Many people associate Lyme disease with a classic rash that resembles a bull’s-eye. Less common symptoms include aches and pains as well as neurological symptoms, such as changes in vision and hearing.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness. In many cases, it causes a rash to appear on the skin, which is a classic sign of infection. Less commonly, a person may develop additional symptoms and complications that can be serious and even life threatening.
This article reviews Lyme disease, its common and unusual symptoms, complications, and more.
Lyme disease spreads through
Most cases of Lyme disease result from a person contracting the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. However, in rare cases, it may be the result of Borrelia mayonii. A doctor can diagnose Lyme disease based on common symptoms and confirm the diagnosis with lab tests.
Following diagnosis, doctors typically treat the disease with antibiotics.
A person can take steps to help prevent Lyme disease, such as:
- reducing tick habitats around homes
- applying pesticides
- using insect repellents
- removing ticks before they attach to the skin
Lyme disease can produce different symptoms and signs in its early stages.
According to the
Many people associate Lyme disease with an erythema migrans rash, which resembles a bull’s-eye or target. However, the CDC notes that a rash may not occur in 20–30% of all Lyme disease cases. It also may not appear as the classic bull’s-eye shape that people often expect.
Below are some less common symptoms that a person with Lyme disease may experience.
Aches and pains
Lyme disease can cause arthritis-like pain in the joints in its early stages. The difference between Lyme disease and arthritis is that Lyme disease affects one joint for a short amount of time and then moves to another joint.
In more advanced, untreated Lyme disease, joint pain can turn into intermittent arthritis. In rare cases, a person may develop severe chronic arthritis linked to the immune system’s response to the infection.
Without prompt treatment, arthritis
Visual, auditory, and sensory symptoms
In some cases, Lyme disease can cause auditory (hearing) issues. According to a
The researchers noted that people with long-duration infections were more likely to experience permanent and irreversible changes in the cochlea or auditory nerve.
Cognitive, neurological, and psychological symptoms
Lyme disease can cause cognitive, neurological, and, in some cases, psychological symptoms. It can affect the central, cranial, and peripheral nervous systems.
When the bacteria affect the nervous systems, it can cause neurological symptoms. They
- Central nervous system: This may cause sensitivity to light, issues with vision, stiff neck, fever, or headache.
- Cranial nervous system: This may cause facial palsy, which is drooping facial features on one or both sides of the face.
- Peripheral nervous system: This may cause tingling or numbness, a sharp, shooting pain, and weakness in the arms or legs.
The symptoms can often resemble those of other disorders, which could lead to misdiagnosis.
Left untreated, Lyme disease can affect several areas of the body, including the central nervous system and heart.
Lyme carditis occurs when the bacteria enter the heart tissue. This causes disturbances in how electrical signals move throughout the heart, which can cause several symptoms, including:
The bacteria enter the heart in about
The following are answers to questions about Lyme disease.
What might a doctor misdiagnose Lyme disease as?
Ticks can carry a variety of different organisms and diseases with them.
The lone star tick can carry a disease known as southern tick-associated rash illness. The rash it causes
What are the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease?
Chronic Lyme disease is not a recognized condition. However, some symptoms can persist past treatment. This has led doctors to describe the phenomenon as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). PTLDS occurs in about 5–20% of people who receive Lyme disease treatment. It may cause symptoms such as:
The exact cause is unknown. However, it may be due to persistent infection, immune system activation, damage from Lyme infection, or changes in the brain following Lyme disease.
In most cases, a doctor can treat Lyme disease with a round of antibiotics. The
Treatments can vary based on the different types of Lyme disease. They typically involve the use of antibiotics to cure the infection.
In some cases, a person may develop PTLDS. While the CDC acknowledges that this can occur, it also notes that additional research is necessary to understand the biological mechanisms involved.
Lyme disease can cause a variety of symptoms. A person can reduce their risk of contracting Lyme disease by taking steps such as using insect repellent or pesticides.
If a person suspects Lyme disease may be causing symptoms, or has found a tick attached to their skin, they should contact their doctor for testing. Treating Lyme disease early can help prevent more serious, less common symptoms and complications associated with the infection.