Lyme Disease - A Three Stage Progressive Infection

I assume I'm pretty safe in guessing that most people are unaware that there are 3 stages of Lyme infection. The more you educate yourself about the symptoms of Lyme Disease, the earlier you could advocate for testing. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms that doctors don't have an explanation for or write off as stress or other diseases mentioned in an earlier post about misdiagnosis this information may be the key to a diagnosis. So read about the 3 stages and educate a friend about them :)

Stage 1: Early Localized - day of bite up to 4 weeks
In this stage of lyme infection, many patients have no symptoms. Others may experience:
- a Bulls-Eye Rash (erythema migrans)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Fatigue
- Headache and neck stiffness
- Fever and/or chills
- swollen lymph nodes

Stage 2: Early Disseminated - 4 weeks to 4 months
Stage 2, known as early disseminated, begins approximately 4 weeks after the initial bite by an infected tick. Many people have no symptoms prior to this stage, when more noticeable symptoms begin occuring. These symptoms may include:
- Significant fatigue
- Joint pain
- Skin rashes in several places on your body that develop as the infection spreads (not a Bulls Eye Rash)
- Heart palpitations/Irregular heart beat (in some cases severe heart problems have been reported)
- Pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart)
- Dizziness or fainting
- Meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain)
- Poor memory
- Difficult with concentration
- Swelling of the liver
- Carpal tunnel syndrome

- Bells Palsy (paralysis to one side of the face cause by paralysis to one of the facial nerves)
- Conjunctivitis
- Numbness, weakness or pain in the arms or legs
- Vision changes due to damage to deep tissues in the inner eye

Stage 3: Late Persistent or Chronic
Sadly, the majority of people now being diagnosed with Lyme Disease are in the third stage and are often experiencing heart, neurological and joint symptoms. Symptoms at this stage are vast! It would take me weeks to try and list them all. Below is a very incomplete list of commonly reported complications of chronic lyme infection:
- Swelling and pain in the joints (often knees)
- Chronic Lyme Arthritis, which causes recurring episodes of swelling, redness, and fluid buildup in one or more joints that last up to 6 months at a time
- Severe fatigue (often diagnosed as Fibromyalgia, Mononucleosis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
- Light sensitivity
- Optic nerve atrophy and eye swelling
- Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet or back
- Neurological changes, including problems with memory, mood, or sleep and sometimes problems speaking or retrieving words
- Anxiety or depression
- Dementia
- Psychotic episodes or episodes of confusion
- Paralysis
- Dysphagia (Swallowing/Feeding Disorders)
- Loss of motor control (Dyspraxia)

Top Mis-diagnoses:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson's Disease
- Alzheimer's
- Lou Gehrig's Disease /Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Chronic Fatique Syndrome
- Fibromyalgia
- Lupus
- Scleroderma
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Autism
- Irregular Heart Rythm, Angina, Heart Failure
- Eye Inflammatory Reactions
- Panic Attacks / Anxiety Disorders
- Depression
- Schizophrenia and/or Psychotic Episodes
- Obssessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Bell's palsy (Facial Paralysis)
- Blood Coagulation
- Pulmonary Embolism
- Meningitis
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Athritis
- Asymmetrical Hearing Loss
- Deafness (sometimes sudden)
- Tinitus (ringing in the ears)
- Brain Tumor or Aneurysm
- Cortical Blindness
- Photophobia (Light Sensitivity)
- Dementia
- Demylinating Disorders
- Miscarriage or Fetal Death
- Migraines / Severe Headaches
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Hypothyroidism
- Horner's Syndrome
- Influenza (in earlier stages)
- Vertigo (Dizziness)
- Tourette's Syndrome
- Syphilis
- Transient Ischemic Attack
- Stroke
- Transient left ventricular dysfunction
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Epilepsy (Seizure Disorders)
- Pericarditis
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

(Please note that is a VERY small list of the many diseases/disorders Lyme can mimic! Please do your research!)

Many people have emailed asking what they can do to help. Here's what you can do.....educate two friends about the stages and symptoms of Lyme Disease. Tell them to education two friends and ask those friends to educate two more friends. Let's start the cycle of education and bring attention to a disease millions are silently suffering from at this very moment and don't even know it!