Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well. Approximately 10% to 20% of patients treated for Lyme disease will have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches. In some cases, these can last for more than 6 months. Although often called “chronic Lyme disease,” this condition is known in mainstream medicine as “Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” (PTLDS).
What are the symptoms of Lyme?
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Bulls-eye rash (caution, large percentage do not have the rash)
Some late-stage disease symptoms:
- Stiff neck
- Joint inflammation
- Behavior and cognitive changes
- Bell’s palsy (numbness on one side of the face)
- Impaired muscle control
- If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
How is Lyme diagnosed?
Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. A bull’s-eye rash is a distinctive sign of Lyme disease. However, many who have the disease never saw a rash. The rash may occur long after the initial infection.
Any progress in ME/CFS research will help find answers about Lyme disease. Many people who are infected with Borrelia, the Lyme disease bacteria, develop ME/CFS symptoms. So whether it is chronic Lyme disease, a post-Lyme disease syndrome or Lyme disease developing into ME/CFS, understanding ME/CFS and its infectious triggers better will reveal more about the chronic condition many Lyme disease patients develop.