Do I Have Lyme Disease? A Lyme Disease Checklist to Help You Learn More

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 wecare@careandwear.com 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                
Painful teeth                
Difficulty swallowing                
Sore throat                
Hair Loss                
Scalp rash                
General Well‐being                
  Extreme Fatigue                
Unexplained weight gain/loss                
Difficulty with multitasking                
Continual infections (kidney,yeast)                
Night sweats                
Fevers                
Increased sensitivity to allergies                
Headaches                
Reproduction                
  Loss of sex drive                
Menstrual pain, irregularity                
Breast/nipple pain                
Testicular or pelvic pain                
Respiratory/Circulatory                
  Shortness of Breath                
Chest pain                
Extra Heart beats, pulse skips                
Heart Attack/block                
High or low blood pressure                
Frequent bruising of skin                
Coughing                
Digestive/Excretory                
  Diarrhea/Constipation                
Abdominal pain/ Bloating                
Irritable bladder                
Frequent need to urinate                
Upset stomach, vomiting                
Anorexia                
Ears, Hearing                
  Decreased hearing                
Buzzing/ringing sound                
Sound sensitivity                
Pain in ears                
Eyes, Vision                
  Double or blurry vision                
Eye pain, pressure in eyes                
Light sensitivity                
Dry, tearing eyes                
Vision loss, blindness                
Mental Capabilities                
  Memory loss (short or long term)                
Attention/Concentration problems                
Speech difficulty                
Forgetfulness                
Stuttering speech                
Poor school/work performance                
Psychological                
  Mood swings,Irritability                
Unusual depression                
Anxiety attacks                
Insomnia                
Paranoia,suspiciousness                
Low self‐esteem                
Aggression                
Obsessive‐compulsive behavior                
Distrubed Sleep cycle                
Neurologic                
  Confusion, Brain fog                
Tremors or unexplained shaking                
Numbness in parts of body                
Lightheadedness, fainting                
Poor balance, dizziness                
Alternation warm/cool sensations                
Low body temperature                
Visual,auditory or odor hallucination                
Skin                
  Benign tumor-like nodules                
Rash                

 

 



3 Responses

Lillian Schaeffer
Lillian Schaeffer

August 11, 2016

This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that Lyme disease can cause flu-like symptoms and a rash. My husband and I went on a camping trip about a week ago, and now he’s not feeling well. I thought it was the flu, but there’s also a rash, so I think it might be Lyme disease. We’ll definitely look into visiting a professional to see what can be done to fix it. Thanks for the great post! http://www.drsoloway.com/default.aspx?id=22

Amanda Goodridge
Amanda Goodridge

April 22, 2016

I have almost all those symptoms but it got worse since my total hip replacement. I am 38 and had the hip replacement to better my life and family which is 4 wonderful boys and a patient husband. I am worse now then I was before. My house is a disaster and I can’t get out of bed and when I do I try to not go to bed because I feel worse every time I get up. Will I get better?

Karen
Karen

April 13, 2016

Over 25yrs. ago I had meningitis in hosp. 10days with unusual type as Drs. scratched their heads. If only would had put doxy in my IV would have saved my life so to speak. Been a lifetime of misery since I can check many of those boxes 1 time or another. I happened to find in some old records I asked for. 3 positive Lyme tests never told about. Also a Dr. in Fl. ran test had 2 very pos. bands. He ignored would not report even though have found meaning did have 2 times this happened. No help until 1 ID doc I requested 15+ yrs. too late gave me 6wk. pic line. I actually the last week herxed big time. All treatment was stopped not even enough to let me get better. I have lost everything family, jobs, my extremely active life style (so to speak MY LIFE), including my love life. Will be too old to appreciate once they help us. Arghhhh. Through it all have done best to stay positive & work for cure for others.

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