
Because there are so many varying symptoms of Lyme disease, it can be hard to pinpoint Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme, as the reason why you don’t feel well. Borrelia burgdorferi is known for its unique spirochete shape, Round Bodies, and Biofilm Colonies, making it able to infect multiple parts of the body, multiply, and become resistant to antibiotics.
In a world where you must advocate for your own health, it is important to educate yourself about Lyme disease so that you can evaluate how to best treat your crippling immune system, inflammation, and so on.
Keep reading to learn about the many symptoms of Lyme disease.
Early Symptoms of Lyme
The early symptoms of Lyme usually occur 3 to 30 days after a tick bite and are referred to as “flu-like symptoms.”
More specifically, these flu-like symptoms are:
- General nausea
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Stiff Neck
- Chills or Fever
- Bullseye rash (known as erythema migrans)
- Cognitive decline
These symptoms can be very general, which is why it can be so hard to determine if you’ve been infected with Lyme disease. When these symptoms last longer than normal, you’ll know something is wrong. Catching Lyme early is your best chance at avoiding or minimizing Chronic Lyme symptoms. If you can identify a tick bite by checking yourself for ticks, or if you can identify a bullseye rash early on, you have a much higher chance of ridding yourself of Lyme disease.
A bullseye rash, known as erythema migrans, is a circular red rash that appears as a bullseye shape or solid circle. Usually within the first week or so, a rash will appear as a clear indicator that you’ve been bitten by a tick. However, only half of people recall a bullseye rash.
The rash is more than just redness but does not usually itch or cause pain. Size and placement can vary, as well, spanning between two and twelve or more inches and appearing at the site of the tick bite.
These rashes can last for months, and be the beginning of other rashes developing.
Catching the symptoms of Lyme disease early and getting proper treatment is the best way to minimize the effects of lingering symptoms and Chronic Lyme disease. Some people aren’t as lucky, though, and that is when the real trouble with Lyme begins.
Symptoms of Chronic Lyme
Symptoms of Chronic Lyme, or as some doctors refer to as “PLDS (Post/Persistent Lyme Disease Symptoms),” are the lasting symptoms that cause chronic pain and discomfort.
These symptoms are what people are referring to when speaking about their experience with the devastating and debilitating effects of Lyme disease. One of the scariest things about Chronic Lyme is that symptoms can manifest themselves long after a tick bite and cause damage to your body. Many people do not experience the typical bullseye rash, nor do they experience flu-like symptoms.
Otorhinolaryngologic Symptoms of Lyme
Otorhinolaryngologic symptoms refer to the symptoms that affect the ear, nose, throat, base of the skull, head, and neck. Some of these symptoms may overlap with neurologic symptoms.
Lyme can cause:
- Bell’s Palsy
- Eye inflammation
- Facial Twitching
- Head and neck dysesthesia (abnormal sensations of scalp)
- Vertigo (Sensation that environment around you is moving)
- Dysgeusia (Taste disorder)
- Swollen Lymph Nodes (Cervical lymphadenopathy)
- Jaw pain (temporal mandibular joint pain)
- Tingling nose, cheeks, and face
- Stiff neck
- Sore throat
- Decreased hearing
- Ear ringing or buzzing (Tinnitus)
- Sound sensitivity
- Pain in the ears (Otalgia)
Learn more about the Otorhinolaryngologic symptoms of Lyme.
Neurologic & Psychiatric Symptoms of Lyme
According to the CDC, neurologic symptoms of Lyme disease occur when the Borrelia burgdorferi affects the peripheral or central nervous systems.
These neurological symptoms impact many of the psychiatric symptoms, as well, affecting the mind and causing unusual behavior in Lyme patients.
Neurological and Psychiatric Symptoms of Lyme are as follows:
- Bell’s Palsy
- Nerve Pain
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Sleep disorders
- Irritability/ mood swings
- Rage or aggression
- Obsessions and/or compulsions
- Attention and focus problems
- Antisocial behavior
- Hallucinations/ Formication (feelings of itchiness/bugs crawling on you)
- Brain fog
- Confusion or memory problems
- Executive functioning problems
- Getting lost
- Communication problems
- Processing difficulties
- Developmental disorders
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Cognitive impairments
Learn more about the extensive neurological and psychiatric symptoms of Lyme.
Hormonal Effects of Lyme & Toxins
The effects of Lyme disease on the Endocrine (Hormonal) System aren’t talked about as frequently but can have a huge impact on your health and well-being.
As a result of Lyme disease, these symptoms can occur:
- Decreased levels of magnesium
- Hormonal imbalance/ Abnormal hormone levels due to inflammation
- Infected liver/ Hepatitis
- Thyroid gland/tissue that gets attacked by the immune system
- Decreased testosterone
Of course, your hormones affect so many aspects of your health, such as your reproductive health, mood, and efficacy of other body systems.
Learn more about how Lyme affects your hormones.
Cardiovascular Symptoms of Lyme
- Lyme carditis
- Syncope (temporary loss of consciousness due to lack of blood flow to the brain)
- Heart block
- Heart palpitations
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
- Air hunger
Learn more about Lyme carditis and the cardiovascular symptoms of Lyme.
Gastrointestinal Symptoms of Lyme
The gastrointestinal symptoms of Lyme are usually due to Lyme triggering other intestinal diseases, inflammation in the gut, or as a result of antibiotic use. Plus, Lyme affects the immune system, and about 80% of your immune system is located in your gut!
Gastrointestinal symptoms of Lyme look like:
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Abdominal Discomfort
- Triggered Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
Learn more about the connection between the gut and Lyme disease.
Lyme & Inflammation
Inflammation is how the body responds to infections, such as Borrelia burgdorferi. Every symptom stated is either caused as a result of the infection itself, or is a response to an immune system that attacks itself, causing inflammation.
The most talked about consequence of Lyme inflammation is Lyme arthritis. Approximately 60 percent of patients with untreated Chronic Lyme disease will develop Lyme arthritis as a result of this inflammation.
This list identifies the more specific symptoms and results of Lyme and inflammation:
- Joint pain
- Muscle discomfort
- Interstitial cystitis (IC)
- Triggered autoimmune diseases
- Eye inflammation
- Weakened Immune System
- Overload of toxins
- Mouth sores
- Adrenal Fatigue
Learn more about Lyme and Inflammation.
As you can see, there are more Lyme symptoms than we can keep up with. Each year we continue to learn more about the debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease and how people are living with it. It is not uncommon to learn about those with co-infections, in addition to Lyme, as well as those with mold toxicity and multiple diagnoses. The most difficult things for us to read about are the lack of compassion from healthcare professionals, the lack of answers they have about Lyme disease, and the lack of success you’re having with treatment.
If you believe you have any of these symptoms, please consider getting tested for Lyme disease and getting on a treatment plan that works for you.
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