What Are The Stages Of Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease has three distinct stages of infection, whereby a patient will exhibit different symptoms. Throughout the three stages, they may overlap in some patients whereas others hardly go through all three stages. So, the manifestation and development of Lyme disease vary from patient to patient. Regardless. It is important that you are aware of all the three stages and what to expect. This will help you keep track of the infection and how fast it is progressing. Adding to that, knowledge about the stage you are likely going through will be useful when it comes to managing the condition at that stage. To be more precise, the right treatment can be administered depending on the stage of infection and seriousness of the symptoms you’re experiencing. With that said, let us look at the stages of Lyme disease.
Stage 1 Lyme Disease: Early Localized Disease
The first stage of Lyme disease is referred to as the early localized disease. It is usually during the first days or weeks of infection from a tick bite. Normally, symptoms of the disease may begin as early as hours, days, a week or a month after the bite. The term ‘localized’ means that the infection has not yet spread throughout the body and can easily be treated. As a matter of fact, at this stage, Lyme disease can be cured with much ease.
The symptoms of the early localized disease (stage 1 Lyme disease) include;
A bull’s-eye-like rash, which indicates that the bacteria are already multiplying in the bloodstream. The rash isn’t painful and does not itch, but it is warm to touch.
- Headache and stiff neck
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Flu-like illness that is accompanied by chills and fever
- Muscle soreness and joint pain
- Sore throat
- Lack of energy
Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
This stage occurs after several weeks or months of infection. By the time a patient has reached stage 2 of the Lyme disease, the bacteria that causes the disease has already started spreading throughout the body. The skin, nervous system, joints, and heart may be compromised and the patient exhibits symptoms such as;
- The rash on the bitten area expands and other similar rashes may start appearing on other parts of the body.
- Flu-like symptoms including chills and fevers
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Vision changes (conjunctivitis)
- Muscle aches especially in the arms and legs and numbness as well
- Heart problems such as chest pain and palpitations
- Facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy)
- Headaches or fainting episodes
- Reduced concentration and poor memory
Stage 3 Lyme Disease: Late Persistent/Disseminated Lyme Disease
This is the final stage of the Lyme disease that results when the infection isn’t treated effectively during the first two stages. It may take months or even years for Lyme disease to progress to this stage. At this stage, the disease-causing bacteria has already spread to other body parts and the symptoms might be severe. Many patients usually develop chronic arthritis and serious cardiac and neurological symptoms. The indications of stage 3 Lyme disease are;
- Arthritis in joints and near the point of infection including swelling, redness and fluid build-up in the joints
- Pain in joints and tendons that comes and goes
- Severe headaches and migraines
- Heart rhythm disturbances
- Vertigo and dizziness
- A painful stiff neck
- Sleep problems
- Mental fogginess and reduced concentration
- Numbness in the limbs (arms, legs, hands, and feet)
- Feeling very tired
- Liver and eye inflammations as well as pericarditis, which rarely occur
It is evident that some symptoms are shared between the stages, which implies that the stages may overlap in some occurrences. However, the extremity of the symptoms is different with increased severity being observed in the last stage of Lyme disease. The bull’s-eye-like rash may or may not be present in the first stage, but may develop in the second. Therefore, for those who didn’t have a rash during the early localized disease stage, stage 2 or 3 symptoms may be their first sign of infection. In addition to that, sometimes symptoms may be dormant meaning the patient barely experiences any symptoms. Do not be fooled as that doesn’t mean the disease is gone.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Lyme Disease Stages: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html
- Mayo Clinic – Lyme Disease: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651