Early Lyme Disease Symptoms
Most people who become infected with Lyme disease do not recall a tick-bite. Symptoms of early Lyme disease are likely to appear between 2 and 30 days after a tick bite. The best known symptom of early disease is the erythema migrans or EM rash, which can occur at the site of the tick bite. Sometimes multiple rashes are present. Untreated EM rashes expand and clear over days to weeks though some have been known to last over a year. EM rashes are usually solid coloured, ranging from faint pink to deep red. Less than 20% of all EM rashes have the classic "bull's-eye" appearance.
These photos are examples of EM rashes. Individual EM rashes may have a different appearance. Photographing suspicious rashes can help doctors determine if Lyme disease is likely.
It is unclear how many people with Lyme disease develop an identifiable EM rash. In the USA, CDC surveillance case data documents that about 30% of confirmed cases lack a reported rash. An EM rash is diagnostic of Lyme disease, meaning that people who have the rash have Lyme disease. Because blood tests may be falsely negative in early Lyme Disease, testing is not recommended. Antibiotic treatment should begin as soon as an EM rash is identified.
Early Lyme Disease symptoms may present as a "summertime flu", producing fever, fatigue, muscle or joint pain and headache, with or without EM rash. Some people may notice areas of numbness or tingling that can move from one area to another.
Late Stage Lyme Disease Symptoms
A Lyme infection can affect any system of the body, causing a wide array of symptoms. The infection can produce debilitating fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, arthritis in any joint, neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, nerve pain and weakness, heart problems, psychiatric disorders, difficulty with thinking, memory, language and math skills, ad well as problems with vision and hearing. Given the variety of potential problems, it is not surprising that cases of Lyme disease don't all look exactly alike.
While the infection is often mild, some people may have a severe illness and associated disabilities. Left untreated, or under-treated, Lyme Disease can persist for years. Although rarely fatal, deaths have occurred, especially if the heart is involved.