Lyme Disease – Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Lyme disease is a debilitating disease that is difficult to diagnose. Physicians rely on ELISA — enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay – to detect the bacterium that causes the disease. However, this test has a high incidence of false negatives, meaning many patients struggle to get an accurate diagnosis.
People with Lyme disease usually get an expanding red rash that sometimes resembles a bull’s-eye at the point of infection. If left untreated, the infection can spread and cause rashes in other parts of the body. Some people may also develop nerve problems, arthritis, or other disorders. But even if Lyme disease isn’t caught until later stages, most people fully recover after treatment with antibiotics.
If left untreated, symptoms of Lyme disease can last months or years. Symptoms of Lyme disease can include
- Fever or chills
- Muscle and joint pain, spasms, or weakness
- Numbness or tingling
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Skin rash
- Cognitive dysfunction, dizziness
- Nervous system disorders
- Arthritis and arthritic symptoms
- Heart palpitations
What if I find a tick?
If you find a tick on you, remove it as soon as possible as the tick must be attached to your body for at least 24 hours to pass on the bacteria.
- Use tweezers
- Grasp the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly until the tick is removed. Do not twist or rotate the tick. Do not use a match, lotion or anything else on the tick.
- Place the tick in an empty pill vial or zip-lock bag with a moistened paper towel
- Wash the bite site with soap and water
- See your family doctor to have the tick tested for Lyme disease
Removing ticks right away can help prevent disease. If you develop a rash or fever after removing a tick, see your doctor.
Ottawa Public Health, National Institute of Health, Public Health Agency of Canada