How long does it take to know if you have Lyme disease? What are the first signs or symptoms of Lyme that one may recognize? Well, it’s not that simple. Diagnosing Lyme is very challenging and highly-controversial process.
The symptoms vary from one person to another, depending on the stage of the illness. Some patients may present mild symptoms while others may suffer from acute pains.
In an early stage (somewhere between 3 to 30 days after being bitten by a tick) patients may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Erythema migrans ( bull’s-eye rash)
- Moderate to severe flu-like symptoms (runny nose, hoarseness, congestion, phlegm, headaches, sore throat,fever, chills, stiffness and neck pain, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes)
- Bell’s palsy (temporary paralysis of one side of the face)
- Nerve pains
Note that not everyone will develop the distinctive circular rash, Erythema migraines (EM). Around one in three people infected with Lyme disease do not recall having a rash.
Given that the first signs and symptoms of Lyme mimic the flu, a Lyme diagnosis can not be considered. Therefore many people are misdiagnosed. Throughout the following weeks to months the bacteria roams freely throughout body, spreading to other organs and causing more damage. When left untreated, patients develop more and more symptoms.
The bacteria has the ability to spread through the body via the cardiovascular system. Also its unique inner structure (called the flagellum) enables Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria to travel through tissues and mucus, unlike any other bacteria.
Therefore in a period of days or weeks (in some cases even years) the infection can cause respiratory, neurological, heart and liver problems, diminishing the patient’s quality of life. Here is a list of the late disseminated Lyme disease signs and symptoms:
- Muscle pain and swelling in the joints (Inflammatory arthritis)
- Nervous systems problems: (burning or stabbing sensation in the body, numbness, tingling and pain in the limbs, weakness, memory loss, difficulty concentrating or reading, pressure in the head, poor balance, difficulty walking, dizziness,light-headedness, dizziness, dizziness)
- Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Neck stiffness, severe headaches and increased sensitivity to light (meningitis, encephalitis, cranial neuritis)
- Facial weakness and paralysis (Bell’s palsy, Horner’s syndrome)
- Respiratory problems (shortness of breath, chest pain, rib soreness)
- Heart problems (heart palpitations, irregular heart beat, endocarditis/myocarditis/ pericarditis or heart failure)
- Sleep disturbances
- Cognitives problems (irritability, easy tearfulness, anxiety and depression)
- Vision problems (double or blurry vision, floaters, pain in the eyes, flashing lights)
- Hearing problems (decreased hearing in one or both ears, Tinnitus, pain and oversensitivity to sounds
- Digestive system problems (upset stomach, diarrhea, irritable bladder)
Some of the problems can slowly improve with treatment, others may persist for a long period of time, if the diagnosis was made in a later stage of the disease.
For a more detailed list of signs and symptoms please read the Symptoms Chart post.