There are over 150 symptoms of Lyme disease. While I have tried my best to include as many as possible, this is not a complete list. For your convenience I have created a printable checklist of Lyme disease symptoms and Co-infections. I thought it would be a good idea to put them all together in order to see what symptoms overlap with co-infections. This will make it easier to take your list of symptoms with you to your doctor and help with diagnosis of all possible illnesses. I also created a medical information document and Medical History Chart to take to your doctor.
It is important to recognize that Lyme disease is known as the new “Great Imitator.” It mimics several diseases and syndromes making diagnosis even more difficult. Please be aware that a syndrome is a collection of symptoms, not necessarily a disease in itself. Many of today’s modern “diseases” are actually syndromes due to the fact that there is no known cause or cure. Many of these syndromes are often caused by Lyme disease, and if treated with standard treatments, particularly immunosuppressants, can further the infection causing severe disability or death. I included a partial list of these on the Checklist.
I feel it is important to mention the other side of the spectrum here. While it is important to consider Lyme infection as a possibility, it is also important to consider all possibilities. Lyme disease symptoms are so broad and so many, that people who have dealt with Lyme disease in their life in some form tend to think everything is Lyme disease. I was guilty of this myself, at first, and figured it was better to be safe than sorry. Anytime I heard someone speaking of a combination of symptoms, I immediately asked them if they had been tested for Lyme disease. The truth is there are many underlying problems that can occur with similar symptoms, including genetic mutations. Proper diagnosis is essential.
In my opinion, this is a lot of the reason there is so much controversy regarding this disease right now. Some Lyme doctors think if you have the symptoms, you definitely have Lyme disease and that long-term antibiotics is the only way, and with that comes many more problems that often go unrecognized. On the other side of the controversy, doctors believe that without a rash or tick, it cannot be Lyme disease and there is malpractice in treating with long-term antibiotics unnecessarily.
I tend to sit somewhere in the middle on this and I do believe that those who have Lyme disease most often do require antibiotics for extended periods of time. However, I also believe that there are many people out there being treated for Lyme disease that may not have it.
Part of this is due to the availability of information on the internet, and people self-diagnosing themselves with Lyme. Then they go on a hunt to find a doctor that is willing to treat them, and say all the right things to convince the doctor that they do have it, especially if their tests come back negative. Or worse, they decide to self-treat without an actual diagnosis.
All doctors, on both sides of this controversy need to realize how important it is to do a detailed clinical diagnosis based on symptoms and history, customize the treatment to the patient, monitor the patient’s progress closely, and change the treatment when necessary. First and foremost, does it make sense? Is it possible that it is Lyme? And if antibiotic treatment is started, is there a Herxheimer reaction? If so, then the antibiotics are working on some type of infection. If not, perhaps it isn’t Lyme after all or the wrong antibiotics are being administered.
It is always possible to have multiple infections and diseases present at the same time. Symptoms can be caused by these diseases or infections, associated with them, part of what causes them, and/or a result of the Herxheimer reaction due to die-off. There is often a combination of these factors present.
Keep in mind that the presence of the symptom may be indicative of the presence of the infection, but the causes and associations can be complex. Symptoms are not always caused by disease, but can also be the result of healing, the body’s natural mechanism of restoring balance. This is why it is crucial to work closely with your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Self-diagnosis and treatment without the oversight of a licensed physician can be dangerous.
There is no one answer in this. It is important that doctors and insurance companies recognize that there are people that are very ill from Lyme disease and need treatment. There are also some people that may have something else, or a combination of things. Usually when the pendulum swings to both extremes, the answer lies somewhere in between, at a place of balance and common sense.
The answer is never “There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s all in your head.” If a patient has these symptoms, regardless of whether it is Lyme or something different, there IS something wrong. This disease is real and devastating. We desperately need a better understanding of it and accurate testing in order to properly diagnose and treat it, not a fight to be right.
For more on Pets & Lyme disease, please see the Pets page.
Special thanks to Robin Kelly for her contribution to the Medical History Chart.
The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.