What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an illness transmitted through the bite of an infected black-legged tick, or deer tick, as they’re more commonly known. Deer ticks, which are brown and about the size of a poppy seed when young, are tough to spot and thrive in grassy and heavily wooded areas. For a person to contract Lyme disease, the tick must bite and stay attached for 36-48 hours, allowing enough time for the bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Lyme disease occur in phases. Initially, a small red bump appears at the site of the bite. This is common for all tick bites and doesn’t necessarily indicate Lyme disease. However, Lyme disease symptoms tend to progress within about a month. Those with the disease often develop a rash in a "bull's eye" pattern 3 to 30 days after being bitten. Typically, the rash doesn’t itch or hurt, and it can develop on one or multiple sites on the body. Flu symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, aches and headache can also occur.

If Lyme disease goes untreated, further symptoms may unfold. The rash may spread over the body, different types of rashes may begin to develop and there may be severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees. Neurological issues can also arise, including inflammation surrounding the brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of the face (Bell’s palsy) or weak/numb limbs and impaired movement. Nausea and vomiting can also occur.

Less common signs and symptoms may include irregular heartbeat, eye inflammation, liver inflammation (hepatitis), severe fatigue and more.

If you find a tick on your body, remove it as soon as possible to increase your chances of preventing infection. If you think you may have contracted Lyme disease, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Lyme disease can be treated more effectively when it's caught early. Even if your symptoms come and go, that doesn’t mean the disease has gone away. Lyme disease can spread within the body over the course of months and years, so it’s best to get it checked out as soon as possible.

You can prevent Lyme disease by avoiding woody, bushy and grassy areas where deer ticks live. If you find yourself unable to do so, be sure to wear long sleeves, long pants, a hat and gloves when in these types of areas. Use an insect repellant with a 20 percent or higher concentration of DEET. Keep ticks out of your yard by keeping leaves raked and keeping your woodpile in a sunny area.

If you'd like to learn more about Lyme disease and whether you're at risk, book a visit with one of the primary care providers at Goshen Health.

 

Posted: 6/01/2016 by Goshen Health
Filed under: healthy adults, healthy eating, healthy kids, healthy lifestyle, wellness awareness

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