If you’ve ever seen a tick — especially if you’ve seen one feed on a dog or a human — then you know what gross, creepy little creatures they are. Unfortunately, they also transmit some potentially serious illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tick-borne Lyme disease is passed to humans via bites by infected ticks, and the result can be a range of sometimes mystifying symptoms that may last for years. But surprisingly, we can get bitten by a tick and not even know it, and if we live in areas prone to tick infestations, we owe it to ourselves to be extra mindful to avoid tick bites. If we do end up on the receiving end of a tick bite, there are some subtle signs of Lyme disease to watch out for.
The CDC reports that untreated Lyme disease can cause slew of health problems over time. If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick, you should definitely see your doctor, stat. And if you can, bring the critter with you when you make your appointment, so that your provider can have the tick tested for Lyme infection. Healthline notes that the symptoms of Lyme disease mimic those of other illnesses, so sometimes it’s difficult to diagnose. Lyme awareness is key to prevention — here are some signs of Lyme disease you should know.
Healthline reports that Lyme-carrying ticks leave a distinctive red bull’s-eye shaped rash, which can show up anywhere on your body that’s been exposed to tick bites. The bull’s eye rash leaves the skin flat — not raised — and it appears in up to 80 percent of people when first infected with Lyme. And weirdly, it usually doesn’t itch. The rash disappears after a while, but if left untreated, the infection continues to spread inside the body. However, some people who are infected with Lyme Disease may have a non-bull’s-eye-shaped rash, or no rash at all (or no visible rash). Tick-induced rashes can appear up to 30 days after a tick bite, Healthline further reports, and can also show up as red blotches, bumps, or blisters.
2. Flu-like Symptoms
According to the CDC, swollen lymph nodes, fevers, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches are common signs of early Lyme infection that can be easy to miss. You might think you’re fighting off a summer cold or flu, but if you’ve been potentially exposed to tick bites before the onset of your symptoms, it’s important to get checked out by a health care provider.
These days, it seems that the potential causes of fatigue are virtually endless. But, it’s important to note that fatigue is a major early sign of Lyme disease, and it can also linger on if Lyme is left untreated. According to the Mayo Clinic, severe fatigue is a less-common sign of Lyme disease, and it may not show up until several weeks after initial exposure to Lyme infection. Still, if you’ve got a bout of fatigue that you just can’t shake, it’s probably not a bad idea to check in with your doctor.
4. Major Headaches & A Stiff Neck
The CDC states that intense headaches coupled with a stiff neck are sometimes a sign of Lyme disease, and can appear anywhere from days to months after a bite by a Lyme-infected tick.