The signs and symptoms of Lyme Borreliosis Complex can vary from case to case, because of the complicated nature of the disease, and the fact that there are often multiple co-infections present, as well.
Additionally, a patient’s genetics and the condition of his or her immune system also tend to influence how susceptible that person will be to infection and what symptoms he or she will exhibit.
When all of the above factors are combined, they create a disease picture that will be different for nearly every patient – both in which symptoms they present and how those symptoms progress over time.
Nevertheless, there are a few symptoms in both early and chronic stages of Lyme disease that could be indicators of an infection.
Early Lyme Symptoms
At its earliest stage, Lyme disease is hard to detect. If the immune system has not created enough antibodies, then the standard Western Blot and ELISA blood tests will not pick up the presence of the infection.
And, the only truly unique Lyme disease symptom, at this stage, is a bull’s eye rash or erythema migrans rash – which does not occur in every case. The rest of the symptoms that have been found in the earliest recognized cases of Lyme are “non-specific”, meaning that they could be caused by a number of different diseases.
These symptoms include (but are not limited to):
- Arthralgia (i.e. joint pain, redness, stiffness, and reduced mobility)
- Bull’s eye or erythema migrans rash
If these symptoms persist and/or remain untreated, they can lead to chronic, relapsing or otherwise unexplained symptoms.
Chronic or Persistent Lyme Symptoms
In cases of chronic or persistent Lyme disease, a person may experience a vast array of symptoms, depending on a number of factors, including:
- The individual’s susceptibility (e.g. genetic factors, immune system condition)
- The duration of the person’s illness
- The co-infections working together in the individual’s system
In animal tests, a chronic infection with Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) has been shown to suppress the immune system, and is intensified when other tick-borne co-infections are added.
Chronic or persistent Lyme Borreliosis Complex can lead to severely debilitating conditions that will diminish a person’s quality of life – physically, mentally, and socially.
However, practitioners who are inexperienced with Lyme often label these chronic conditions as “idiopathic” – meaning that the symptoms are of an unknown cause – and then treat the symptoms without acknowledging or suspecting that a bacterial infection could be the root cause.
The symptoms that people with chronic or persistent Lyme Borreliosis Complex exhibit include (but are not limited to):
- Any of the above early-stage symptoms on a chronic basis
- Cognitive or physical brain issues
- Acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (ACA) (a progressive skin condition that causes irritation and swelling)
- Meningoradiculitis (inflammation of the nerves in the brain, head, and spinal cord)
For a referenced paper on the basics of Lyme disease and its associated coinfections, visit our Lyme Basics For Professionals page.