If you’ve been bitten, don’t panic. Save the tick if you can (read more about tick testing). And most importantly, watch for symptoms.
Lyme disease has three stages. While each stage and its symptoms usually progress into the next, the rate at which Lyme disease spreads varies significantly.
1. Early Localized Stage
Lyme symptoms usually appear days or weeks after infection. At this stage Lyme is the easiest to cure. Symptoms can include:
- Skin rash, commonly — but not always — a circular or bullseye rash around the bite area
- Headaches or stiff neck
- Flu-like ailments, including fever or chills
- Muscle and joint pain
- Profound fatigue or lack of energy
- A small bump or redness at tick bite
- Swollen lymph nodes
2. Early Disseminated Stage
If untreated, the Lyme infection can expand throughout the body causing a wider range of symptoms. These symptoms usually appear weeks or months after infection and can include:
- Expanding skin rash (more or larger rashes covering more parts of the body)
- Pain or numbness in arms and legs
- Extreme joint pain
- Profound fatigue
- Headaches and lack of energy
- Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis)
- Poor memory or inability to concentrate
- Heart palpitations
3. Late-Stage Lyme
Symptoms of late-stage Lyme can appear months or even years after infection. For some, these symptoms may be the first sign of Lyme disease, making it even more difficult to diagnose. Symptoms in this later stage of infection are more severe and include:
- Arthritis, particularly in the knee or near the point of infection
- Nervous system problems including numbness and tingling in hands, feet, or back
- Severe headaches or migraines
- Problems with memory, hearing, and vision
- Stiff neck due to swollen tissues
- Chronic fatigue
- Problems with mood or sleep
- Inflammation of the brain
- Inflammation of the heart
It is important to note that you could have some, and not all, of the symptoms at every stage. If you suspect you may have Lyme disease, talk to your doctor.
Download our Lyme Symptoms PDF in English and Spanish for your reference.
Download our pocket guide about Lyme disease to keep as a handy reference.