Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterial illness transmitted to humans by ticks. In the northeastern and north central United States the deer or bear tick is usually responsible for transmitting the disease whereas on the Pacific Coast it is usually the black-legged tick. The symptoms can appear quickly or gradually over time and the first physical signs of the infection are often similar to the flu, which is why so many people, including doctors, often dismiss the symptoms as the flu or the common cold.
Many people do not know the signs or symptoms of Lyme Disease and how it is transmitted. To help, we have compiled some additional information on Lyme Disease and developed a Lyme Disease symptoms checklist of potential Lyme Disease symptoms for you to reference in case you think you might be showing some signs of infection. Use the checklist below and make sure you consult with your doctor.
First, before delving into our chronic Lyme Disease symptoms checklist, we would like to share more information on how people get Lyme Disease. People get Lyme Disease from tick bites and because these ticks are so tiny (about the size of a poppy seed) people usually do not even see them until they have already attached to the skin and are biting the person. Also, ticks usually attach to a more hidden area of the body like the groin, armpits or scalp and the bites are typically painless. The length of time that a tick can stay attached to your body varies; but the longer a tick stays attached, the higher the chance of it transferring the disease into the bloodstream. In particular, according to Lymedisease.org, pregnant women need to be extra cautious since if affected, they can sometimes pass Lyme Disease to their unborn children and in a worst case scenario, the disease can cause stillbirth.
In terms of geographical reach, Lyme Disease can be found in many areas. Specifically in the United States, Lyme Disease usually does not occur nationwide and is concentrated mainly in the Northeast and upper Midwest areas. The CDC’s Data and Statistics webpage illustrates a list of the 14 states that Lyme Disease has been previously reported. In fact, the CDC estimates that “300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease in the US every year” and that it is the “fifth most common Nationally Notifiable diseases in the US”. Even more surprising, this disease occurs “1.5 times more than the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times more than the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year” in the US (CDC). Lyme Disease is also found in a large portion of Asia, Europe and South America.
Lyme Disease affects people of all ages from small children to older adults. Specifically, firefighters and park rangers need to be extra vigilant as they have a higher exposure to ticks because they spend a lot of time outdoors. The CDC also provides great tips on preventing tick bites including avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass, walking in the center of a trail, using repellants that contain 20%-30% DEET.
In terms of Lyme Disease symptoms, it is important to know that they occur in different phases. In general, early signs and symptoms, which can occur anywhere from 3 to thirty days after the tick bite, can be divided into two main categories: flu-like symptoms and a rash. People may have symptoms that are very similar to the flu such as fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches and headache. Others may have an Erythema Migrans (EM) rash that is shaped like a bull’s-eye or Bell’s palsy (facial drooping). According to our friends at the Mayo Clinic, anywhere from 3 to thirty days after an infection, an expanding red area might appear which can spread up to 12 inches across. However, the CDC notes that many people develop different patterns of Lyme rash or have none at all, so these are not hard and fast rules, which is another reason why it is hard to diagnose or find. For example, a CDC report on Lyme Carditis found that “only 42% of cases had a rash on their bodies”. In order to distinguish Lyme Disease rashes from their look-alikes, check this page on the CDC website.
Most cases of early Lyme Diseases detection can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics taken by mouth. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), some of the antibiotics that can be used to treat the disease are doxycycline, amoxicillin, ceftriaxone. However, if Lyme Disease is not diagnosed and is left untreated, the infection can evolve into a ‘chronic’ form and can spread to other parts of the body like joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Later signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include joint pain, neurological problems, nausea, and diffuse rashes appearing on various areas of our bodies. According to the CDC, it is also notable how the symptoms of Lyme Disease significantly mimic those of other diseases such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. For this reason many Lyme patients are often initially misdiagnosed by doctors as having a chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis and other psychiatric illness, including depression. In order to be properly diagnosed with Lyme Disease and to receive adequate treatments, there should be a continuous check on the progress of the your symptoms.
At Care+Wear, we have compiled a list of Lyme Disease symptoms for you. You can see the following chart below. And please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your own downloadable checklist! Please note that we have divided them into two main categories: severity and frequency of symptoms. Also, various symptoms are placed under different parts of our body systems including ears, eyes, reproduction, respiratory, digestive and nervous systems. In addition, symptoms of general well being, mental capabilities and psychological states are also included in this checklist. However, it is important to note that our Lyme Disease checklist is not meant to be used as a sole diagnosis tool, but it is provided to streamline the office interview with your doctors and help in diagnosing the symptoms.You can also learn more about chronic lyme disease through lymedisease.org or by clicking here.
Also, if you develop any illness within a few days or weeks of a tick bite, you should visit your health care provider right away and be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when you were bitten, and where you most likely got the tick bite. Moreover, you should try your best to remove the tick as quickly as possible and to not wait for it to detach by itself. (You can check the CDC’s page that provides the detailed steps required to remove a tick safely and effectively).
|Checklist of Lyme Disease Symptoms: The following are symptoms associated with Lyme Disease. Please check all that apply and consult with your doctor. Please always contact a doctor in case of an emergency and note that this is not an exhaustive list, just a guideline.|
|Current Severity||Current Frequency|
|Symptom or Sign||None||Mild||Moderate||Severe||Never||Occasional||Often||Constant|
|Head, Face, Neck|
|Neck stiffness, cracks, pain|
|Unexplained weight gain/loss|
|Difficulty with multitasking|
|Continual infections (kidney,yeast)|
|Increased sensitivity to allergies|
|Loss of sex drive|
|Menstrual pain, irregularity|
|Testicular or pelvic pain|
|Shortness of Breath|
|Extra Heart beats, pulse skips|
|High or low blood pressure|
|Frequent bruising of skin|
|Abdominal pain/ Bloating|
|Frequent need to urinate|
|Upset stomach, vomiting|
|Pain in ears|
|Double or blurry vision|
|Eye pain, pressure in eyes|
|Dry, tearing eyes|
|Vision loss, blindness|
|Memory loss (short or long term)|
|Poor school/work performance|
|Distrubed Sleep cycle|
|Confusion, Brain fog|
|Tremors or unexplained shaking|
|Numbness in parts of body|
|Poor balance, dizziness|
|Alternation warm/cool sensations|
|Low body temperature|
|Visual,auditory or odor hallucination|
|Benign tumor-like nodules|
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