Stages of Lyme Disease - Global Lyme Alliance Stages of Lyme Disease - Global Lyme Alliance

Stages of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease occurs in three stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. However the stages can overlap and not all patients go through all three. A bulls-eye rash is usually considered one of the first signs of infection, but many people develop a different kind of rash or none at all. In most cases, Lyme symptoms can start with a flu-like illness. If untreated, the symptoms can continue to worsen and turn into a long-lived debilitating illness.

bullseye rashStage 1: Early Localized Disease

Symptoms with early localized (or acute) Lyme disease may begin hours, a few days or even weeks after a tick bite. At this point, the infection has not yet spread throughout the body. Lyme is the easiest to cure at this stage. Symptoms may include:

  • skin rash, which may or may not look like a bull’s eye
  • flu-like illness, including chills and fever
  • fatigue
  • headache and stiff neck
  • muscle soreness and joint pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • sore throat

Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme

Early disseminated Lyme may occur several weeks or months after the tick bite. Bacteria are beginning to spread throughout the body. In addition to flu-like symptoms, this stage is often characterized by increase in symptoms such as:

  • chills
  • fever
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • pain, weakness or numbness in the arms, legs
  • vision changes
  • heart problems, such as palpitations, chest pain
  • rash may appear on body
  • facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy)

Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease

If Lyme disease isn’t promptly or effectively treated in the first two stages, late disseminated (post-treatment, chronic, or neurological) Lyme occurs weeks, months or even years after the tick bite. The Lyme bacteria have spread throughout the body and many patients develop chronic arthritis as well as an increase in neurological and cardiac symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • arthritis in joints or near the point of infection
  • severe headaches or migraines
  • vertigo, dizziness
  • migrating pains that come and go in joints/tendons
  • stiff, aching neck
  • sleep disturbances, insomnia
  • disturbances in heart rhythm
  • mental fogginess, concentration issues
  • numbness in the arms, legs, hands or feet
  • problems following conversations and processing information
  • severe fatigue

Learn more

Lyme Disease Symptoms  
Lyme Symptom Tracker App
About Lyme Disease Testing
Find a Doctor
All About Ticks
How to Prevent Lyme Disease

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Disclaimer: The above material is provided for information purposes only. The material (a) is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor (b) does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history. Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. makes no warranties of any kind regarding this Website, including as to the accuracy, completeness, currency or reliability of any information contained herein, and all such warranties are expressly disclaimed.

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