Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease can appear anywhere from 3 to 30 days after a tick bite, with the most distinctive symptom being a large, red bull’s-eye rash. The rash may also be small or resemble hives, poison ivy or fleabites. Only about 70 to 80 percent of people who get Lyme disease get a rash, so it’s also important to watch for other symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen glands or stiff neck
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite

When Lyme disease goes unrecognized and untreated, later stages can affect nearly every part of the body. Symptoms include:

  • Joint inflammation and arthritis
  • Nerve pain
  • Facial nerve disorders, such as Bell’s palsy
  • Meningitis (infection of the brain or spinal cord)
  • Myopericarditis (inflammation of the heart)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Eye inflammation
  • Confusion, disorientation and memory loss

Symptoms of the later stage may mimic those of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and depression, so it’s important to have a thorough medical exam. Tell your doctor if you have been camping or spend time outdoors. The longer you wait before the diagnosis, the worse the side effects may be.

Some people develop post-Lyme disease syndrome (PLDS), which is characterized by chronic joint and nerve pain, fatigue and impaired memory. Ultimately, most people with PLDS make a full recovery.