You need to know the facts about Lyme disease symptoms and treatment. You may think you already know about Lyme disease symptoms. I thought I did too.
Two weeks ago my 5-year-old son got diagnosed with Lyme Disease. It sent me over the edge. I went on a Lyme Disease information binge.
We live in Pennsylvania. Pretty much the hub of Lyme disease. Both my parents and my sister have Lyme disease.
When your child gets sick, it’s different. I’m sure you can relate.The poor guy was in terrible shape for a few weeks. His symptoms were very characteristic of early onset Lyme Disease.
My Son’s Lyme Disease Story
It all started with a fever that lasted for 5 days. Mysteriously none of my other kids got. Hmmm…. made me think a little but not enough to get concerned.
Then a week after the fever resolved he developed a rash. It was oval shaped and looked like ring worm. So I started to treat it topically.
The next day he started to complain of a headache. At first, I suspected dehydration from too much fun in the hot summer sun. With lots of fluids, it didn’t improve.
The pain from his headache was terrible. The pain was all in his forehead. He would only lay on the couch and hold his head. He was tearful, crying, and moaning all day.
Falling asleep during the day for long periods of time. He only takes naps if he is sick.
And he was barely eating.
He threw up twice.
I gave him Tylenol and Motrin. Nothing seemed to help.
He didn’t want to play, or even watch TV. He only wanted to lay on the couch. And would nap through all the noise of the other kids.
Even touching him was too much. He did want me to sit with him for comfort.
Something was wrong.
Here he is holding his head. You could see the pain on his face. I’d never seen him so sick.
I suspected Lyme Disease and a trip to the doctor confirmed it. After a few days on antibiotics, his symptoms started to gradually improve.
Through this challenging time, I discovered some surprising things about Lyme Disease symptoms (the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria) and treatment.
Pay attention so you can protect yourself and your family. Awareness about Lyme disease is so important.
#1 – Lyme Disease Symptoms Go Undetected
Lyme Disease is often referred to as the Great Imitator. It mimics many other diseases and does it well. Often Lyme Disease is not diagnosed until it is chronic. Lyme disease hides from your immune system and antibiotics. The Lyme Disease bacteria are spiral shaped bacteria. They burrow into your muscles and tissue to hide.
Lyme Disease symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease. Often Lyme Disease has progressed and caused damage to the body by that time.
If you have mysterious symptoms, I encourage you to request a Lyme Disease test.
My doctor discouraged testing for the rest of my children tested for Lyme Disease. Unless they had lyme disease symptoms, she was not keen on testing them.
All my children play out in my yard together. I’m sure your kids do too. If one of my kids contracted Lyme Disease, it’s very likely that another child could contract it. Waiting until the Lyme Disease symptoms become chronic is not an option.
#2 – False Negatives Lyme Disease Tests are common
Lyme Disease does such a good job hiding in our body. Because of this, it also does a fantastic job hiding from a Lyme Disease blood test.
There are a ton of statistics about false negatives. Statistics show about a 50% false negative. Grossly inaccurate! Might as well flip a coin!!!
If you have chronic lyme disease, it’s even more common to get a false negative. And testing in the first 4-6 weeks after infection can also be unreliable.
The Western Blot test is positive by the CDC if 5 of the 10 antibodies to lyme bacteria come back positive.
That means you could have two strands of antibodies from Lyme but be negative for Lyme disease.
Find a good doctor well educated about Lyme disease.
Here is my son’s Western Blot Lye Disease Test Results.
Other tests can be done but are often inaccurate. Read more about it here.
#3 – Some People Get NO Bullseye rash
I was thankful my son got the bullseye rash, made it easier to get prompt treatment and a diagnosis. But it’s not as common as you may think, or your doctor may lead you to believe.
You don’t need a bullseye rash to develop lyme disease. Only 40 – 80% of those with Lyme disease actually develop the rash.
One doctor told me that without a bullseye rash, Lyme Disease was highly unlikely. That is just not true.
#4 – Bullseye Rash Has Many Variations
The bullseye rash will not always look the same.
At first, I thought my son’s rash was ring worm. They were an oval shaped ring with flesh colored skin inside. The first doctor we saw at urgent care agreed, it looked like ring worm. Especially since he had multiple rashes.
A follow up to our pediatrician and she did not hesitate. She said it was a classic bullseye rash. Funny how we got a slightly different story from EVERY doctor we saw.
Here is a picture of his rash after antibiotics started. It got red all over instead of flesh colored in the center.
