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Symptoms of Lyme disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease: Introduction

The symptoms of Lyme disease result from the reproduction and growth of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted by the bite of a tick that carries the bacteria. Symptoms vary between individuals and often, but not always, include the classic "bull's eye" lesion at the site of the infected tick bite. This lesion, called erythema migrans, begins as a round, red spot that grows larger and develops a normal skin-colored center. People who have Lyme disease may also have multiple lesions, which can also be solid red in color and not have the "bull's eye" center. The lesion or lesions may be painless

After appearance of the rash, other symptoms may develop, including fever, headache, swollen lymph glands (lymphedema) and/or muscle and joint pain. There may also be a general feeling of malaise and of not feeling well.

If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated promptly, it progresses to a more severe stage and spreads infection to other parts of the body, such as the nervous system and heart. This can result in potentially life-threatening complications, such as meningitis and cardiac arrhythmias. Symptoms of these complications can include high fever, intense headache, stiff neck, decrease consciousness, coma or abnormal heart rhythms. Eventually, Lyme disease also affects the joints of the body as well with chronic arthritis. Symptoms include severe joint swelling and pain....more about Lyme disease »

Symptoms of Lyme disease

The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for Lyme disease includes the 60 symptoms listed below:

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Lyme disease: Symptom Checkers

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Lyme disease: Symptom Assessment Questionnaires

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Lyme disease: Complications

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Diagnostic Testing

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Do I have Lyme disease?

Lyme disease: Medical Mistakes

Lyme disease: Undiagnosed Conditions

Diseases that may be commonly undiagnosed in related medical areas:

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Lyme disease?

The list of other diseases or medical conditions that may be on the differential diagnosis list of alternative diagnoses for Lyme disease includes:

Lyme disease: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Other Possible Causes of these Symptoms

Click on any of the symptoms below to see a full list of other causes including diseases, medical conditions, toxins, drug interactions, or drug side effect causes of that symptom.

Article Excerpts About Symptoms of Lyme disease:

NINDS Neurological Sequelae Of Lyme Disease Information Page: NINDS (Excerpt)

In its early stage, Lyme disease may be a mild illness with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain. Symptoms appear within 7 to 10 days following the infected tick's bite. Many people bitten by an infected tick develop a large, expanding skin rash around the area of the bite. The rash may feel hot to the touch, but is usually not painful. Rashes vary in size, shape, and color, but often have a "bull's eye" appearance (a red ring with a clear center). Nervous system abnormalities may include numbness, pain, weakness, Bell's palsy (paralysis of the facial muscles), visual disturbances, and meningitis symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, and severe headache. Other problems, which may not appear until weeks, months, or years after a tick bite, include memory or thinking difficulties or nerve damage in the arms and legs. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Neurological Sequelae Of Lyme Disease Information Page: NINDS)

Lyme Disease -- The Facts, The Challenge: NIAID (Excerpt)

In most people, the first symptom of Lyme disease is a red rash known as erythema migrans (EM). The telltale rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite. The spot expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular or ovalshaped rash. Sometimes the rash resembles a bull's eye, appearing as a red ring surrounding a clear area with a red center. The rash, which can range in size from that of a dime to the entire width of a person's back, appears within a few weeks of a tick bite and usually occurs at the site of a bite. As infection spreads, rashes can appear at different sites on the body.

Erythema migrans is often accompanied by symptoms such as fever, headache, stiff neck, body aches, and fatigue. Although these flu-like symptoms may resemble those of common viral infections, Lyme disease symptoms tend to persist or may occur intermittently.

Arthritis. After several months of being infected by B. burgdorferi, slightly more than half of those people not treated with antibiotics develop recurrent attacks of painful and swollen joints that last a few days to a few months. The arthritis can shift from one joint to another; the knee is most commonly affected. About 10 to 20 percent of untreated patients will go on to develop chronic arthritis.

Neurological Symptoms. Lyme disease can also affect the nervous system, causing symptoms such as stiff neck and severe headache (meningitis), temporary paralysis of facial muscles (Bell's palsy), numbness, pain or weakness in the limbs, or poor motor coordination. More subtle changes such as memory loss, difficulty with concentration, and a change in mood or sleeping habits have also been associated with Lyme disease.

Nervous system abnormalities usually develop several weeks, months, or even years following an untreated infection. These symptoms often last for weeks or months and may recur.

Heart Problems. Fewer than one out of ten Lyme disease patients develops heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat, which can be signalled by dizziness or shortness of breath. These symptoms rarely last more than a few days or weeks. Such heart abnormalities generally surface several weeks after infection.

