Last Updated on May 19, 2021 by Lori Geurin
Find out everything you need to know about the 3 stages of Lyme disease, symptoms, signs, testing, and treatment in this comprehensive article.
Lyme disease is a hot topic in the U.S. and around the world. This is likely because Lyme is spreading at an alarming rate due to climate changes and other factors. In fact, between 2004 and 2009 the reported cases of Lyme rose 94%. Plus, the number of cases continues to climb today. Fortunately, people are starting to take notice of this alarming trend. But much more needs to be done because hundreds of thousands of people with untreated Lyme are suffering. This is why it’s crucial to know the symptoms and 3 stages of Lyme disease.
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(Want our FREE Lyme disease download that’ll give you the signs, symptoms, and stages of Lyme? Simply click the link below for the printable PDF.)
If Lyme continues to spread, often unrecognized and untreated, it won’t be long before everyone knows someone who has it. Lyme is now 6 times more common than AIDS and 1 1/2 times more common than breast cancer. It’s also more common than West Nile Virus, and other vector-borne diseases.
Table Of Contents
- Untreated Lyme
- What Are The 3 Stages Of Lyme Disease?
- Signs Symptoms And Stages Of Lyme Disease
- Stage 1. Early Localized Lyme Disease (1 to 4 weeks)
- Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease Infection (1 to 4 months)
- Stage 3: Late Persistent Lyme Disease Or Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms
- Late-Stage Lyme Disease Recovery
- Lyme Disease Test
- Lyme Disease Treatment
- More About Symptoms And Stages Of Lyme
- Lyme Disease Guide
- The Takeaway
- Additional Lyme Resources
Untreated Lyme Disease
Knowing what to watch for is critical. I lived with untreated Lyme for nearly 2 years and chronic Lyme for almost a decade now. I don’t want anyone to have to experience what I have been through.
But I’m not the only one. Far from it. In fact, according to the CDC, there are 476,000 yearly cases (not counting all the cases that are undiagnosed and unreported).
What Are The 3 Stages Of Lyme Disease?
Keep reading to learn the signs, symptoms, and 3 stages of Lyme disease so you know what to watch for. I truly hope this will help you protect yourself and your loved ones. When it comes to Lyme disease, prevention is key.
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Signs Symptoms And Stages Of Lyme Disease
STAGE 1. Early Localized Lyme Disease (1 to 4 weeks)
This stage can develop from days to weeks after becoming infected.
Symptoms may include:
- Rashes – Less than 50% of Lyme patients remember developing a rash. Sometimes the rash looks like a bull’s-eye. This is referred to as erythema migrans (EM). It’s actually a myth that you must have a bull’s eye rash to have Lyme (1). You don’t have to get a bull’s eye rash to have Lyme. I didn’t ever see a bull’s eye rash but have developed many unusual red and splotchy rashes since the tick bites. For more on rashes, keep reading below.
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever and chills, fatigue, headache, pain, or stiffness in the neck and swollen lymph nodes (2).
- Nausea, dizziness, and vomiting
Related: Migraine Triggers And Risk Factors
STAGE 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease Infection (1 to 4 months)
This stage develops when the disease is not found and/or treated properly soon after infection. At this point, the infection can begin to attack the joints, heart, nervous system, and skin.
Symptoms may include:
- More rashes may start to appear in different parts of the body due to the infection spreading
- Paralysis of the facial muscles, or Bell’s Palsy
- Headaches or migraines
- Painful, swollen joints, such as the knees
- Heart palpitations or Lyme carditis
- Conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye
- Meningitis, or swelling of the brain
- Unable to tolerate exercise
STAGE 3: Chronic Lyme Disease (Or Late Persistent Lyme Disease) Symptoms
Failure to treat Lyme promptly can cause damage to the brain, joints, and nervous system. This is the most serious stage.
Symptoms of chronic Lyme may include:
- Extreme exhaustion, not relieved by sleeping or resting
- Inability to control facial muscles
- Heart problems, such as pericarditis
- Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
- Arthritis, often in the larger joints, such as the knees
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty thinking or reasoning
- Difficulty speaking
- Getting lost, even in familiar areas
- Anxiety, panic attacks
- Sensitivity to sound, light, and smells
- Headaches and migraines
- Mood swings, depression
- Sleep disorders
- Migrating joint and muscle pain
- Difficulty processing information
- Difficulty hearing
- Vision difficulties
- Weight gain or loss
- “Air hunger”
- Pain in the chest or ribs
- “Heart block”
- Neck pain, stiffness, and cracking
- Night sweats
- Erectile dysfunction
- Heart murmur or valve prolapse
- Light-headedness, dizziness
- Menstrual irregularity
Now that you’re familiar with the signs, symptoms, and stages of Lyme, let’s take a look at some important factors about chronic Lyme, testing, and treatment.
