Lyme disease is a complicated, infectious disease caused by bacteria and is transmitted to humans from an insect or tick bite. In the majority of cases, it has been found that people develop this disease after a deer or black-legged tick bite and transfers the bacteria, borrelia burgdorferi, to the bloodstream. However, other insects may also carry Lyme disease and cause infections of similar kind, according to the Michigan Lyme Disease Association. These may possibly include mosquitoes, fleas, spiders, and other kinds of ticks.
For an insect to transmit the infection, it should be present for about 24-48 hours on the skin. Most people diagnosed with Lyme disease say that they don’t know when they were bitten by a tick. Lyme disease is among the most common tick-borne diseases in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Midwest, and Northeast regions of the United States. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), about 300,000 people are affected by this illness. In most cases, people who have spent some time or live in wooded areas are likely to catch Lyme disease.
Stages and Symptoms of Lyme Disease
The bacteria from the tick bite can spread across your body and start a chain of autoimmune-like reactions. The Department of Rheumatology of University of Würzburg has found that symptoms generally affect the heart, skin, nervous system, and joints of the patients.
People suffering from Lyme disease essentially go through 3 stages. Each stage shows a different set of symptoms, which depends on how long the bacteria has been present and where it has infected your body.
This stage is known as early localized Lyme disease and usually lasts between 1 and 4 weeks. Symptoms start to appear within 1 to 2 weeks after the bite. During this stage, you may have:
- Increasing bull’s-eye rash, also known as erythema migrans or circular red rash.
- Symptoms similar to flu, with or without the rash, such as lack of energy, fever and chills, stiff neck and headache, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint pain.
The rash will most likely disappear after about 3 to 4 weeks. While bull’s-eye rash has been seen in a majority of cases, some people may not exhibit this symptom and just have a solid red rash. People in the first stage of Lyme disease usually don’t notice any symptoms.
The second stage is referred to as the early disseminated Lyme disease that emerges after a month or so of the tick bite. During this stage, bacteria have begun spreading to different parts of your body. Some common systems patients may exhibit include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Numbness, pain, or weakness in the legs or arms
- Occasional rapid heartbeats
- Sore throat
- Vision changes
Patients have a general feeling of being unwell during this stage, and may also develop a rash in areas aside from the tick bite. The condition may become severe with cardiac conduction disturbances and meningitis.
The third and final stage is called the late disseminated Lyme diseases which may occur after months or even years after the tick bite. Some common symptoms include:
- Arthritis of large joints
- Brain disorders involving sleep, mood, and memory
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disturbances in heart rhythm
- Mental fogginess
- Numbness in the feet, hands, legs or arms
- Problems following conversations
- Severe headaches
- Short-term memory loss
You should contact your physician right away if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
The LaCava Center is known for successfully treating Lyme disease through an innovative medical method, called Integrative Medicine. Contact us today to find out more about our treatment.