If I had known the signs of Lyme Disease earlier in life, I would could have started my healing journey 8-10 years earlier! I can't go back into the past, but I CAN raise awareness on what the signs of Lyme Disease are so that others can start getting help sooner than I did. If you do not currently have any of these signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease, make sure and read our article on Protecting Yourself and Your Family From Tick Bites. If you DO have lyme disease and are looking for ways to get better, read my article on Lyme Disease Treatment.
Signs of Lyme Disease: Will there always be a Lyme Disease Rash?
The quick answer is no. In fact, if I knew this I might have looked into Lyme disease earlier. I had several people mention Lyme Disease to me based off my symptoms, but I didn't look into it until years later because I always associated Lyme Disease with ticks and the bullseye rash, and never remembered seeing one on my body.
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The truth is that many people with Lyme never exhibit a rash, often causing misdiagnosis for years. If you DO have the classic bullseye rash, this is definitely one of the big signs of Lyme Disease and you should get checked right away.
Other Signs of Lyme Disease
If you do not have a rash, lyme disease is still very possible. Here are some other common signs of Lyme Disease:
Fatigue was probably one of my most debilitating symptoms of Lyme Disease. This fatigue is different from regular fatigue that can come from strenuous activity or doing too much. This kind of fatigue is there no matter what you do.
You might need more sleep at night than the average person, or you might not be able to get through the day without naps. For me personally, I was waking up tired every morning (no matter how much sleep I got), and had to have midday naps to make it through the day.
Unfortunately, doctors can misdiagnosis you with depression or chronic fatigue…or as mine did…depression and “the effects of being a mom.”
Aches, Pains and Swollen Joints
This is one of those signs of Lyme Disease that can be constant, or can come and go, making it hard to know why it happens. The pain might also change from certain areas of the body, to others.
You may feel at times that you have arthritis, or you may experience sore muscles and joints after certain activity levels, above what the average person experiences. I didn't even realize that many of my pains were abnormal until I started doing some Lyme disease treatments.
I always just assumed my aches and pains were part of having a body. It wasn't until about a year after I started treatments, that I went to get a massage and was surprised not to be hurting everywhere I was touched.
Particularly, I commonly had pain in my back and shoulder areas. It also took my body a long time to recover if I participated in long hikes, or the one time I braved a half marathon.
Off and On Flu Like Symptoms
Flu-like symptoms are also common when discussing signs of Lyme Disease. Those with Lyme disease often feel like they get the “flu” more often than others, and have reoccurring episodes of headaches, dizziness and fever (or “chills”).
You may also have neck pain or sore throats. Flu symptoms are one of the first symptoms to watch for if you know you have been bitten by a tick.
Neurological signs and symptoms (Cognitive)
Many of my most concerning signs of Lyme Disease that led me to figure things out, were cognitive. These included
- difficulties concentrating or feeling like I had “A.D.D.”
- Someone would be talking to me and I felt like I just couldn't process the information. Eventually this led me to have some social anxiety because I was worried about my mind “drifting” in conversations, not being able to recall what someone was asking me, or feeling like people would feel like I was rude or just didn't care.
- Short-term memory issues or difficulties remembering a familiar name, place or item.
- Sometimes when I was driving, I would arrive somewhere but couldn't remember the last 5-10 minutes of my drive.
- Oftentimes I would go to get something in another room only to forget what I needed, and repeat the process several times.
Other Neurological Signs of Lyme Disease (physical)
Along with my cognitive signs of Lyme Disease, there were also physical ones that led my doctor to suspect M.S., such as:
- numbness in the limbs
- tingling and numbness in the head and/or face
- muscle weakness or paralysis (you may feel less balance or coordinated)
Light Sensitivity and Vision Changes
One of the signs of Lyme Disease can be sensitivity to bright or flashing lights, or changes in vision such as episodes of blurry vision. I experienced both of these, but only during times when my other Lyme Disease symptoms were at a high.
Because Lyme Disease affects the liver, issues with the skin can be another sign of Lyme Disease. You might have other rashes (besides the classic Lyme Rash), itchiness or discolored patches of skin.
I had rash episodes in the inside crease of my elbow that I could never figure out, and a couple of times got a rash on the corner of my eye.
Issues with the Heart
If the Lyme has spread to your heart muscles, heart problems can be another sign of Lyme Disease. The bacteria attacking your heart can cause palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pains and light-headedness.
My heart issues happened so sporadically and not very often, that it took me awhile to connect them with my other signs of Lyme Disease.
Changes in Mood and Behavior
Because Lyme Disease affects so many parts of the body (including your ability to think clearly), and is often misunderstood by others, those with Lyme Disease often experience changes in mood and behavior, including depression, anxiety and irritability.
The lack of quality sleep is also a contributor to these signs of Lyme Disease. Many seek help from their doctors only to be told they have “depression,” which only adds to the discouragement of the disease.
Not Everyone Experiences the Same Signs of Lyme Disease
The important thing to remember, is that not everyone with Lyme Disease experiences the same symptoms. Some may have all of the above symptoms, and some may only have a few, but to a more severe degree. Many times people go undiagnosed for years because of inaccurate testing, because they are unaware of the many signs of Lyme Disease, or because they know someone with Lyme Disease and their symptoms are not the exact same as theirs. Most people with Lyme Disease also suffer from other co-infections which will also effect which symptoms they experience more strongly than others.
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