Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, which is caused by a type of spirochete and spread by a tick bite. Lyme disease symptoms are flu-like, including fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea and joint pain, but some patients have a rash or Bell’s palsy (facial drooping). Ticks can infect humans and animals with spirochetes. The ticks that spread the disease are very small and very often the bite can be left unnoticed by the person. Lyme disease belongs to transmissible diseases, the causes of which are transmitted by blood-sucking insects and ticks. Lyme disease is seasonal in nature – cases occur in the summer and autumn, which coincides with the period of tick activity.
Lyme disease occurs in several phases and can cause damage to the human skin, joints, heart and nervous system. The early phase always develops at the site of the bite from the wound and causes the formation of a characteristic, expanding red circle in the skin.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium that is a spirochete. This bacterium has a complex life cycle, part of it runs in the digestive system of certain ticks and in some mammals such as mice and reindeer.
Lyme disease symptoms
Lyme disease occurs in three stages. In each of these, the disease affects different parts and organs of the body to varying degrees, causing different complaints accordingly. Moving from one stage to another is usually consistent and smooth, but sometimes Lyme disease symptoms might characteristic of several stages at the same time.
First stage can go without any complaints or remain unnoticed by man. In most cases, however, after a few days to a month, a slight increase in the temperature, weakness, pain in the muscles and joints, headache, swelling of some lymph nodes. The most common Lyme disease symptoms at this stage is the skin rash. Instead of a bite of the tortoise, where the spirochete has entered the skin, a red blob is formed which grows in a circle with each passing day and brightens in the middle turns into an oval red ring that can reach a different size. This characteristic skin symptom of early Lyme disease is called “migrating erythema”. This ring is usually not sick and does not hurt. In some cases, some rings may be formed or red spots only, which are not due to a few tick bites. Without treatment, usually the red ring passes by itself for about 2-3 weeks, but it may reappear.
Second stage causative passes from the skin into the lymph nodes and from there into the blood. Through blood the spirochetes spread throughout the organs. The joints, the brain and the nervous system, the heart and the liver are most affected. Brain involvement occurs most often as inflammation of its envelopes (meningitis) with complaints of pain and stiffness in the neck, irritation from light and noise, severe headache and fever. Approximately half of the cases develop paralysis of the facial nerve with difficulty to a faint smile, hanging on the face on one side, difficulty speaking and etc. The spread of infection in the heart causes inflammation of the heart muscle, which is manifested by heart attacks, fainting, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness. The infection causes inflammation of the joints (arthritis), which usually occurs with swelling, pain and sometimes flushing usually on one joint (knee or wrist). Rather, complaints may jump from one joint to another. Usually, arthritis at this stage subsides on its own. Less frequent liver damage and inflammation of the eye may occur. Hepatic damage can occur as hepatitis with enzyme elevations, pain and weight in the right subcutaneous tissue, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, darkening of the urine and etc.
Third stage – this stage is observed in only 10% of people suffering from characteristic migrating erythema. The third stage occurs (without treatment) for about 3 months to several years after biting from the infected tick. The illness can also appear right at this stage, or the previous stages have gone unnoticed by the patients. In the third stage of Lyme disease there is mainly damage to the joints, the cerebrum and other parts of the central nervous system. At this stage, swelling, pain, and restricted movements most often in one or several joints become permanent (arthritis is chronic). Most commonly is affected knee and other large joints. Brain and peripheral nerve involvement is manifested by weakening of memory and concentration, dementia, tiredness, worsened coordination, weakening to loss of limb sensation, thirst and arms in the arms and legs, weakness in the muscles and etc.