About Lyme disease

Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacteria known as Borrelia. The bacteria, a spirochete, is transmitted when an individual is bitten by a vector ie tick.  Lyme disease can impact many bodily systems and organs and can, in some cases, mimic other illnesses ie lupus.  As well as giving people Lyme disease, the ticks often also transmit other diseases (co-infections).  We thank the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation for their list of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Lyme Disease is generally categorised into acute and chronic stages of disease, each with varying symptoms.

Acute Lyme disease

There are many symptoms associated with acute (early signs of) Lyme disease. These signs are (but not limited to) flu-like symptoms with fevers, fatigue, swollen glands, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, headaches, stiff neck, light sensitivity and may include Bell’s palsy and other neurological symptoms.

Erythema Migrans (or bulls-eye rash)

The bulls-eye rash (erythema migrans) of Lyme disease is only present in approximately 50% of cases.

Dr Richard Horowitz indicates that Lyme disease can present as an acute or chronic illness.  He cautions - rashes do not always present as perfectly bulls-eye. Solid rashes, and solid spreading rashes without a distinct centre, can also indicate a Lyme disease infection.   Furthermore, many patients do not develop a rash at all, nor remember a bite.

If you are concerned you may have Lyme disease start by printing and completing Dr Richard Horowitz's questionnaire.  It's a great starting place for clarity and discussion with your Lyme-aware doctor.

Chronic Lyme disease

The following symptoms can be attributed to Lyme Disease when it has reached the Chronic stage of disease.

Head, face and neckEyes and visionEars and hearingDigestive and excretory systemsMusculoskeletal systemRespiratory and circulatory systemsNeurological systemPsychological well-beingMental capabilityReproduction and sexualiltyGeneral well-being
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Headache, mild or severe, Seizures
  • Pressure in head, white matter lesions in brain (MRI)
  • Facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy, Homer’s syndrome)
  • Tingling of nose, (tip of) tongue, cheek or facial flushing
  • Stiff or painful neck
  • Twitching of facial or other muscles
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Dental problems (unexplained)
  • Sore throat, clearing throat a lot, phlegm ( flem ), hoarseness, runny nose
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Increased floating spots
  • Pain in eyes, or swelling around eyes
  • Oversensitivity to light
  • Flashing lights/peripheral waves/phantom images in corner of eyes
  • Decreased hearing in one or both ears, plugged ears
  • Buzzing in ears
  • Pain in ears, oversensitivity to sounds
  • Ringing in one or both ears
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Irritable bladder (trouble starting, stopping) or interstitial cystitis
  • Upset stomach (nausea or pain) or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Bone pain, joint pain or swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Stiffness of joints, back, neck, tennis elbow
  • Muscle pain or cramps (fibromyalgia)
  • Shortness of breath, can't get full/satisfying breath, cough
  • Chest pain or rib soreness
  • Night sweats or unexplained chills
  • Heart palpitations or extra beats
  • Endocarditis, heart blockage
  • Tremors or unexplained shaking
  • Burning or stabbing sensations in the body
  • Fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, weakness, peripheral neuropathy or partial paralysis
  • Pressure in the head
  • Numbness in body, tingling, pinpricks
  • Poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking
  • Increased motion sickness
  • Lightheadedness, wooziness
  • Seizures - often 'atypical'
  • Mood swings, irritability, bi-polar disorder
  • Unusual depression
  • Disorientation (getting or feeling lost)
  • Feeling as if you are losing your mind
  • Over-emotional reactions, crying easily
  • Too much sleep, or insomnia
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Narcolepsy, sleep apnea
  • Panic attacks, anxiety
  • Memory loss (short or long term)
  • Confusion, difficulty in thinking
  • Difficulty with concentration or reading
  • Going to the wrong place
  • Speech difficulty (slurred or slow)
  • Stammering speech
  • Forgetting how to perform simple tasks
  • Loss of libido
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Unexplained menstral pain, irregularity
  • Unexplained breast pain, discharge
  • Testicular or pelvic pain
  • Phantom smells
  • Unexplained weight gain, loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Swollen glands/lymph nodes
  • Unexplained fevers (high or low grade)
  • Continual infections (sinus, kidney, eye, etc)
  • Symptoms seem to change, come and go
  • Pain migrates (moves) to different body parts
  • Early on, experienced a "flu-like" illness, after which you have not since felt well.
  • Low body temperature
  • Allergies/chemical sensitivities
  • Increased effect from alcohol and possible worse hangover

Back to top