Chronic Lyme Disease Recovery
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Lyme disease. Chronic Lyme results when a patient is treated too late because of misdiagnosis or treatment failure. At these advanced stages of Lyme disease, the patient’s health and quality of life are often critically affected by many symptoms often including the neurological system.
This late disseminated stage is more complex to treat and can be disabling to the patient. It’s a good idea to find a doctor who specializes in treating patients with tick-borne diseases. They’re called Lyme literate doctors. Be sure you do your homework and ask for the cost of care upfront as some of their services aren’t covered by insurance, depending on the treatment and doctor.
Here are some resources to help you find a Lyme literate MD:
- Lyme Disease And Tick-Borne Disease Specialists
- Lyme Literate Doctor Search
- Finding A Lyme Literate Healthcare Provider
Lyme Disease Test
Wondering how to test for Lyme disease? Because the diagnostic tests are not very accurate, Lyme can be very difficult to diagnose. This is especially true also because the early symptoms mimic the flu and other common illnesses.
If a patient has the bullseye rash then they can likely be diagnosed with Lyme from that alone. But many times it’s not present, or if they have a rash it may look different.
There are antibody tests available but antibodies take weeks to develop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a two-tiered testing approach, but there are many problems with it because of inaccuracies. Many people who actually have Lyme have tests that come back negative in the early stages of their illness. If these people aren’t tested again, or if the inaccurate testing continues to fail, their health, well-being, and (often) livelihood suffers.
Lyme Disease Treatment
The first line of treatment for Lyme is doxycycline. Other antibiotics have proven effective against borrelia and may be used too. And sometimes intravenous antibiotics are used for difficult cases. The patient’s response to treatment depends on their specific health and stage of the disease.
Every person responds differently. And side effects to treatment can be quite harsh in some cases, including Herxheimer’s reactions.
Because of the complexities of the disease, especially once it enters the later stages, a variety of treatment options may need to be explored. For this, the patient may find it more tolerable to approach treatment from a holistic, natural approach.
There are several natural herbal Lyme protocols available. I used Dr. Lee Cowden’s Herbal Protocol.
Here are 21 Strategies To Fight Lyme Disease Naturally you may find useful.
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More About Symptoms And Stages Of Lyme
Several years ago when I had many of the symptoms above and none of the doctors could figure out what was wrong with me I was desperate for answers. I spent many hours researching on my own, working to figure out what was causing all of my health problems.
Thankfully, I was eventually tested for Lyme and co-infections and diagnosed with Lyme, tularemia, and rocky mountain spotted fever. Yet, so many people are still searching and wondering why they’re suffering from the symptoms above.
Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, autoimmune conditions, or chronic fatigue syndrome – as I was at first. I was even referred to be tested for Multiple Sclerosis.
But, like me, you wonder, what is causing all of this? Why am I in pain and exhausted all the time?
Lyme Disease Guide
I created a Lyme resource guide to help answer your questions. The guide gives you:
- more details about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases
- valuable information on diagnosis and testing
- where to find financial help for Lyme patients
- prevention tips
- instructions for how to properly remove a tick
- and much more…
all based on research. You can check out the product by clicking the image below.
Lyme Disease 101 Ebook
Summary – Symptoms And 3 Stages Of Lyme
This list of signs, symptoms,
My friend, if you are struggling with an illness and the doctors haven’t been able to help you, you may want to study the lists above to help rule out (or in) Lyme disease. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time outdoors or live or work in a tick-infested area.
And of course, if you know you’ve been bitten by a tick and aren’t feeling well, please get yourself checked out immediately. Keep in mind that anyone can get Lyme and no one is immune.
IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED OR FEEL SUICIDAL…
- Call 911.
- Go to the closest emergency room.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (Available 24/7)
- Text HELP to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. (Available 24/7)
Do you have any of the symptoms above? Or do you have an unexplained illness and haven’t been able to find answers? Share your experience below. X, Lori
Additional Lyme Disease Resources
For more information on the signs, symptoms, and 3 stages of Lyme disease, be sure to check out:
- Justin Bieber’s Lyme Battle Exposes Ugly Truth
- Warning: Lyme Disease Is Spreading Faster Than AIDS
- Everyone With Lyme Disease Has A Story
- Lyme Disease Awareness
- Warning: Lyme Disease Is Spreading Faster Than AIDS
- Author Marlena Lewis Writes About Life Struggles And Lyme Disease
- Experts Caution Increased Lyme Disease Risk: Reports Of Possible Tickmageddon On The Rise
- How To Sleep Better With Lyme Disease
- 16 Vital Facts About Lyme Disease: A National Epidemic
- Why Do People With Lyme Disease Not Catch Colds And The Flu?
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Finally, the information provided in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat, prevent, diagnose, or cure any disease or health problem.