If you’ve been bitten by a tick, you may start to experience Lyme disease symptoms anywhere from 2-30 days after the initial bite. Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis, meaning that your treating physician will take into account your past medical history and your current symptoms. Additional laboratory tests can be run to determine a Lyme diagnosis, though many tests currently being administered by general practitioners are not very reliable. Many experts believe that less than 25% of patients with early Lyme disease and less than 10% with chronic Lyme are being properly diagnosed.
Also, keep in mind that you may or may not even be aware that you were bitten. Ticks inject an anesthetic to numb the bite area, so you rarely feel the bite. In some cases, they can bite, feed on your blood and drop off without you ever knowing they were there!
If you have any of these Lyme disease symptoms or live in an area with a high prevalence of Lyme disease, then get tested and request a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which is currently the most accurate determination of Borrelia infection.
Early Lyme Disease Symptoms Can Include:
• Bullseye rash (rash occurs in
less than 50% of patients)
• Flu-like symptoms
• Lack of energy and fatigue
• Headaches, especially at
the base of the skull and neck
• Muscle and joint pain
• Stiff neck
• Swollen lymph nodes
Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms:
• Extreme fatigue
• Unexplained rashes and allergies
• Migrating pain in arms and legs
• Weakness and/or numbness in the arms
• Twitching and severe muscle and
• Severe or recurring cervicogenic
• Vertigo, dizziness, and poor balance
• Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
• Poor memory and concentration
• Extreme irritability and frequent
• Vision problems, including blurred
vision, double vision, and floaters
• Heart conditions, including pericarditis
and extreme palpitations
• Panic attacks and mood disorder
including severe depression
• Problems speaking, word retrieval
problems, word block
• Progressive dementias
• Motor neuron disease, similar to ALS
• Gullain-Barre-like syndrome
• Multiple sclerosis-like syndrome
Chronic Lyme disease can manifest itself as nearly anything. The bottom line is if you have any unexplained neurological, muscular, vision, or mental issues and you suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick, then get tested for Lyme disease and demand the right test!
How Do I Get Tested for Lyme Disease?
First, go to your physician armed with knowledge. The vast majority of general practitioners know very little about Lyme disease or its detection. Unfortunately, what they do know is largely inaccurate. There are direct and indirect tests that can be used to test for Lyme. Direct tests such as the Lyme dot blot assay (LDA) or the PCR look for the presence of Borrelia antigens or nucleic acids. Indirect tests (such as Elisa, IFA, and the Western Blot) look for the patient’s immune response to Borrelia. It is important to note that not all ticks are infected with the disease. However, the ticks themselves can be tested for Borrelia and other tick-borne diseases using the PCR test.
Indirect testing methods are the most commonly used by physicians in the United States, and they are highly variable in their accuracy. This is because they look for your immune response to the Borrelia organism and not the actual “bug” itself. Demand the direct testing methods, which are much more effective at detecting the Borrelia pathogen and giving you a clinical and accurate diagnosis.
The Bottom Line on Lyme
Lyme disease is a very serious threat to those of us who love the outdoors and spend lots of time enjoying it. I can tell you from personal experience that arming yourself with a great deal of knowledge and being extremely vigilant and careful not to be bitten by a tick is vitally important. I have spent the last 20 years of my life experiencing a long list of Lyme symptoms. I was misdiagnosed dozens of times and had two “false” negative tests that delayed my diagnosis for nearly 15 years.
If you are in the woods or even your own backyard, protect yourself. Use tick-repellent sprays and wear tick-proof clothing. If you find or even suspect that you or a family member have been bitten by a tick, be very diligent about the symptoms of Lyme or other tick-borne diseases. If you have any suspicions at all, go to a healthcare provider and get tested using the right test.
If I had known these things 20 years ago, I could have avoided tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs, and my quality of life would have been tremendously better. Lyme disease is scary, and it takes a toll on your life and your family. Please take precautions to avoid getting it at all costs and seek the correct treatment if you suspect that you have this egregious affliction.
Learn how to prevent tick bites and remove ticks HERE.
Written by Scott Vance, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – CEO