Lyme disease is an infectious disease which is caused by a bacterium known as borrelia bacteria. Hence, the disease is also known as Lyme borreliosis. This disease is spread by ticks, known as deer tick.
What Are The Long Term Effects Of Lyme Disease?
The long-term effects of Lyme disease, if untreated or inadequately treated, can vary from arthritis to severe neuropathy. Impaired memory can be seen in some cases and even heart is affected in some others. It is a disease which can cause serious long term effects if untreated or improperly treated.
There are some factors which can increase the risk of getting the Lyme disease. If one spends a lot of time in woods or grasslands, it creates a risk factor for Lyme disease, as ticks dwell more in this type of areas. Also, ticks get attached easily to the bare flesh. Hence, it is advisable to wear full clothing while going to a ticks-infested place. Also, protect your pets from ticks by keeping them away from grass and tall plants. If at all you see a tick on the body, it should be removed promptly and properly. If the tick stays on the body attached for more than 36 hours, it is likely to cause infection. Ticks being attached for less than that period usually do not cause infection.
The common sign of infection is a red area on the place of the insect bite. This red area looks like a bull’s eye, with the tick bite as the center and the red area expanding on the skin. This expansion of red area is known as erythema migrans (EM). The EM appears on the place of the insect bite, around one week after the tick has caused the bite. The rash does not present with any itching or pain. Sometimes, there can be fever and headaches. Also, some people can experience tiredness. If this condition is not adequately treated, it may result in severe symptoms like facial paralysis, partial or complete, severe joint pains, headaches and neck stiffness.
Lyme disease may affect multiple organs and systems in our body. And hence, it is responsible for producing a wide range of symptoms, which are related to the affected organs. The incubation period for the bacteria may range from one to two weeks, from infection to symptom onset.
Early and Later Stages of Lyme Disease
In the early stages of Lyme disease, when the infection has not yet spread to the body, but only the place of tick bite is affected, one can see a red spot, with a circular rash all around it which is outwardly expanding. This is known as erythema migrans (EM), which looks like a bull’s eye. The rash is generally not painful. This type of rash is also known as target lesion. In this early infection stage, there can be muscle pain or soreness, fever and fatigue, and headaches. Rash is present in most of the cases, however, even if the rash is not present, the disease can still spread to the next stage.
In the later stages of Lyme disease, when the infection has just started to spread in the blood, the EM can develop at other places on the body, which has no direct connection with the original insect bite. Severe joint pain may start and may occur in bouts. Sometimes, a long period after the infection, people can get affected by symptoms like neck stiffness, which could be indicative of meningitis, facial palsy-on one or both sides of the face, weakness in the limbs and soreness and impairment of muscular function.
There are a few other symptoms of Lyme disease which are not very common, but can be witnessed by some affected persons. These might include irregular heartbeats, arrhythmia, and liver inflammation. Severe tiredness is seen in many affected persons.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lyme Disease https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma.html
- Mayo Clinic. Lyme Disease https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Lyme Disease https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease