With spring weather upon us and everyone spending more time in the outdoors, it’s important to remember to check for ticks when you come back inside. Lyme disease is a real threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Every year, up to three million people develop the disease in the United States, and a large amount of people suffering from it never realized that Lyme is the cause of their health problems.
Lyme disease is spread through ticks, primarily the deer and black legged varieties. The disease comes from the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium which is found in many of these ticks. If you’ve been bitten, it’s good to know the symptoms and what to look out for. Most medical professionals agree a tick must be attached to the host (you) for a minimum of 24 hours before the Lyme bacterium can be transmitted. That’s why checking frequently for ticks is important. Here are 10 signs that you may have contacted Lyme disease.
You have flu-like symptoms
One of the common symptoms of Lyme disease is feeling like you have a flu. This means that you’ll begin suffering from a runny nose, fevers, chills, and shaking. All the symptoms you associate with the flu can also indicate that you are in the early stages of Lyme disease and it’s at this point that you should go and see a doctor. Many people will simply brush off the conditions and take over-the-counter medication, but if you can catch the disease at this stage, it’s far simpler to treat.
You have a stiff neck
If your neck is sore and you have the above-mentioned flu-like symptoms, it’s possible that you have developed Lyme disease. A stiff neck is a common indicator of having recently contracted the disease because of the infection traveling around the body.
Headaches often begin when you are in the early stages of developing the condition. A checkup is essential at this stage, your doctor will be able to provide you with treatment that is more effective the sooner after you contract the disease.
One of the signature symptoms of Lyme disease is fatigue. This symptom occurs later on in the disease and is actually known as ‘post-Lyme syndrome’. It is far more than just feeling tired – it makes the muscles completely incapable of moving. Along with the fatigue, the individual will suffer great pain in their muscles, bones, and joints.
This symptom is more common during the early stages of the disease and it includes the swelling of the muscles, joints, and anywhere else in the body. The effect occurs as the body tries to protect itself from the invading bacteria. Swelling is a natural response to many conditions and, as time goes by, the individual will find that the swelling will get worse. Not only that, but the pain involved with it can also get worse, making it almost unbearable.
If you have heart problems and your family doesn’t have a history of it, this could be an indicator that you have Lyme disease. This is far less common than other symptoms, but in some cases an irregular heartbeat can actually suggest that you have Lyme disease that has been left untreated.
Muscle numbness occurs even during the early stages of Lyme disease making it difficult to move and creating either a numbness or a tingling feeling in muscles all over the body. Another common complaint is that the individual has shooting pains that go from the top of the leg to the bottom.
Bull’s eye rash
The bull’s eye rash is the first sign of Lyme disease, and it occurs around the region that the tick originally embedded itself into the skin. There are lots of ways that this rash might appear, with the first being the obvious bull’s eye shape, with a blistering lesion in the middle and surrounding circles of redness. Some lesions may have a uniform red color, others may be disseminated and others may appear blue-red. The thing to look out for is a large circular rash that appears dark red.
This is one of the most serious symptoms of Lyme disease and although uncommon, it’s important to know about nonetheless. This symptom includes the drooping of the face, where muscles stop working and you find it difficult to speak. Some individuals have experienced this symptom, known as facial palsy, to the extent that it resembles a stroke.
You’ve been bitten by a tick and feel unwell
Finally, if you are bitten by a tick and you are feeling unwell, you should go straight to the doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine whether you are at risk of developing Lyme disease and will be able to take measures to tackle it as effectively as possible.