• Stage 1 Lyme Disease
This is also called early localized disease. The symptoms of Lyme infection start about one to two weeks after you are bitten by an infected tick. Among the first signs that you may notice is the bull’s-eye rash (erythema migrans), which is an indication that the bacteria are already multiplying in the bloodstream.
The bull’s-eye rash is an expanding red area that tends to clear up in the center, hence the name. It usually begins to appear between three to 30 days (average is approximately seven days).3
It typically doesn’t itch and isn’t painful, but may be warm to touch. It will usually subside after about four weeks. Although the rash is said to be characteristic of the disease, it only affects about 50 percent of infected individuals.
• Stage 2 Lyme Disease
Also known as early disseminated Lyme disease, this occurs a few weeks or even months after you become infected. During this period, the bacteria are starting to spread to the other parts of the body.
It is characterized by flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat, fatigue, vision changes and muscle aches.4
In this stage of infection, you will have a general feeling of not being well. A rash may also appear in other parts of the body. There is a possibility that you will experience neurological signs like tingling, numbness and Bell’s palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one/both sides of the face) as well.5,6
In early disseminated Lyme disease, complications like cardiac conduction disturbances and meningitis may occur. Keep in mind that there is a possibility that the symptoms of stage 1 and 2 Lyme disease will overlap.
• Stage 3 Lyme Disease
This stage, also called late disseminated Lyme disease, usually occurs when the infection is not appropriately treated in the first and second stages. During this stage of the disease, you are likely to experience severe headaches, heart rhythm disturbances, arthritis of one or more major joints, brain disorders, mental fogginess and numbness in the extremities.
There are also rare symptoms that may occur several weeks after your infection, like heart problems, liver inflammation, severe fatigue and eye inflammation.7
Remember that the symptoms may come and go, even without treatment. Just because there are no symptoms doesn’t mean that the disease is gone. If Lyme is not appropriately treated, it can spread to the other parts of your body, and will eventually lead to severe health issues like nervous system problems.8