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Lyme Disease Symptoms: Identifying Common Signs to Watch For
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Lyme Disease Symptoms: Identifying Common Signs to Watch For

Common Lyme Disease Symptoms You Should Watch For

Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi as well as Borrelia mayonii. It is transmitted to humans through black-legged tick bites. 

Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to a successful recovery. It is critical to take preventative measures in areas where Lyme disease is common.

In this blog, we’re diving deep into the world of Lyme disease. Join us as we explore the Lyme disease symptoms and treatment strategies to help you understand its rashes and look-alikes and how Lyme disease is transmitted.

How Lyme Disease is Transmitted 

In general, ticks need to be attached for 36 to 48 hours before transmitting Lyme disease bacteria. Most people are infected by immature ticks called nymphs.

Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see. Most cases of human illness occur in the late spring and summer when the tiny nymphs are most active and human outdoor activity is at its highest.

Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacteria. They are much larger and more likely to be discovered and removed. Adult ticks bite during the fall.

Other Transmission Modes 

So if you want to know how Lyme disease is transmitted, here are some of the most common transmission modes to be aware of.

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  • From person-to-person: There is no evidence that Lyme disease is transmitted from person to person. People cannot get infected by touching, kissing, or having sex with a person with Lyme disease.

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  • During pregnancy and while breastfeeding: Lyme disease acquired during pregnancy may cause a placenta infection and a possible stillbirth, as long as the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment, the fetus is not negatively affected. There are no reports of Lyme disease transmission through breast milk. 

It is imperative to note that Lyme disease symptoms may occur in infants whose mothers were infected during pregnancy. Infants should be monitored closely for signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.

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  • From pets: Although dogs and cats can get Lyme disease, there is no evidence that they spread the disease directly to their owners. Pets can bring infected ticks into your home or yard. Consider protecting your pet, and possibly yourself, through tick control products for animals.

 What are Lyme disease symptoms?

Untreated Lyme disease can produce many symptoms, depending on the infection stage.

Early Signs and Symptoms (3 to 30 Days After Tick Bite) 

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These symptoms can include:

  • A characteristic rash with Lyme disease called erythema migrans.
  •  Fever 
  • Headache 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle and joint pain 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 

Erythema migrans is a reddish or purple rash that commonly appears 3–14 days after a tick bite. It typically appears at the site of the tick bite and expands gradually over several days.

Common sites are the thighs, groin, trunk, and armpits. However, it is important to note that not all rashes that occur at the site of a tick bite are due to Lyme disease. An allergic reaction to tick saliva can also be mistaken for Erthema migransan. Most allergic reactions to tick saliva occur within a few hours of the bite. However, they usually do not expand and disappear within a few days.

Later Signs and Symptoms (days to months after a tick bite) 

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Some signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks or months after a tick bite. 

  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees and other large joints. 
  • Nervous system symptoms can include numbness, pain, facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face), and meningitis (fever, stiff neck, and severe headache). 
  • Rarely, heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat
  • Memory or concentration problems, fatigue, headaches, and sleep disturbances sometimes persist after treatment. 
  • Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
  • Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones 
  • Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath 
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Nerve pain 
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet 

The Many Forms of Lyme Disease Rash (Erythema Migrans) 

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Treatment of Lyme Disease 

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Early diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease are important and can prevent late Lyme disease. Without proper treatment for Lyme disease, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, leading to more serious symptoms. People treated with antibiotics for early Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.

The antibiotics most commonly used to treat Lyme disease include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. Some patients may have persistent or recurrent symptoms and may require another course of antibiotics, either oral or intravenous, depending on the severity of the symptoms, for up to 28 days.

Most people with Lyme disease get better after antibiotic treatment. This can take months for some people, but the symptoms should improve over time. However, some people may have symptoms like tiredness, aches, and loss of energy that can last for months or even years after treatment. These symptoms are known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). It is critical to talk to your doctor if you have persistent symptoms after treatment.

Conclusion

In conclusion, being aware of the common Lyme disease symptoms is crucial for early detection and timely treatment of this potentially debilitating condition. Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, can manifest in various ways and may not always present with the classic bull’s-eye rash. Therefore, vigilance is essential, especially if you live in or have visited areas known for tick infestations.

Recognizing the early warning signs, such as flu-like symptoms, fatigue, joint pain, and muscle aches, can prevent the infection from progressing to more severe stages, which may lead to neurological and cardiac complications. If you suspect you have been exposed to ticks or are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this blog, it is crucial to seek medical attention and visit the hospital promptly.

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