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What Is Lyme Disease?

What is Lyme Disease was Written by Dr. Diane Mueller


This blog will cover the following topics:

  • The signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease
  • How Lyme Disease is diagnosed
  • The importance of getting a correct diagnosis for targeted and effective treatment


If you experience fatigue, headaches, or muscle and joint pain, or if you have Lyme Disease and want to know how to resolve it, this blog is for you. Read on for more information!

What is Lyme Disease?

What is Lyme Disease?


Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted by an infected black-legged tick. The disease was first identified in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut, and is far more common now than it was 30 years ago. In addition, the geographic area in North America for contracting Lyme has greatly increased as well.

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Lyme Disease is a complex disease with both acute and potentially chronic symptoms. It is an inflammatory disease that typically, but not always, starts with a rash, headache, fever, and chills, and can later develop into more serious symptoms such as possible arthritis, neurological or cardiac issues.

Short-term symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, which may also occur without a rash. Studies have shown that only 25% of individuals have the classic bullseye rash.


After a tick bite, additional symptoms may occur days or months later:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • More bull’s-eye rash on other parts of the body
  • Facial palsy, which is the loss of muscle tone or drooping on one or both sides of the face
  • There is a 60% chance of developing Lyme arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling, especially in the knees and other large joints.
  • Pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation in the brain and spinal cord
  • Nerve pain, shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Cognitive issues

If left untreated, the infecting pathogen can spread to various organs and tissues, severely affecting the nervous system, joints, heart, and skin. People may develop neurological symptoms and heart problems. The signs and symptoms of late-stage Lyme Disease may not be evident for weeks, months, or even years.

What is Lyme Disease and How is it Diagnosed?

Lyme Disease is diagnosed based on symptoms and physical signs, including the characteristic bull’s-eye rash, but not all patients develop this rash. Blood tests, specifically the Western blot test, are also used for diagnosis, and our clinic specializes in expertly analyzing this test to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Lyme Disease is often referred to as ‘The Great Imitator’ because it can mimic many other health conditions.


Chronic Lyme….

Chronic Lyme Disease, or CLD, refers to ongoing symptoms that occur due to a lengthy Borrelia infection, such as fatigue and chronic pain. Some people may not realize they have been bitten by a tick or may not develop a bull’s-eye rash, leading to a delayed diagnosis and the possibility of chronic Lyme. Even with treatment, some patients with long-standing Lyme Disease may experience persistent symptoms or even a worsening of symptoms. Additional or longer courses of antibiotics are not effective for these patients and may put them at risk of side effects. Instead, seeking treatment from Functional Medicine to identify underlying causes of symptoms and use a targeted approach may be more beneficial.

Co-infections of Lyme Disease are an important topic that can affect treatment outcomes, but are beyond the scope of this article. Misdiagnosed or untreated Lyme Disease can also lead to chronic inflammatory age-related degeneration, such as arthritis, dementia, or stroke. Some neurological diseases may even be partially caused by Lyme Disease. Early detection and seeking medical advice after exposure to ticks or developing a bull’s-eye rash are critical for successful treatment. While Lyme Disease is usually curable, catching it early is important for optimal outcomes.

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