Early Stages of Infection
Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection that can have debilitating, lifelong effects. When treated in its earlier stages, a prognosis is better, so it’s important to be watchful for signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
During the earliest stages of infection, the most common sign of Lyme disease is the red, expanding rash called erythema migraines (EM), often described as a “bull’s eye” rash because the border and center remain red while the area between clears. There may or may not be a red bump at the center. The rash usually feels warm but is not itchy.
In addition, people may experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle pains.
As the Infection Spreads
A few weeks after infection, you may experience other symptoms, such as secondary rashes, pain and swelling in your larger joints, such as knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows. The infection may also cause neurological effects, leading to facial paralysis, and even swelling of the membranes around the brain and spine (meningitis).
Sometimes Lyme disease will affect your heart, leading to irregular heartbeat, which you may notice as heart palpitations or dizziness.
Effects Lingering from Infection
If your Lyme disease isn’t treated, there’s a good chance you will continue to experience symptoms for years after the infection, including arthritis. Arthritis is pain and swelling in the joints. A much smaller proportion develops neurological symptoms, including tingling in the hands and feet.
Even if treated, many people, perhaps 10-20% or people experience what is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), such as joint pains, cognitive difficulties, sleep problems, and fatigue. This might be due to the scope of damage that Lyme disease inflicts on the body, and is not due to lingering infection.
Lyme Disease in Colorado
No human cases of Lyme disease have originated in Colorado. If you haven’t been to regions where Lyme disease is found, chances are you aren’t suffering symptoms of Lyme disease. Most cases of tick-borne illnesses in Colorado are Colorado tick fever. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is possible, but relatively rare, here.
If you are suffering symptoms that you think might be Lyme disease, talk to a doctor. If you are looking for a primary care doctor in Littleton, please call or schedule an appointment with Dr. Andy Fine.