How to Tell If You Have Lyme Disease

October 27, 2023

If you suspect that you have Lyme Disease, you're probably wondering about the signs and symptoms you should look out for. Lyme Disease is a complex illness that’s primarily transmitted through tick bites, and while early detection and timely treatment are crucial for managing it successfully, its symptoms are wide-ranging and can often linger for months. That’s why many doctors find it difficult to diagnose and treat Lyme disease and often misdiagnose it as another condition entirely.

In this comprehensive guide, follow along as we explore the common and rare symptoms of Lyme disease, as well as early symptoms to watch out for, more severe late-stage symptoms, and those associated with chronic Lyme disease. By the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of this debilitating illness and be able to decide for yourself if you need to see a specialist.

Common Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease can manifest in a multitude of ways, and its symptoms can vary from person to person, but generally speaking, the most common symptoms associated with Lyme Disease include:

1. Bullseye Rash: One of the most recognizable signs of Lyme disease is a bullseye rash that often appears at the site of a tick bite. However, not everyone with Lyme disease develops this rash.

2. Joint Pain: Joint pain, often in the knees, is a frequent symptom of Lyme disease.

3. Fatigue: Many individuals with Lyme disease experience extreme fatigue, which can be debilitating.

4. Headaches: Frequent headaches are another common symptom, sometimes accompanied by sensitivity to light.

If you suspect you may have Lyme disease due to these symptoms or exposure to ticks, it's essential to seek medical attention promptly.

Unusual Lyme Disease Symptoms

Lyme disease is notorious for its ability to mimic other health conditions. Unusual or atypical symptoms can be challenging to link to Lyme disease, and this makes diagnosis even more complex. Some of these unusual symptoms include:

- Cognitive Difficulties: Lyme disease can affect cognitive function, leading to difficulties with memory, concentration, and mental clarity.

- Muscle Aches: Unexplained muscle aches and pains can be a symptom of Lyme disease.

- Residual Symptoms: After completing Lyme disease treatment, some individuals experience lingering symptoms such as fatigue, joint and muscle aches, and cognitive difficulties. The cause of these residual symptoms is not completely understood.

These unusual symptoms can further complicate the diagnosis process, as they often overlap with other health conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect Lyme disease, it's vital to consult with a healthcare professional or Lyme Disease doctor.

Early Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Recognizing early symptoms of Lyme disease is crucial for timely treatment and recovery. The most well-known early symptom is the appearance of a bullseye rash at the site of the tick bite. However, not everyone develops this rash. Other early symptoms to be aware of include:

- Fatigue: Many individuals with Lyme disease experience extreme fatigue, which can significantly impact daily life.

- Fever: An unexplained fever can be an early sign of Lyme disease.

- Body Aches: Muscle and joint pain are common early symptoms.

- Headaches: Frequent headaches, sometimes with sensitivity to light, can be an early sign.

- Flu-like Symptoms: Lyme disease can often present with flu-like symptoms, including chills, sweats, and sore throat.

- Neurological Symptoms: Some individuals may experience dizziness and tingling in the hands and feet.

Late-Stage Lyme Disease Symptoms

Late-stage or chronic Lyme disease is a topic of controversy within the medical community. While some doctors may not consider it an active infection, others focus on managing the often debilitating symptoms. Late-stage symptoms of Lyme disease include:

- Severe Joint Pain: Joint pain can become more severe in late-stage Lyme disease.

- Neurological Symptoms: Individuals may experience memory problems, mood changes, and difficulty concentrating.

- Heart Problems: Lyme disease can lead to heart issues, such as heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat.

- Vision Problems: Blurred vision or eye inflammation can occur in late-stage Lyme disease.

- Neuropathy: Some individuals may develop neuropathy, which involves tingling, numbness, or burning sensations in the hands and feet.

- Muscle Weakness: Weakness in the muscles can make daily activities more challenging.

Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms

Chronic Lyme disease, also known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, refers to a collection of chronic inflammatory symptoms that persist after having had Lyme disease in the past. Although the term isn't universally recognized by mainstream medical organizations, it's essential to acknowledge that the symptoms are very real for those who experience them. Chronic Lyme disease symptoms may include:

- Chronic Fatigue: Pervasive fatigue that doesn't improve with rest.

- Muscle and Joint Pain: Persistent muscle and joint aches that can severely impact quality of life.

- Cognitive Issues: Ongoing cognitive difficulties, such as brain fog and memory problems.

- Emotional Distress: Mood changes, depression, and anxiety are common symptoms.

- Sleep Problems: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns can be associated with chronic Lyme disease.

Treatment Options and Challenges

Finding treatment for Lyme disease, especially in its later stages, can be a major challenge for many people. Because of the ongoing controversy surrounding the diagnosis of the disease, and because many doctors are prone to misdiagnosing or mistreating it, it's common for many doctors to assume that the patient is suffering from some other condition or is simply exaggerating their symptoms. 

That’s why it’s smart to seek out a Lyme Disease Specialist–specifically one with a history of helping patients with late-stage symptoms. These specialists have the experience and knowledge needed to accurately diagnose and treat your symptoms effectively and may be able to provide alternate resources or alternative treatments that other healthcare providers may be unaware of.

Get Treatment for Your Lyme Disease Symptoms!

If you suspect that you have Lyme disease, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional who can evaluate your symptoms and guide you through the diagnostic and treatment process. For individuals dealing with late-stage or chronic Lyme disease, seeking the expertise of a Lyme Disease specialist can be particularly valuable. 

For an accurate assessment of your condition, and comprehensive treatment, consider working with our very own, Dr. Bruce Fong, at the Sierra Integrative Medical Center in downtown Reno. Dr. Fong has been treating Lyme Disease for nearly two decades and has seen tremendous success in doing so. By combining personalized care with a holistic approach to treatment, Dr. Fong can pinpoint and treat the infection as well as address other symptoms that may be accompanying the disease. 

Remember, your symptoms are real, and there are professionals who can help treat them. Contact us today to find out how we can help treat your Lyme Disease symptoms!