Lyme is a potentially chronic, debilitating condition with numerous symptoms in many body systems. Lyme disease can mimic a lot of different medical conditions.
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Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases like lupus and MS, or even anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric conditions. Below is an outline of how it is transmitted, the different forms of Lyme disease, and the different co-infections that are transmitted along with Lyme.
The bacteria that causes Lyme, Borrelia burgdorferi, is most commonly transmitted through the bite of a tick. But it can also be contracted from other insects or arachnids like biting flies, fleas, mites, gnats, mosquitos, and spiders. Some experts suspect that it may also be transmitted congenitally, from mother to baby, or through sexual contact.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease. You may, however, experience symptoms that are not on this list. As mentioned above, Lyme mimics many other conditions and the symptoms can vary. Each person’s experience with Lyme disease is different; almost no two cases are alike.
- Flu-like symptoms: fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, and nausea
- Neck pain, neck cracking, or stiff neck
- Bull’s-eye rash
- Bell’s palsy
- Brain fog or cognitive issues
- Sleep issues
- Swollen joints
- Neuropathy: tingling, numbness, pain, or weakness in hands and feet
- Heart issues
- Swollen glands
- Mood swings, irritability, and depression
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
- Digestive issues
- Night sweats
Forms of Lyme
Lyme Borrelia bacteria are able to morph into different shapes within the body as a survival technique. Here are the three forms the bacteria take:
- Spirochete – corkscrew-shaped bacteria
- L-form – cell wall deficient bacteria
- Cyst – round body form
• A collection of microbes that stick to each other and other surfaces, creating a sticky, slimy film to insulate and protect themselves
• Although technically not a different form of Lyme, creating biofilms is one of the primary strategies that Lyme uses to establish and maintain chronic infections that withstand the immune system and treatment.
Where is Lyme found?
Ticks that carry Lyme disease are found on every continent except Antarctica. In the United States, Lyme is found in virtually every state (all but Hawaii) with the highest incidences in the East Coast, the West Coast, and the Midwest. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but in areas with higher incidence, up to 70% of ticks carry Lyme.
Unfortunately, when we talk about Lyme disease, we are not just talking about one infection. Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacteria that causes Lyme disease; however, Borrelia is virtually never contracted alone. There are a number of additional infections, called co-infections, that are contracted along with Borrelia when a person is bitten by a tick. Visit our Bugs to Blame page for more information on Borrelia, bartonella, babesia, anaplasma, ehrlichia, rickettsia, mycoplasma, Chlamydia pneumonia, and Epstein-Barr virus.