Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease

Early symptoms

Many people withearly-stage Lyme disease develop a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite, usually aroundthree to 30 days after being bitten. This is known as erythema migrans.

The rash is often described as looking like a bull's-eye on a dart board. The affected area of skin will be red and the edges may feel slightly raised.

The size of the rash canvary significantly and it may expand over several days or weeks. Typically it'saround 15cm (6 inches) across, but it can be much larger or smaller than this. Some people may develop several rashes in different parts of their body.

However,around one in three people with Lyme disease won't develop this rash.

Some people with Lyme disease also experience flu-like symptoms in the early stages, such as tiredness (fatigue), muscle pain, joint pain, headaches , a high temperature (fever), chills and neck stiffness .

Later symptoms

More serious symptoms may develop several weeks, months or even years later if Lyme disease is left untreated or is not treated early on. Thesecan include:

  • pain and swelling in the joints (inflammatory arthritis )
  • problems affecting the nervous system such asnumbness and pain in your limbs, paralysis of your facial muscles, memory problems and difficulty concentrating
  • heart problems such asinflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis) , heart block and heart failure
  • inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord ( meningitis ) which can causea severe headache, a stiff neck and increased sensitivity to light

Some of theseproblems will get better slowly with treatment, although they can persist if treatment is started late.

A few people with Lyme disease go on to developlong-term symptoms similar to those of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome .This is known as post-infectious Lyme disease. It's not clear exactly why this happens, but it's likely to be related to overactivity of your immune system rather than persistent infection.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dez 2018