Lyme Disease | Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

One sign of Lyme disease is a rash, which may appear 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. This rash usually starts at the site of the tick bite. It may begin as a small red spot and grow larger. The center may fade, creating a "bull's eye" or ring appearance, but this is not always the case. Some people with Lyme disease have many red spots. The rash may be tender or feel warm to the touch.

 Other symptoms of Lyme disease in its early stage include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle aches

Rarely, early-stage Lyme disease can spread to the heart or the nervous system. If Lyme disease spreads to the heart, the person may feel an irregular or slow heartbeat. The spread of Lyme disease to the nervous system can cause the face to droop (a condition called Bell's palsy), numbness in your arms and legs or swelling of the membranes surrounding the brain (called meningitis).

What about the later stages of Lyme disease?

If Lyme disease isn't treated, it can spread to other parts of the body. The symptoms of late-stage Lyme disease include arthritis (painful, swollen joints) and nervous system problems. Lyme arthritis often affects only one of the large joints, such as the knee. Sometimes it may affect more than one joint.

 Although rare, the symptoms of the nervous system disorder caused by late-stage Lyme disease may include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Loss of memory
  • Muscle weakness

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 09/00

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