Lyme disease is not discussed enough today, although it affects hundreds of thousands annually. People have heard about Lyme disease, but many don’t fully understand how it is transmitted or where to seek help. They may know ticks carry the disease but aren’t sure which tick species or how to identify common symptoms. Recognizing unusual signs of Lyme disease is even more challenging. Untreated symptoms become chronic and interfere with daily functioning.
Understanding how Lyme disease progresses makes knowing when to seek help for your symptoms easier.
Stage 1 Lyme Disease
The initial or acute stage of Lyme disease occurs within the first few days or weeks after being bitten by a black-legged tick, also called a deer tick. This stage is clinically known as the early localized stage. The most obvious symptom is a bullseye rash, also called erythema migrans, that can appear anywhere on your body. However, no more than 80% of people get a bullseye rash.
Noticing a bullseye rash is beneficial because it is a sure sign of a bacterial infection from Borrelia burgdorferi associated with Lyme disease, signaling you need treatment immediately. The sooner you are treated, the better your chances of eliminating the bacteria from your bloodstream.
Other common symptoms in stage one:
- Stiff neck
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle or joint pain
Stage 2 Lyme Disease
In the second stage, symptoms already present tend to worsen. This stage is called the early disseminated stage because the disease is still beginning but has also started to multiply and spread to other body parts. As the infection spreads, new symptoms appear.
You can expect the following in stage two:
- All of the symptoms in stage 1
- Multiple lesions or rashes
- Bell’s palsy or facial paralysis
- Numbness in the arms or legs
- Pain or swelling in joints
Each person will experience different symptoms at varying levels of severity. Even if your symptoms seem mild, you must seek treatment immediately to prevent further spreading and chronic Lyme disease.
Stage 3 Lyme Disease
The third stage is called the late dissemination stage, but most specialists call it chronic Lyme disease. If you have stage three symptoms, you have likely gone untreated or misdiagnosed for months and possibly years. It is also possible that you fall into a group of about 20% of people who received antibiotic treatment but continue to experience symptoms.
Symptoms from stages one and two may still be present in this stage. You may also be experiencing new symptoms, like the following:
- Sleep disturbances
- Concentration and memory difficulties
- Speech problems
- Depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems
- Arthritis of major joints
- General unspecified pain or fibromyalgia
It’s important to note that the symptoms listed here are the most common symptoms reported among people with Lyme disease. They are not the only symptoms, however. If you have unexplained symptoms of any kind, tell your doctor.
If you are not getting the answers or treatment you deserve from your doctor, seek the help of a Lyme-literate doctor. One reason is that they know common and unusual symptoms associated with Lyme disease.
Unusual Signs of Lyme Disease in Children
Children may experience the same symptoms as adults in each stage of Lyme disease. They may also experience unusual symptoms, such as
- Loss of appetite
- Inflammation of the heart
- Eye inflammation
- Skin disorders
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Night sweats
- Change in academic performance
- Mood changes
- Easily irritated or angry outbursts
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Brain fog
- Heightened visual, hearing, taste, and touch sensitivities
- Change in eating habits or preferences
As children grow into adolescence and adulthood, unusual symptoms may change as their bodies and biology change.
Unusual Signs of Lyme Disease in Adults
Adults have reported unusual neurological, visual, cardiac, and skin symptoms associated with Lyme disease. Symptoms may include:
- Hearing loss or ringing in the ears
- Weight gain
- Gastrointestinal or urinary problems
- Poor muscle movement, tremors, or balance problems
- Brain fog
- Mood swings or worsening mental health symptoms
- Sleep disturbances
- Lack of concentration or focus
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of color vision
- Blurred or double vision
- Increased sensitivities to light, sound, touch, taste, etc.
- Heart arrhythmias
- Breathing difficulties
- Chest pain
- Dizziness or Vertigo
Someone may also experience skin changes, such as bluish-red lumps, shrinking, or tightening. In addition, Lyme disease can take its toll on other parts of the body, like the kidneys and liver. You may develop Hepatitis, meningitis, or arthritis.
When to Seek Help from a Lyme-Literate Specialist
A Lyme-literate doctor is a specialist in treating Lyme disease at any stage. You can seek their guidance at any time, usually without a referral from a healthcare provider. If you are unsure if you need to seek help from a specialist, use these tips as guidelines:
- You have consulted with your family doctor but think you may have been misdiagnosed.
- You have been treated with antibiotics, but you still have symptoms.
- You were given the Lyme disease test, and your results were negative, but you still have symptoms.
- You were given the Lyme disease test, and your results were positive.
- You have met with multiple doctors, but none have been able to eliminate your symptoms.
Why Seek Help from a Lyme-Literate Specialist?
Primary care physicians aren’t trained to care for specialty problems. Specialists have obtained years of extra education and supervised training. Lyme-literate specialists have extensive experience in infectious diseases. They treat not only Lyme disease but also coinfections that sometimes accompany it.
When searching for Lyme-literate specialists, look for leaders in their field. They participate in cutting-edge research, use advanced equipment, and collaborate with other specialists worldwide. For example, choosing Lyme Mexico means working with a member of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society and other Associations known for research and presentations on Lyme disease.
He also works closely with American and Canadian doctors after your initial treatments. Most importantly, he uses the latest, most effective treatments to eliminate negative symptoms so you can get back to living life.