Lyme Disease: A Master of Disguise
July 25, 2018 at 12:00 AM
by Jill Zdan
green plant during daytime

Lyme Disease is a condition that is often misdiagnosed.  Most people know that it is caused by a tick bite transmitting the bacteria Borrelia burgdoferi to a human.  Recent research has suggested that Borrelia burgdoferi might also be transmitted through mosquito bites and sexual intercourse with an infected partner.   The sooner you treat the infection, the better chance you have for it not to develop into a chronic problem.  Without prompt treatment,  it is possible that the infection will invade multiple tissues in the body.  Untreated Lyme Disease can cause damage to your  joints, heart, nervous system and more.

Many People do NOT Develop the Typical Rash!
Please do not rely on the Bull’s Eye rash (Erythema migrans) to determine whether you have Lyme Disease!   30% of people infected with Lyme Disease will NOT develop the characteristic circular rash.  To complicate things further, many people never even know that they have been bit by a tick.  When Dr. Z lived in Virginia years ago, both her husband and her neighbor contracted Lyme Disease.  Neither one of them had the Bull’s Eye rash and neither could remember being bit by a tick!

Why Lyme Disease is Often Misdiagnosed:

Lyme Disease is often last on a doctor’s list of diagnoses, since they want to exclude more common diagnoses first.  Lyme disease distracts the immune system’s attention, allowing other opportunistic viral or bacterial infections to develop.  It is common for someone to develop Bell’s Palsy (facial paralysis), pneumonia or the flu, because their body is busy trying to fight the Lyme infection.  This is another reason why Lyme’s Disease is often misdiagnosed as more common conditions.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Joint pain
  • Tendon pain
  • Bull’s eye rash
  • Neck Stiffness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Chills/Fever
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Arthritis (this is a long-term complication)
  • Tingling/numbness in arms and/or legs
  • Muscle weakness
  • Memory/Cognitive Impairment
  • Anxiety or Depression (when this has never happened before in the person’s lifetime)

If This Sounds like You, Please get Tested:
While Arizona is not a state with high rates of tick bites, it is possible for people to receive a tick bite while on vacation, or perhaps before they moved here. So please get tested if you suspect that you have been bitten by a tick, and especially if you are regularly experiencing these symptoms.  Our clinic provides one of the most accurate tests to identify the presence of a Lyme infection.  Please feel free to call us if you have any questions.