3. Achy, stiff, or swollen joints
Joint pain and stiffness, often intermittent, are early Lyme symptoms. Your joints may be inflamed, warm to the touch, painful, and swollen. You may have stiffness and limited range of motion in some joints (1).
Pain may move around. Sometimes your knees may hurt, whereas other times it’s your neck or your heels. You may also have bursitis (16). Bursae are the thin cushions between bone and surrounding tissue.
The pain may be severe, and it may be transitory. More than one joint may be affected. Most often the large joints are involved (12).
People often attribute joint problems to age, genetics, or sports. Lyme should be added to that list, as these statistics indicate:
- One study estimates that 80 percent of people with untreated Lyme have muscle and joint symptoms .
- Fifty percent of people with untreated Lyme have intermittent episodes of arthritis (17).
- Two-thirds of people have their first episode of joint pain within six months of the infection .
- Use of anti-inflammatory drugs may mask the actual number of people with joint swelling .
4. Headaches, dizziness, fever
Other common flu-like symptoms are headaches, dizziness, fever, muscle pain, and malaise.
About 50 percent of people with Lyme disease have flu-like symptoms within a week of their infection (18).
Your symptoms may be low-level, and you may not think of Lyme as a cause. For example, when fever occurs, it’s usually low-grade (18).
In fact, it can be difficult to distinguish Lyme flu symptoms from a common flu or viral infection. But, unlike a viral flu, for some people the Lyme flu-like symptoms come and go.
Here are a few statistics from different studies of Lyme patients:
- Seventy-eight percent of children in one study reported headaches (8).
- Forty-eight percent of adults with Lyme in one study reported headaches (20).
- Fifty-one percent of children with Lyme reported dizziness (8).
- In a 2013 study of adults with Lyme, 30 percent experienced dizziness (15).
- Thirty-nine percent of children with Lyme reported fevers or sweats (8).
- Among adults with Lyme, 60 percent reported fever in a 2013 study (15).
- Forty-three percent of children with Lyme reported neck pain (8).
- A smaller number of children with Lyme reported sore throats (8).
5. Night sweats and sleep disturbances
Sleep disturbances in Lyme are common.
Joint pain may wake you up at night. Your body temperature may fluctuate, and night sweats or chills can wake you.
Your face and head may feel flushed.
Here are some of the statistics from studies:
- In a 2013 study, 60 percent of adults with early Lyme reported sweats and chills (15).
- The same study reported that 41 percent experienced sleep disturbances (15).
- Twenty-five percent of children with Lyme reported disturbed sleep (8).
6. Cognitive decline
There are many kinds and degrees of cognitive disturbances, and they can be scary.
You may notice that you have difficulty concentrating in school or at work.
Your memory may have lapses that weren’t there before. You may have to reach to remember a familiar name.
You may feel as though you’re processing information more slowly.
Sometimes when driving or taking public transportation to a familiar place, you may forget how to get there. Or you may be confused about where you are or why you’re there.
You might get to a store to shop, but entirely forget what it was that you were supposed to look for.
You might at first attribute this to stress or age, but the decline in capabilities may worry you.
Here are some statistics:
- Seventy-four percent of children with untreated Lyme reported cognitive problems (8).
- Twenty-four percent of adults with early Lyme reported difficulty concentrating (15).
- In later Lyme, 81 percent of adults reported memory loss (21).