Other Symptoms. Less commonly, Lyme disease can result in eye inflammation, hepatitis, and severe fatigue, although none of these problems is likely to appear without other Lyme disease symptoms being present. (Source: excerpt from Lyme Disease -- The Facts, The Challenge: NIAID)

Lyme Disease -- The Facts, The Challenge: NIAID (Excerpt)

Early Infection

  • EM Rash (erythema migrans)
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Early Disseminated Infection

  • Multiple EM lesions
  • Facial paralysis (Bell's palsy)
  • Meningitis
  • Radiculitis (numbness, tingling, burning)
  • Brief episodes of joint pain and swelling

Late Infection

  • Arthritis, intermittent or chronic
  • Encephalopathy (mild to moderate confusion)

Less Common Symptoms of Lyme Disease

  • Heart abnormalities
  • Eye problems such as conjunctivitis
  • Chronic skin disorders
  • Encephalomyelitis (limb weakness, motor coordination)
(Source: excerpt from Lyme Disease -- The Facts, The Challenge: NIAID)

Lyme Diagnosis: DVBID (Excerpt)

Lyme disease most often presents with a characteristic "bull's-eye" rash, erythema migrans, accompanied by nonspecific symptoms such as fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches (myalgia), and joint aches (arthralgia). (Source: excerpt from Lyme Diagnosis: DVBID)

Lyme Diagnosis: DVBID (Excerpt)

Some infected individuals have no recognized illness (asymptomatic infection determined by serological testing), or manifest only non-specific symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, and myalgia. Lyme disease spirochetes disseminate from the site of the tick bite by cutaneous, lymphatic and blood borne routes. The signs of early disseminated infection usually occur days to weeks after the appearance of a solitary erythema migrans lesion. In addition to multiple (secondary) erythema migrans lesions, early disseminated infection may be manifest as disease of the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, or the heart. Early neurologic manifestations include lymphocytic meningitis, cranial neuropathy (especially facial nerve palsy), and radiculoneuritis. Musculoskeletal manifestations may include migratory joint and muscle pains with or without objective signs of joint swelling. Cardiac manifestations are rare but may include myocarditis and transient atrioventricular blocks of varying degree. B. burgdorferi infection in the untreated or inadequately treated patient may progress to late disseminated disease weeks to months after infection. The most common objective manifestation of late disseminated Lyme disease is intermittent swelling and pain of one or a few joints, usually large, weight-bearing joints such as the knee. Some patients develop chronic axonal polyneuropathy, or encephalopathy, the latter usually manifested by cognitive disorders, sleep disturbance, fatigue, and personality changes. Infrequently, Lyme disease morbidity may be severe, chronic, and disabling. An ill-defined post-Lyme disease syndrome occurs in some persons following treatment for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is rarely, if ever, fatal. (Source: excerpt from Lyme Diagnosis: DVBID)

Questions and Answers About Lyme Disease: DVBID (Excerpt)

Within days to weeks following a tick bite, 80% of patients will have a red, slowly expanding "bull's-eye" rash (called erythema migrans), accompanied by general tiredness, fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, and joint pain. If untreated, weeks to months later some patients may develop arthritis, including intermittent episodes of swelling and pain in the large joints; neurologic abnormalities, such as aseptic meningitis, facial palsy, motor and sensory nerve inflammation (radiculoneuritis) and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis); and, rarely, cardiac problems, such as atrioventricular block, acute inflammation of the tissues surrounding the heart (myopericarditis) or enlarged heart (cardiomegaly). (Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers About Lyme Disease: DVBID)

Facts About Lyme Disease: CDC-OC (Excerpt)

Rash and flu-like symptoms in early, localized disease. Disseminated disease includes arthritis, carditis and neurologic disorders (Source: excerpt from Facts About Lyme Disease: CDC-OC)

Lyme disease as a Cause of Symptoms or Medical Conditions

When considering symptoms of Lyme disease, it is also important to consider Lyme disease as a possible cause of other medical conditions. The Disease Database lists the following medical conditions that Lyme disease may cause:

- (Source - Diseases Database)

Lyme disease: Onset and Incubation

Onset of Lyme disease: 3 days to a month.

Incubation period for Lyme disease: usually 7-10 days after tick bite; up to 4 weeks after tick bite.

Incubation period for Lyme disease: The incubation period from infection to onset of erythema migrans is typically 7 to 14 days but may be as short as 3 days and as long as 30 days. (Source: excerpt from Lyme Diagnosis: DVBID)

Medical articles and books on symptoms:

These general reference articles may be of interest in relation to medical signs and symptoms of disease in general:

About signs and symptoms of Lyme disease:

The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible signs and symptoms of Lyme disease. This signs and symptoms information for Lyme disease has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of Lyme disease signs or Lyme disease symptoms. Furthermore, signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of any signs or symptoms and whether they are indeed Lyme disease symptoms.


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