Learn about signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, medical complications, treatment and prevention of Lyme disease in this article.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infectious disease caused by the spirochetal organism, Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is often acquired from tick bites. They are wood ticks found in deers. Ticks may settle itself anywhere on a human body, preferably on warm, moist, and dark places like armpits and groins.
In its initial stages, the disease is characterized by a bull’s eye rash although not all people get the rash. This bulls eye rash for Lyme disease is often mistaken for other skin problems such as bruising or eczema especially in people with darker pigmentation.
The disease is easy to treat with antibiotics in its initial stages, but it is often not detected at that point. It is also difficult to diagnose the disease through testing alone since the organism that causes the disease is often not in the bloodstream.
By the time the diagnosis is made, the disease can be quite entrenched in the body. There are also often many co-infections in Lyme disease patients that may cause a host of other complications. Nevertheless, since the disease and its associated co-infections are caused by bacterial organisms, and these organisms can be killed, there is hope for recovery.
Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease
Infection may manifest differently. In its initial stage, patients see the presence of a reddish bulls eye rash often accompanied by fever, malaise, and fatigue. Less than fifty percent of patients in the early stage of Lyme disease experienced this symptom. This appears anywhere from a day to a month upon being bitten by an infected tick. Muscular-skeletal pain may also be present during the early onset of this condition.
Lyme disease lowers body temperature and creates poor blood circulation. A person is also likely to feel cysts, lumps, and swellings in different areas of their body that often change and move. The bacteria walls itself off, and creates a low temperature and oxygen environment within the body in which it can grow and thrive and the person with the disease ends up in severe pain, with horribly low energy, and neurological symptoms of Lyme disease.
It also obstructs the lymphatic system and the metabolism. The bacteria frequently hides inside the walls of white blood cells, and results in congested and swollen lymph nodes in adults and children. People with the disease often have symptoms of hypothyroidism and a slowed metabolic rate even if all of their thyroid tests are normal.
There have been rare cases where the infection appears asymptomatic. And some less common reported cases of having cardiac and neurological symptoms. Cardiac symptoms include heart block and palpitations, neurological symptoms of Lyme disease include affectation of the central nervous system wherein the senses are impaired.
In brief, the most typical signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- A bull’s eye rash at site of bite or rashes on other parts of body - the bulls eye rash for Lyme disease is usually circular, oval and spreading out and may come and go
- Unexplained hair loss
- Mild or severe headache, seizures or lightheadedness
- Facial paralysis or twitching, tingling in face / nose / tongue / cheek and facial flushing
- Neck and jaw pain or stiffness
- Changes in taste or smell, sore throat, hoarseness and runny nose
- Double, blurry or dim vision and oversensitivity to light
- Pain in eyes, or swollen eye tissue
- Hearing problems, pain / buzzing / ringing / clicking noises in one or both ears, pressure or feeling of fullness in ears
- Diarrhea, constipation, irritable bladder, interstitial cystitis, abdominal pain, nausea and vomitting
- Bone pain, joint pain or swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome
- Stiffness of joints, back, neck, tennis elbow
- Muscle pain or cramps, loss of muscle tone
- Pain in spinal column
- Shortness of breath, cough, night sweats or unexplained chills, fever
- Chest pain or rib soreness and heart palpitations or extra beats
- Endocarditis, Heart blockage
- Tremors or unexplained shaking (especially at night)
- Burning or stabbing sensations in the body
- Intense fatigue, weakness, peripheral neuropathy or partial paralysis/stroke-like symptoms
- Poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking, diminished reflexes, increased motion sickness
- Mood swings, irritability, bi-polar disorder, unusual depression
- Disorientation, loss of control, over-emotional reactions, crying easily
- Too much sleep, or insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea
- Panic attacks, anxiety
- Memory loss, brain fog, poor concentration, confusion, speech difficulty (slow or slurred)
- Loss of sex drive, sexual dysfunction
- Unexplained menstrual pain or irregularity and breast pain or discharge in women
- Testicular or pelvic pain in men
- Unexplained weight gain, loss
- Swollen glands / lymph nodes in children and adults
- Phantom smells
- Continual infections (sinus, kidney or eye)
- Low body temperature
- Allergies / hemical sensitivities
- Increased effect from alcohol and possible worse hangover
- Frequent urination that is not normal
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may come and go in varying degrees with fluctuation from one symptom to another. This makes it hard to obtain a proper diagnosis, and the medical testing for the illness is still not very accurate in many cases.
Medical complications of Lyme disease
Untreated or persistent cases of Lyme disease may lead to a number of chronic diseases with medical complications such as meningo-encephalitis, cardiac inflammation (myocarditis), and frank arthritis.
Treatment of Lyme disease
Antibiotics are the primary treatment administered for Lyme disease. Dosage depends on the amount of time the tick has stayed in the person’s body. People who immediately removed the tick from their body are advised to be placed on close monitoring for any tick-borne diseases. For people who have been bitten by ticks that have been in their person for at least twelve hours are advised to take a three-day dose of antibiotics. The duration of dosing will depend on the doctor’s instructions and should always be followed religiously.
According to the doctors who use it, long-term antibiotic therapy may be needed by patients of Lyme disease and other “auto-immune diseases”. Nevertheless, there can be serious side effects from this type of therapy. Antibiotics used a long period of time can cause kidney disease, liver damage and gallbladder problems. Many people also cannot tolerate oral antibiotics well because of the strain on their digestive system.
Fortunately, there are many alternative health options that can complement treatment with antibiotics and which may reduce side effects, and there are many natural remedies that have antibiotic and immune-enhancing properties of their own. Some of them are acupuncture, chinese herbs, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, massage, heat therapy, regular exercise, hot yoga and proper diet. All these may help to alleviate various signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
The best way to avoid getting Lyme disease is to avoid tick-infested areas, or anywhere there are lots of animals where ticks may breed on. If it is unavoidable to go to tick-filled places, wear protective clothing that covers the entire body. Also, using insect repellents when going into wooden areas may help.
You can prevent from getting infected by Lyme disease or any other diseases by knowing what to avoid. Protect yourself from breeding ticks or body lice that may infect you by keeping personal hygiene. Understanding signs and symptoms of Lyme disease such as bull’s eye rash, swollen eye tissue, swollen lymph nodes in adults and children, tingling in face, frequent urination and nausea. Being sensitive to your body and keeping track of even the slightest changes in your body will help you become more aware of any form of infection or insect infestation on your body.