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What Happens When Lyme Disease Is Left Untreated?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to human beings by the bite of infected ticks. The bacteria namely Borrelia burgdorferi and borrelia mayonii are carried by deer ticks. The bacterium enters your body through the bite; it enters the skin and then grows in your blood. The common symptoms of the disease are rash, fever, chills, fatigue, headache and many others similar to flu. It is diagnosed by ELISA test and western blot test. It is managed with antibiotics and painkillers.

What Happens When Lyme Disease Is Left Untreated?

What Happens When Lyme Disease Is Left Untreated?

If the Lyme disease is not treated in time or left untreated, it leads to several complications in your body. These complications are serious and become life-threatening in some cases. These symptoms take weeks, months, and years to develop in your body. These complications are-

Inflammatory Arthritis– this condition is marked by pain, stiffness, and inflammation of the joint especially knee joint without any other cause.

Meningitis– Untreated Lyme disease may lead to meningitis. It is marked by the inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. It is represented by symptoms like a severe headache, a stiff neck, and oversensitivity to light.

Neurological Problems– some patient develop neurological problems such as numbness, tingling sensation and shooting pain in the extremities and face. Some develop Bell’s palsy characterized by drooping of eyelids in one side of the face, defective vision and hearing with numbness in the face and memory problems. Some may develop stress, anxiety, and depression after dealing with the symptoms of Lyme disease from a long time.

Heart Ailments– some untreated cases of Lyme disease may cause heart problems like an inflammatory condition of the heart (pericarditis) and heart muscles (myocarditis). This may complicate into heart block or heart failure.

These symptoms can get relieved gradually with treatment if delivered in time.

Some patients of Lyme disease may develop fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue symptoms after the infection. This condition is known as post-infectious Lyme disease. The exact reason behind this is not known but it is assumed that it may appear due to hyper activity of the immune system.

Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that spread through the bite of an infected tick. Ticks are small insects that are found in woodland and grassy areas. They survive on the blood of mammals and birds. Lyme disease is transmitted by a black-legged tick called deer tick infected by causative bacteria. The causative bacteria of Lyme disease are Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii in United States and Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii in Asia and Europe.

The ticks are so small that many of us cannot see or feel them with naked eyes. Many people who are bitten by ticks do not develop Lyme disease. The tick must be attached on your body for 36 to 48 hours or more to transmit the bacteria. The bacteria enter your body via skin and spreads through blood. The symptoms of the disease appear in 3- 30 days after the bite. The symptoms can come and go.


The symptoms of Lyme disease are-

  • A rash appears at the site of tick bite which is known as erythema migrans. It appears like a bull’s eye on the dartboard. It may be present in other parts of the body in few patients with Lyme disease.
  • Flu-like symptoms also develop in some people with Lyme disease. These are high fever, headaches, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, swelling in the lymph nodes and stiffness in the neck.


Lyme disease is a bacterial disease whose symptoms are similar to flu and are spread by the bite of an infected deer tick. If it is left untreated, it may cause serious ailments like inflammatory arthritis, neurological ailments, facial palsy, neuropathy, meningitis, impaired memory, and heart irregularities even heart failure or heart block.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Lyme Disease: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html
  2. Mayo Clinic – Lyme Disease: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651
  3. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – Lyme Disease: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease
  4. NHS – Lyme Disease: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/malaria/
  5. John Hopkins Medicine – Lyme Disease: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/lyme-disease

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 31, 2023

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