Lyme disease can begin with mild flu-like symptoms which typically include extraordinary fatigue. The initial symptoms have been found to occur as many as eight weeks after a tick bite. About half of patients notice a skin rash (erythema migrans) days or even weeks later. These early symptoms usually lessen or even disappear, although they may recur on a regular basis. Left untreated, a series of multi-systemic problems can then develop and worsen over time, sometimes with periods of greater intensity every three to four weeks.
Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
– Low grade fevers, “hot flashes” or chills
– Night sweats
– Sore throat
– Swollen glands
– Stiff neck
– Migrating arthralgias, stiffness and frank arthritis
– Chest pain and palpitations
– Abdominal pain, nausea
– Sleep disturbance
– Poor concentration and memory loss
– Irritability and mood swings
– Back pain
– Blurred vision and eye pain
– Jaw pain
– Testicular/pelvic pain
– Cranial nerve disturbance (facial numbness, pain, tingling, palsy or optic neuritis)
– Mysterious migrating symptoms that seem to come and go
– Cyclical symptom
One or more erythema migrans (EM) rashes which vary in size and shape; may have concentric rings of varying shades of red, purple, or bruised looking skin, or be uniformly discolored; may be warm, smooth or bumpy to the touch; may itch; may be necrotic (crusty/oozing). Multiple rashes per bite or rashes not at site of bite are indications of disseminated disease. Later skin problems include lymphocytoma (a benign nodule or tumor) and acrodermatitis chronicia atrophicans (ACA) (discoloration/degeneration usually of the hands or feet).
Nerve conduction defects (weakness/paralysis of limbs, loss of reflexes, tingling sensations in the extremities); severe headaches; stiff neck; meningitis; dizziness; fainting; cranial nerve involvement (change in smell/taste; difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking; hoarseness or vocal cord problems; facial paralysis known as Bell’s palsy; drooping shoulders; inability to turn head; double vision); abnormal brain waves or seizures; sleep disorders; cognitive changes (memory problems, confusion, disorientation, decreased concentration); behavioral changes (depression, personality changes, panic attacks); mental illness (sudden onset with no previous history of mental illness).