Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Tens of thousands of people encounter infected ticks annually, and each year, the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is rising. This is seen not only in the United States but in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as well. Lyme disease has numerous long term side effects that can lead to issues if left untreated.
Anytime you or your pet is outdoors in areas with high grass or that are brushy and cluttered, you risk encountering a tick. When you pass by a tick, it will latch onto you and begin its journey over your body. A tick can search your body for more than 24 hours to find the perfect spot to access your bloodstream. Ticks feed on blood and cannot survive without it.
Once the black-legged tick picks a place on your body, it breaks your skin and begins to embed itself under your skin so it can feed on your blood. As it provides, it transmits bacteria to your bloodstream. A tick can carry multiple bacteria, including Lyme bacteria. It is more common than you think to have co-infections with similar symptoms. As bacteria travels through your bloodstream, specific symptoms appear. If left untreated, you can develop long term effects.
Localized Lyme Disease
First-stage symptoms typically occur within the first month after being infected by a tick. Many people notice a rash that looks like a bullseye circling the spot where the tick broke your skin. The inflammation is called erythema migrans and may accompany headaches, stiff neck, chills, fever, aches, runny nose, and sore throat. Your lymph nodes may swell, and you may experience swelling in your joints.
Several things in this stage can prevent receiving proper treatment and allow Lyme disease to go untreated. You may think you have a cold or flu, and your symptoms will pass, and you decide not to be evaluated by a doctor. Getting a bullseye rash can help you get the proper treatment. Unfortunately, only about 70% get a rash, or it appears in a place that is not noticeable.
Without a rash, doctors may misdiagnose your symptoms as the flu or COVID and only treat your symptoms. Even if they test you for Lyme disease, a misdiagnosis can occur. Currently, the ELISA and Western Blot, the two Lyme disease tests on the market, are not always accurate. Doctors may misdiagnose your symptoms as a disease mimicking Lyme disease, like multiple sclerosis or arthritis. If your stage one symptoms are left untreated, they will worsen, and new signs will appear.
Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
In stage two, Lyme disease, or early dissemination, Lyme bacteria spreads to other parts of your body, creating new symptoms. Flu-like symptoms will linger but can become more intense. You can expect aches, pains, and severe fatigue. Cognitively, you may feel like you have brain fog, trouble concentrating, and memory problems.
In addition, you may experience numbness in your limbs, joint pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, multiple lesions, or erythema migrans. Neuropathy, meningitis, and encephalopathy are less connected but can occur. Bell’s palsy, or facial paralysis, is another symptom in stage two. Anxiety and depression are mental health symptoms that may become more noticeable.
Stage two symptoms typically appear between three and twelve weeks after the bacteria is transmitted into your bloodstream. However, they can last for five months or longer. If your symptoms are not diagnosed correctly in this stage, Lyme bacteria will multiply and spread in the body, and your symptoms will worsen.
Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated, persistent, and chronic refer to untreated Lyme disease that lasts months and years. Symptoms from the first two stages carry over and worsen, often becoming debilitating and interfering with your ability to function daily. Late disseminated Lyme disease symptoms of can include the following:
- And neuropathy
- Cognitive problems
- Abnormal heartbeats
- Mental health disorders
In this stage, the swelling and pain in joint areas such as the knees intensify, making walking or participating in activities difficult. Some doctors may misdiagnose you with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis since the symptoms appear the same and because they haven’t made the connection to Lyme disease.
Long Term Effects of Lyme Disease on Relationships
Untreated Lyme disease symptoms produce physical and mental complications that affect other areas of your life, such as relationships you cherish with friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances. Lyme disease symptoms can be so bad that all you want to do is stay in bed and avoid the world. Lyme disease and mental health issues have been closely linked to negative effects on relationships with family and friends.
Missing work means your coworkers must take on your duties, which could delay project times. Isolating from family and friends hurts their feelings, which is unsuitable for your mental health. Skipping social obligations at school, church, or the community also has a domino effect, but the worst consequence is that you miss out on having fun.
Most people in your life understand you are in pain and are frustrated they cannot help you feel better. What you can do for your family and friends is seek a second, third, or fourth opinion from an infectious disease specialist, sometimes called a Lyme-literate doctor.
When and Why Seek a Lyme-Literate Doctor?
A Lyme-literate doctor has extended education and training in infectious diseases. They have access to advanced treatments and modern equipment to treat Lyme at every stage. Also, they use multiple methods to diagnose Lyme disease instead of two ineffective tests. Alternative treatments are used with antibiotics to eliminate Lyme bacteria from your bloodstream.
For example, they use therapeutic apheresis to remove infected blood and replace it with clean, healthy blood. Some bacteria find a way to protect themselves, like building biofilms to act as microscopic shields. Specialists use biofilm eradication protocols to eliminate them. For every obstacle Lyme disease presents, a Lyme-literate doctor knows a treatment to overcome it.
Using traditional and alternative therapies, your symptoms will ease, and you can get back to living an active lifestyle. Contact a specialist today if you think you may have Lyme disease or if your symptoms worsen despite antibiotics.
We’re also here to help all patients, such as those who suffer from Babesia, Bartonella, Epstein Barr, Pandas, Hashimoto’s, autoimmune disorders, or neurological disorders.
Now is the time to get the answers you deserve.