What is Lyme disease?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

What is Lyme disease? What are the most common symptoms?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Lyme disease is actually a bacterial disease that is caused by a tick bite. The bacteria live inside the tick, and when they bite you, you become infected too. Symptoms of lyme disease initially include a circular rash around the tick bite. This is a strange rash- it will look like a "bulls-eye", and disappear in a couple of days. Then, other symptoms will gradually appear, including fatigue, fever, and muscle pain. If detected early, the disease can be treated with antibiotics. However, since the symptoms can be mild and mimic a viral illness, many times it goes untreated. Symptoms of more long-term disease are arthritis, neurological symptoms, and fatigue, and at this stage the disease is more difficult to treat.

The best advice I can give is to try and prevent this disease by carefully looking for ticks after you have been outside. Wear long sleeves and long pants when outside. If you do get a tick bite, be sure to look out for the bulls-eye rash, as that is a hallmark early symptom of the disease.

Of note, there are fabulous websites available for more information regarding lyme disease, including the lyme disease foundation.