If you’ve ever seen a tick — especially if you’ve seen one feed on a dog or a human — then you know what gross, creepy little creatures they are. Unfortunately, they also transmit some potentially serious illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tick-borne Lyme disease is passed to humans via bites by infected ticks, and the result can be a range of sometimes mystifying symptoms that may last for years. But surprisingly, we can get bitten by a tick and not even know it, and if we live in areas prone to tick infestations, we owe it to ourselves to be extra mindful to avoid tick bites. If we do end up on the receiving end of a tick bite, there are some subtle signs of Lyme disease to watch out for.
The CDC reports that untreated Lyme disease can cause slew of health problems over time. If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick, you should definitely see your doctor, stat. And if you can, bring the critter with you when you make your appointment, so that your provider can have the tick tested for Lyme infection. Healthline notes that the symptoms of Lyme disease mimic those of other illnesses, so sometimes it’s difficult to diagnose. Lyme awareness is key to prevention — here are some signs of Lyme disease you should know.
According to the CDC, swollen lymph nodes, fevers, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches are common signs of early Lyme infection that can be easy to miss. You might think you're fighting off a summer cold or flu, but if you've been potentially exposed to tick bites before the onset of your symptoms, it's important to get checked out by a health care provider.
These days, it seems that the potential causes of fatigue are virtually endless. But, it's important to note that fatigue is a major early sign of Lyme disease, and it can also linger on if Lyme is left untreated. According to the Mayo Clinic, severe fatigue is a less-common sign of Lyme disease, and it may not show up until several weeks after initial exposure to Lyme infection. Still, if you've got a bout of fatigue that you just can't shake, it's probably not a bad idea to check in with your doctor.
Major Headaches & A Stiff Neck
The CDC states that intense headaches coupled with a stiff neck are sometimes a sign of Lyme disease, and can appear anywhere from days to months after a bite by a Lyme-infected tick.
Night Sweats & Sleep Problems
Some folks infected with Lyme go on to develop neurological issues like numbness or weakness in the arms and legs, inflammation in the brain (meningitis), or paralysis in the face (Bell's palsy), according to the Mayo Clinic. The CDC also reports that signs of Lyme can include shooting pains or tingling in the arms or feet, and overall nerve pain.
Heart Palpitations Or Irregular Heartbeat
The CDC reports that when Lyme infection enters the tissues of the heart, it can cause cardiac symptoms called Lyme carditis. Basically, Lyme-causing bacteria start messing with the heart's electrical signals, and can lead to irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Healthline notes that folks with Lyme disease can often experience problems concentrating at school or work. With the later stages Lyme infection, up to 81 percent of folks have memory loss and impaired mental focus.
Since the symptoms of Lyme disease can so often look like other illnesses, it's important to be mindful of the risks — especially if you live in an area where ticks are common. Make sure to cover up as much as possible when in heavily wooded and grassy areas, and always do a full body check once you've come back inside — while making sure to scan your pup for ticks, too. If you do catch a tick on your body, remove it as quickly as possible with tweezers. Early Lyme infection can respond well to antibiotic treatments, according to the CDC, so, if you do end up with a bite or a suspected bite, check in with your doctor as soon as you can.
This article was originally published on