The Stages of Lyme Disease
- The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) believes Lyme disease has multiple stages. Early Lyme symptoms can include fever, chills, body aches, strong headache and stiff neck. It is unknown exactly how long this early stage lasts.
As the Lyme disease progresses, it begins to infect other bodily systems. According to the AAFP, in the later stages of the disease bacteria begin to painfully inflame the joints, a condition known as Lyme arthritis. Typically, Lyme arthritis affects only one of the large joints (knee, shoulder). Other symptoms of late-stage Lyme can include mood disorders, anxiety, severe headaches and, rarely, inflammation of the heart.
- According to hopkins-arthritis.org, "approximately 10 percent of untreated (Lyme) patients may develop chronic arthritis, defined as one year or more of continuous joint inflammation." Symptoms of chronic Lyme arthritis include episodes of swelling, redness and fluid buildup in one or more joints that last up to six months at a time.
- Lyme disease affects all ages, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms and understand contributing risk factors for contraction. Children are at increased risk because they play outside where ticks live. Parents should dress their children in long pants, tucked into socks, and long-sleeved shirts if they know their child will be playing in a wooded area.
Adults whose jobs are primarily outdoors, such as landscapers, are at an increased risk as well and should wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when appropriate as well as performing regular tick checks. Pet owners can also contract the disease from ticks carried by their pets. They should take measures such as Frontline and perform routine brushing to rid the pet of any ticks.
- A review on pubmed.com of treatment options for Lyme arthritis revealed that antibiotics, particularly intravenous ceftriaxone, were successful in relieving arthritic symptoms. The IV ceftriaxone had a response rate of 94 percent. The review also stated that antibiotic treatment is the preferred method for treating Lyme arthritis. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also given, such as ibuprofen. Taking ibuprofen will decrease swelling and also provide pain relief.
Unfortunately, some patients with chronic Lyme arthritis don't experience relief even after treatment. In those rare cases, it is believed the Lyme bacteria became resistant to antibiotics.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), from 1992-2004, 33 percent of the total cases of Lyme disease experienced Lyme arthritis as a symptom. The CDC also reports that Lyme disease is most common between the ages of 5 and 9 years old and in persons older than 30. It's important to note that these statistics are only indicative of those cases reported to the CDC. Many more go unreported.