Lyme Disease Symptoms & Treatment

Lyme Disease

Symptoms and when to see a doctor

Lyme disease is an illness caused by borrelia bacteria. Humans usually get Lyme disease from the bite of a tick carrying the bacteria. Ticks that can carry borrelia bacteria live throughout most of the United States. But Lyme disease is most common in the upper Midwest and the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. It’s also common in Europe and in south central and southeastern Canada.

Ticks, blood-sucking pests, latch onto the skin of their host to feed. While attached, they gorge themselves until they become swollen, sometimes growing to several times their normal size. These miniature vampires, known as deer ticks, can continue feasting on a host’s blood for multiple days.

But here’s where things get concerning. Ticks are like little carriers, picking up bacteria from animals like deer or rodents. Surprisingly, they don’t get sick themselves, but they can transfer those bacteria to another victim. When an infected tick bites a person, the bacteria can enter their bloodstream. However, if the tick is removed within 24 hours, there is a lower chance of the bacteria causing Lyme disease.

How you might be feeling

Here’s an additional twist – both young and adult ticks are potential carriers of this disease. The young ticks, being tiny and elusive, can easily go unnoticed when they bite you.

Typical symptoms of Lyme disease can vary based on the time that has elapsed after a tick bite. 

Early signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Erythema migraines (EM) rash, seen in 70-80% of infected individuals
  • Rash begins 3-30 days following a tick bite
  • Not usually itchy, but may feel warm to touch
  • Bite mark may develop a bull’s eye appearance
lyme disease

Follow on symptoms of Lyme Disease

  • Headaches and neck stiffness
  • EM rashes on other areas of the body
  • Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone, dropping on one or both sides of the face)
  • Arthritic pain
  • Pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness, shortness of breath
  • Nerve pain
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet

Late stage conditions

In the third stage, you may have symptoms from the earlier stages, is called late disseminated disease.

In the United States, the most common condition of this stage is arthritis in large joints, particularly the knees. Pain, swelling or stiffness may last for a long time. Or the symptoms may come and go. Stage 3 symptoms usually begin 2 to 12 months after a tick bite.

The type of Lyme disease common in Europe can cause a skin condition called acrodermatitis chronic atrophicans. The skin on the backs of the hands and tops of the feet get discolored and swell. It also may show up over the elbows and knees. More-serious cases may cause damage to tissues or joints.

This skin condition may show up many months to many years after a tick bite.

dr pete

Treatment when diagnosed with lyme disease

Most people who get Lyme disease don’t remember having a tick bite. And many symptoms of Lyme disease relate to other conditions. See your health care provider if you have Lyme disease symptoms. An early diagnosis and proper treatment can improve outcomes.

If you know you had a tick bite or might have been around ticks, watch for symptoms. If they show up, see your care provider as soon as possible.

Antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease. In most cases, recovery will be quicker and more complete the sooner treatment begins.

The standard treatment for Lyme disease is an antibiotic taken as a pill. The treatment usually lasts 10 to 14 days. Treatment may be longer depending on your symptoms. It’s important to take all pills as directed even if you’re feeling better.

Your care provider may prescribe an antibiotic given directly into a vein, also called an intravenous (IV) antibiotic. An IV antibiotic may be used for more-serious disease, especially if you have symptoms of:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

901 Dover Dr, Suite 122, Newport Beach, CA
Scroll to Top