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Lyme's disease is a potentially devastating disease that often manifests with a number of symptoms similar to ones identified in other illnesses. Lyme's disease progresses in three stages, and if left untreated, can lead to long-term, debilitating disability. Lyme's disease is easy to avoid and highly treatable. It is caused by infected ticks that remain on a human host for 36-48 hours. It is important to thoroughly check clothing, skin and hair after excursions in wooded areas.
- The first stage of Lyme's disease is fairly localized, and includes a variety of symptoms that can be found in other illnesses. Most common are chills, fever, fatigue, loss of energy and swollen lymph nodes; these are often confused with symptoms of influenza. A rash often occurs and is sometimes mistaken as an allergic reaction. The majority of these symptoms point to a number of viral infections that require medical treatment. Sometimes, infected individuals will experience none of these typical symptoms, but If you are experiencing a combination of any of them, make an appointment with your doctor.
- In the second stage, usually occurring one to four months after exposure to the Lyme pathogen, symptoms generally worsen and include general tiredness, joint pain, weakness and numbness in the extremities, headaches, conjunctivitis, heart palpitations and partial paralysis of facial muscles. These symptoms are often thought to be a result of infectious mononucleosis, a precursor to heart trouble or stroke. The partial facial paralysis can be symptomatic of stroke or Bell's palsy. In most cases, medical attention is needed urgently at this stage, before symptoms become permanent.
- The third stage is the most severe stage of Lyme's disease and can occur within weeks or months after the initial infection. At this point, almost 60 persons of persons infected suffer damage to the nerves or brain and experience severe pain and swelling in the larger joints. The knees are the most commonly afflicted joints. Severe fatigue is generally prevalent, in addition to short-term memory issues or other neurological problems. These symptoms can easily be mistaken for symptoms of illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, tumors and countless others. These symptoms are acute, and even if the other two stages yielded symptoms too mild to detect, it is virtually impossible not to experience serious problems in the third stage. You should go to the doctor immediately, because there is a good chance that some of these symptoms are permanent.