Many of us aren’t very good at going to the doctor at the best of times; apart from the hypochondriacs among us, most normal people usually put off a trip to the doctors until it’s absolutely necessary. Although we all know we should go as soon as we notice a symptom, many times, it’s easier to let it slide until it can’t be ignored. Occasionally, this kind of attitude can have very serious consequences for our health, as if we let things go for too long, they have a chance to expand into our systems, sometimes without us even knowing about it. This is exactly what happens with Lyme disease, a controversial disorder that has currently infected hundreds of thousands of Americans in every state but Hawaii.
Lyme disease has been allowed to become so prominent in the U.S. because many medical professionals aren’t fully trained in how to deal with it. In fact, the chronic form of the disorder is rarely acknowledged by most of the medical community at large, and the acute form is treated with an antibiotic that may or may not eradicate the infection, depending on how early it’s caught. The disease is spread by ticks, and the trouble is that Lyme becomes far more potent and harder to treat the longer it’s left in the system. Some patients don’t show any true symptoms for years, at which point it’s incredibly hard to contain and dispel with just antibiotics. Here are the top five signs you should watch out for; don’t be afraid of asking your doctor for a specific Lyme test if you’re worried about any of them.
1 – A Bullseye Rash
This is the best indicator of Lyme that we currently know of – a distinctive rash that forms in the shape of a bullseye, with a red patch in the centre, surrounded by an outer red ring. Lyme is the only condition that forms this distinctive rash, and as such, it’s one of the best indicators we have that Lyme is present. The problem with the rash is that it’s an immediate symptom that is often not noticed by the patient immediately after the tick bite. Ticks make it their mission to find nooks and crannies on the host’s body where they won’t easily be noticed, making the subsequent rash also hard to spot. Despite this, the rash is still one of the prime symptoms of early Lyme, so if you spot it, request a Lyme test immediately.
2 – Flu Symptoms Accompanied by a Rash
Another prominent symptom of Lyme are flu-like symptoms. Of course, everyone gets the flu at some point in their lives, and you shouldn’t immediately suspect Lyme as soon as you come down with a fever. However, along with the bullseye rash, flu-like symptoms are a major indicator of acute Lyme. So if you’ve been walking in the woods, tall grass, or even spent some time outside in rural areas, and you suddenly come down with the flu a couple of days later, it might be prudent to suggest a Lyme test. This is especially pertinent if you have any kind of rash whatsoever; although a bullseye variant is the most common, Lyme rashes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
3 – Chronic Joint Pain
As Lyme infects the system, the body fights back against the invasion. This prolonged resistance actually serves to heighten the suffering of chronic Lyme patients, as it inflames the joints, causing sustained aches, pains, and discomfort. If you’re suffering from joint pain and have been for some time, it’s worth checking to see if it’s potentially Lyme. Many types of maladies can cause joint issues, including numerous degenerative diseases. Ironically, chronic Lyme is often misdiagnosed as one of these diseases; many people across America with MS or fibromyalgia have in fact got chronic Lyme. So even if you’ve been diagnosed already with something else, it’s worth investigating about a possible Lyme infection being the root cause of your issues.
4 – Cognitive Decline
Some of the lesser-talked about symptoms of Lyme are neurological-based. About 15% of patients will develop them, but again, they are often mistaken for and misdiagnosed as totally unrelated conditions. These are a relatively common occurrence in the advanced stages of Lyme, as the bacteria takes some time to invade the brain, and don’t usually present themselves in the initial acute stages. A facial palsy is consistent symptom, which constitutes paralysis in one side of the face; this is also sometimes called Bell’s palsy. Other prominent symptoms include visual disturbances, brain fog, numbness and tingling. These symptoms are also common in many other disorders, but if your doctors aren’t finding a reason for them, a Lyme test is certainly called for.