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What Are the 3 Stages of Lyme Disease? Lyme has three main stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. Here we break down each stage for you in-depth. Read below for more…

Lyme disease is a slow process, not an overnight occurrence. When a deer tick is infected with the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi attaches to your body, and it can take up to a day or more to find the perfect spot to “bite” you. Instead of biting you, the tick begins to scratch the skin’s surface until it breaks.

Once the skin is broken, the deer tick embeds itself under your skin so it can access your bloodstream, which is where they feed. It is also where they transmit the Lyme bacteria. The symptoms of Lyme disease do not appear immediately. For some, it can take weeks or months. One reason is that Lyme disease occurs in three stages.

Stage 1: Early Localized Lyme Disease

A bullseye rash often develops after being bitten by an infected deer tick. However, not everyone will get a rash or see a rash since it can appear anywhere on the body. Oddly, the bullseye rash is the one symptom you want to have. It is the only sure sign of Lyme disease, and your doctor will know exactly how to treat you with antibiotics, giving you the best chances of getting rid of Lyme disease early.

Other symptoms of stage one Lyme disease include fever, chills, sweats, goosebumps, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, stiff neck, fatigue, and muscle aches. You may also experience unusual depression or anxiety.

Untreated Stage 1 Lyme Disease

There are several reasons Lyme disease goes untreated in the early localized stage, or stage one. Unless you receive a bullseye rash, the other symptoms mimic those of the flu, mental illness, COVID, and other viruses and infections. General practitioners often treat your symptoms rather than search for a source of the symptoms.

Checking for Lyme disease may not even be an option considered by general practitioners who write a prescription and tell you to follow up in a few days.

The doctors who think about checking for Lyme disease face an uphill battle due to inaccurate tests. The ELIZA and the Western Blot are the most commonly used tests for Lyme disease. Unfortunately, they will only detect Lyme disease if the antibodies of the bacteria are active at the time you take the test.

Lyme spirochetes or bacteria are very clever and can avoid being detected by going dormant, hiding in the cell linings, and building biofilms or shields. This means you can receive a negative test result for Lyme disease when you have the disease.

If your Lyme disease goes untreated, the condition worsens.

Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease

Dissemination means to spread. In stage two of Lyme disease, the bacteria spread throughout your body, causing painful symptoms in various areas. As bacteria travel through your bloodstream, your immune system activates inflammation to seek out the bacteria and eliminate them. However, this rarely happens on its own because Lyme bacteria are so good at hiding.

This causes the inflammation to continue traveling throughout your body, searching for the bacteria. Your body remains constantly inflamed, which can generate a lot of pain. Many people complain of swelling and soreness in the joints and muscles. 

Inflammation can travel to the heart and nervous system, causing palpitations and disruptions in your heart rate, numbness, tingling, headaches, facial paralysis, vision changes, and all the symptoms that appeared in stage one.

Untreated Stage 2 Lyme Disease

If these symptoms go untreated or are misdiagnosed, you can expect your symptoms to worsen and begin to interfere with daily functioning.

This is the time to seek a second opinion from a specialist. Your general practitioner has not resolved your symptoms despite multiple treatments, and therefore, you need a clinician with expertise in infectious diseases.

A Lyme-literate doctor is an infectious disease specialist. If you have symptoms and your regular doctor cannot figure out why you have them, seek help elsewhere. The sooner you find the right doctor, the quicker you can receive a correct diagnosis and advanced treatments.

Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease

If you reach stage three of Lyme disease, you can expect symptoms such as 

  • severe headaches
  • arthritis
  • sleep disturbances
  • heart rhythm disturbances
  • mental fog
  • confusion
  • depression
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • trouble completing conversations
  • lack of concentration
  • numbness
  • tingling in your limbs
  • neck stiffness
  • widespread pain.

Some general doctors may send you to a pain clinic at this stage because they cannot determine the source of your pain or why ordinary treatments are not working. They may give you a fibromyalgia diagnosis and put you on pain medication. Unless you treat Lyme disease, this will only get worse. You will continue to experience chronic Lyme disease symptoms.

How to Get the Right Diagnosis

The first thing you must do when trying to find relief from unsourced symptoms is to make yourself a priority. If your general doctor is not helping you, find a new doctor. If they don’t help, find a new one. Keep searching for the right doctor, which you will learn is a Lyme-literate or infectious disease doctor.

Do not wait around for your regular doctor to figure out your problem. They are too busy. You must be your advocate. Make an appointment with the best Lyme-literate doctor, even if they are outside the country. These doctors have new testing methods and modern equipment to better treat and get rid of your Lyme disease.

Advantages of a Lyme-Literate Doctor

Lyme-literate doctors skip the inaccurate tests and examine your blood directly under a microscope and perform a comprehensive examination, combined with your symptoms, to determine if you have Lyme disease.

Treatment regimens include advanced apheresis, hyperthermia, detoxes, biofilm eradication, and vitamin and antibiotic infusions, to name a few. If you have not heard of these therapies yet, it is time for you to learn more. There are numerous treatments available that have proven to ease Lyme disease symptoms soon after you begin a program.

Give yourself the gift of a Lyme-literate doctor. You don’t have to live with your symptoms forever.


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