Lyme disease is caused by bacteria passed to you during the bite of a deer tick. Because the tick is so small, most people with Lyme disease do not remember being bitten. Since tests for Lyme disease are not always accurate early in the disease, the diagnosis can be hard to make. If the disease is suspected and the tests are negative, repeat testing may be required.
If untreated, Lyme disease may affect many parts of the body over months to years. Not everyone will have all the symptoms.
The first symptoms may appear within a few days to a month after the tick bite. These symptoms include a round red rash that grows up to 12 inches across and looks like a bull's-eye target with darker outer ring and a darker center. There may fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and headache. This first stage may be skipped in 20-30% of infected persons. It goes away on its own, even without treatment.
If the first symptoms were not treated, new symptoms may appear weeks to months after the bite. These symptoms include episodes of joint pain and swelling (especially the knees). Chronic arthritis develops in about 10% of these people.
Later, there may be weakness in an arm, leg or one side of the face, meningitis (headache, fever and neck pain), numbness and tingling in the arms or legs, confusion, and memory loss.
When the symptoms of Lyme disease are treated early enough, they can be stopped. Sometimes a second or third course of antibiotics may be needed if symptoms persist.
1) If oral antibiotics have been prescribed, it is very important that you take them exactly as directed until they are completely gone.
2) You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. [ NOTE : If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.] (Aspirin should never be used in anyone under 18 years of age who is ill with a fever. It may cause severe liver damage.)
FOLLOW UP with your doctor as directed.
GET PROMPT MEDICAL ATTENTION if any of the following occur:
-- Current symptoms get worse
-- Unexplained fever, neck pain or stiffness, or headache
-- Arm, leg or facial weakness
-- Irregular or rapid heart beat
-- Joint pain or swelling
-- Numbness and tingling in the arms or legs, confusion or memory loss