6 Ways Lyme Disease Affects Your Well-being

Sep 01, 2023
6 Ways Lyme Disease Affects Your Well-being
Lyme disease is the result of an infection from a bacteria that is transmitted to humans through a bite from a black-legged tick. The infection can cause long-lasting issues, even if it’s treated.

Borrelia burgdorferi is the official name of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. In Florida, the tick that carries this bacterium is the black-legged tick. Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. 

At Northeast Florida Internal MedicineElyssa Blissenback, MD and Lea-Anne Griffis, APRN, provide treatment for Lyme disease, including for patients who may have had the infection for a long time without realizing it. We can tailor a treatment plan to help you recover that takes into account your specific symptoms because not everyone who has Lyme disease has the same experience. 

Symptoms of Lyme disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divide the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease into those you’re likely to have 3-30 days following a bite from an infected tick and those that occur later. These symptoms can have an enormous impact on your overall well being. 

Early symptoms 

Although you may not notice anything odd about the bite itself, you may have fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, or swollen lymph nodes within a few days of being bitten. 

In 70-80% of people, a rash called an erythema migrans rash, or sometimes a bullseye rash, forms. You may expect that it would form around the bite, but that is not always the case. On average, the rash begins to form about seven days following a bite, and gradually expands until it’s about 12 inches across. 

Here are three ways early symptoms can affect your overall well being:

  1. Being sick with fever, chills, and aches makes it difficult to work or perform other day-to-day obligations
  2. It’s easy to mistake the symptoms for a common cold or flu and treat them with medications that won’t be effective in eradicating the infection and that could have side effects. 
  3. The skin irritation and rash can be worrisome and affect your self-confidence.

Later symptoms

It’s easy to see how you might think you have a cold or other virus with those early symptoms, especially if you either don’t have a bullseye rash or it forms somewhere you can’t see it easily like on your back or even on your scalp. When that happens, and you don’t get treatment in the first few days or weeks, other symptoms may develop. 

You may develop severe headaches and stiffness in your neck. Some people have arthritis with joint pain and swelling, especially in the large joints. Along with the joint pain, you may notice pain that comes and goes in your muscles, tendons, and bones. 

Some people experience facial palsy, which is the loss of muscle tone, drooping, or paralysis on one side of their face. Inflammation of the brain and spinal column is possible, as well as episodes of dizziness, nerve pain, and shooting pains, numbness or tingling in your extremities. 

Here are three ways the later symptoms of Lyme disease can affect your overall well-being: 

  1. If you have cognitive disruption, like brain fog, your work may be affected. 
  2. Aches and pains can make exercise erratic or impossible, which could affect your overall health. 
  3. Since psychological symptoms of Lyme are often misdiagnosed you may be prescribed medications that won’t be effective and could have serious side effects. 

Treatment of Lyme disease

Getting treatment early tends to be associated with better outcomes, so if you have a tick bite and then have a fever or other early symptoms, schedule an appointment so you can be tested. Treatment at that early stage is usually simply a course of antibiotics. 

However, for those who have had the infection for some time, it’s possible to develop post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, which can cause symptoms like brain fog, arthritis, fatigue, and pain that linger for months or even years. 

Along with those symptoms, other psychological issues can develop. For example, depression and anxiety are associated with Lyme disease, which may be misdiagnosed. 

At Northeast Florida Internal Medicine, we provide a thorough evaluation and address your particular symptoms. Our treatment plan is based on what you’re experiencing, and for how long. For example, if you’re dealing with pain, we may suggested physical therapy, as well as antibiotic therapy to clear the infection.

If you suspect you may have been bitten by a tick and you have symptoms of Lyme disease, don’t delay. Schedule an appointment with our office today.