Let’s Clear Up some bullseye rash misconceptions:
- The rash can look quite different in different people. Some have a red dot in the middle, some are flesh colored in the center, while others have several rings.
- A bullseye rash can go undetected in a place like your scalp
- The bullseye rash can appear anywhere on the body, not just where you were bitten
- You can have many bullseye rashes. My son had 5 bullseye rashes on his body.
While the bullseye rash is the tell tale sign of Lyme Disease, don’t count on it looking exactly like one picture. The bullseye rash is the gold seal for a proper Lyme Disease diagnosis. Often more reliable than testing, that is if you get one.
#5 – Ticks Can Be Found Anywhere
I bet you hear that ticks like to hide in tall grass and wooded areas. That is true, but ticks also hang out in residential yards. Mice, rabbits and other small animals carry them around.
I suspect my son got Lyme Disease just playing in our yard. We had not been in the woods or tall grassy areas recently. When we go outside, it’s in our yard or a playground.
We only have a few trees in our yard, but it’s enough shade for them to hang out. If you live in a residential neighborhood, don’t be fooled. TIcks are likely hiding in your yard too.
It’s important to apply a tick repellant spray every time you go outside. That may sound like overkill, but I strongly recommend it.
After 15 minutes of playtime in the yard with my kids this summer, we had tick contact. I found a deer tick crawling on my one-year-olds cheek. No kidding people! Thankfully unattached and easily flushable!
Ticks are everywhere! Even your residential backyard.
Here’s proof, Lyme Disease cases have nearly tripled in the past 20 years.
#6 – Is Lyme Disease Spread by other insects?
We never found a tick on my son. A few weeks prior to his Lyme Disease symptoms he did get a bunch of mosquito bites. Unfortunately, I’ll never know when or how he contracted Lyme Disease. While I still suspect it was an unrecognized tick bite, I have begun to question if any other insect could transmit Lyme Disease.
Ticks are most commonly associated with Lyme Disease. Deer ticks are the ones you have to look out for. They are the Lyme disease carriers. They are really small. Like a freckle small. The kicker is their babies are even smaller – the head of a pin small. See how they could be so easily missed! Even worse, they like to hide in out of sight places like your scalp.
Most people infected with Lyme Disease are bitten by a nymph tick. See how small it is!?!?
Interesting Fact: Ticks are not insects, they are actually an arachnid. In the same family as spiders. Makes your skin crawl doesn’t it?
#7 – Other Dangerous Bacteria
Tick bites harbor the risk of Lyme Disease and other bacterial infections. A Co-Infection is someone contracts Lyme Disease and another dangerous bacteria at the same time.
Co-infections are common yet rarely discussed. My pediatrician dismissed my concerns immediately when I brought up testing for co-infections.
I pressed on. And made an appointment with an infectious disease specialist.
The infectious disease specialist failed to bring up co-infections during our visit. At the end, I brought co-infections up. He listened to my concerns. The infectious disease specialist was open to analyzing his western blot test to see if there were indications of a co-infection.
The doctor re-assured me that typically no co-infections turn up. He stated co-infections are typically found when Lyme Disease symptoms persist after treatment.
I probed further. Antibiotics must automatically take care of those co-infections then. Right? The infectious disease specialist said maybe. Some bacterial co-infections need a heavier dose of antibiotics to eliminate them.
This left me puzzled. If simple steps to determine if co-infections exist – WHY AREN’T THEY USING THEM PREVENTATIVELY? If I was uneducated, I fear no steps would have been taken. and co-infections would not have even been discussed or looked at.
It turns out co-infections are most common with chronic lyme disease.
Coinfections may be common – at least among those with chronic Lyme disease. A recently published LDo survey over 3,000 patients with chronic Lyme disease found that over 50% had coinfections, with 30% reporting two or more coinfections. Source: LymeDisease.org
Share the Knowledge
If you suspect a problem with Lyme Disease, ask to be tested. Be assertive. If your request is denied, see another doctor until they will test you.
It is your health – no one will advocate for your health the way you will.
Doctors are people too, they get busy. They have good and bad days. EVERY doctor you see will have a slightly different opinion.
The doctor refused to test my mother for Lyme Disease. Even when she reported having a classic bullseye rash. She should have taken a picture of it before it faded for her Dr’s visit. She should not have taken no for an answer. PLEASE TAKE A PICTURE OF ANY RASH!
Years later, she’s suffering from long term consequences from chronic Lyme Disease symptoms.
Prevent long term consequences from Lyme Disease in yourself and those you love.
Share this article to educate others and help preserve their health!