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Why is Lyme Disease Easy to Misdiagnose?


Lyme disease is a common illness transmitted by a tick carrying a certain type of bacterium (spirochete) known as Borrelia burgdorferi. The common symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, headaches, stiff neck, fever, sore muscles and joints, and a red rash that can resemble a bull’s-eye. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics quite easily in the early stages of infection, but it often goes undiagnosed. If left untreated, this disease can cause lasting problems for the patient’s heart, joints, and nervous system. Learn more about how Lyme disease escapes detection.

  • Current lab tests do not always detect the Lyme disease spirochete. It can test negative, even when the spirochete is present. Patients may also test positive for Lyme disease when they have some of the other tick-borne infections, since these may also show positive bands on the conventional Western blot testing.
  • Patients may test positive for Lyme disease because they have been infected earlier in their lives, but the infection may not be active or cause illness.
  • Chronic Lyme disease can closely resemble other illnesses, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and chronic fatigue symptom. If the patient is unaware that they had been bitten by a tick, their doctor may not test for Lyme disease.
  • Doctors may not be aware of the symptoms of tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, and can fail to eliminate these illnesses before exploring other diagnoses.

The Symptoms of Lyme Disease

As a patient, you can provide crucial information to your doctor to help them find the correct cause of your illness. If you have been in a wooded or brushy area with standing water, you may have been exposed to ticks. Relay this information to your doctor if you suspect that your illness is tick-borne. Often, bites can happen in hard to see places, so you may be unsure if you have been bitten or not.

The signs of early Lyme disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Neck stiffness or pain
  • Sleep issues
  • Brain fog
  • Short term memory loss
  • Mental confusion

If your treatment for early Lyme disease was not adequate or you were not treated, your illness may evolve into Chronic Lyme disease. This more serious version of the disease can have lasting effects on its victims.

Symptoms of Chronic Lyme disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Body aches
  • Sleep issues
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Brain fog
  • Short term memory loss
  • Mental confusion
  • Mood issues, such as depression
  • Neurological issues
  • Heart issues
  • Headaches

Lyme disease can be treated, but it is easiest to treat when caught early. After hiking, check yourself and your companions over carefully for ticks or bites. Don’t forget to check your animals, as they can bring ticks into your home easily. If you suspect you have been bitten by a tick, contact the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine. We are dedicated to reversing chronic illnesses, including Lyme disease. Our diverse, integrative treatment approach is unique to our Scottsdale Lyme disease treatment center.

Contact the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine today to learn more about your treatment options.