Lyme disease symptoms
Katie Carpenter | 07.12.13
A bullseye rash is diagnostic for Lyme disease.
Lyme disease symptoms will occur anywhere from 2-30 days after you are bitten. Typically, it’s in that 2-3 week period that most people come down with symptoms and they’re usually like getting the flu.
“Flu season’s the winter, Lyme disease season is the summer. So, if you get something that seems like flu in summer, especially if nobody else around you is sick, that’s suspicious,” explains Doug Fearn, President of the Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern PA. Fearn knows about symptoms and treatment firsthand because he experienced the disease himself.
Fearn explains that the bulls-eye rash is actually diagnostic for Lyme. “If you have that rash, you have Lyme disease. You don’t need any further diagnosis or testing or anything. That rash means you’re infected. But, unfortunately, fewer than ½ people get that rash and, some that get it may never see it if it’s on their scalp or back or someplace they can’t see it.”
Here's what to look out for:
More about Lyme disease symptoms:
If the disease is caught early, it’s fairly easy to treat and most people get better. But, if you don’t catch it or treat it adequately, it can be a really serious disease and people can be permanently disabled by it. Watch Linda Olley’s story about living with Lyme disease for 20 years before receiving a proper diagnosis.
Fearn says that many don’t even know that it’s there because it doesn’t itch for most people, its not raised, not hot- nothing about it that would lead you to believe there was something on you. “For those ½ of the people that find that rash, they have Lyme and they need to be treated right away,” he says.
“The biggest misconception is that it is not a serious disease. It can attack your heart. It can affect your brain. It’s amazing how many patients have experienced road rage- normal people- yet when affected with Lyme, experience cases of rage and they couldn’t believe they have done that. That’s pretty common. And there are all kinds of psychiatric problems that can go along with it- depression, it can affect sleep, the nervous system- hands tremble like Parkinson’s, it can affect vision, hearing.”
This is why preventing tick bites is so important when outdoors, and why checking for ticks is key. Here's a video about how to prevent Lyme disease.
Fearn says that the disease seems to zero in on inherent weaknesses in your body. “If you have an injured knee, you might notice Lyme symptoms there, and your knee’s going to get a whole lot worse.”
There are also a lot of neurological problems with this disease and people might experience odd sensations in their hands and feet, almost like a burning or tingling sensation. That indicates that you’re infected.
Fearn says that for most Lyme patents, the fatigue that comes with the disease is their worst problem. “It’s a debilitating fatigue for some. They can’t get out of bed in the morning. And, that will persist indefinitely until they’re treated. A lot of these people never leave their homes and they don’t see a doctor so they don’t know what’s wrong with them, and consequently, they stay that way indefinitely. It can be very serious.”
Lyme disease is actually a close relative to syphilis, and back in the olden days, syphilis was called the “Great imitator” because it looked like other diseases. Lyme has taken that position. Because it’s so similar, many patients are misdiagnosed, with MS, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other serious conditions.
Fearn says, “People that have Lyme, when they’re treated for Lyme, they get better. So, it’s important to not give up on it. If it doesn’t meet your criteria, find somebody to dig deeper to find out what’s going on.”
Reputable online resources for Lyme disease information:
- PA Lyme Resource Network
- Lyme Disease Association Southeastern PA
- Columbia Lyme & Tick Borne Diseases Research Center (LD research at Columbia University)
- Rhode Island Tick Encounter Resource Center
- LDA-Lyme Disease Association
- Legislative updates: a statewide Pennsylvania legislative coalition
- www.lymenet.org (general information, with many links, including support group listings)
- www.lymeinfo.net (general information)
- www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme/index.htm (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- www.fda.gov( the food and drug administration; search for “Lyme”)
- www.medscape.com (this site requires a simple registration, but it is worth it to obtain excellent medical texts that you can give to your doctor if necessary. Search for “Lyme”)
Published in Personal Transformation