Many people associate Lyme disease with a classic bull’s-eye rash. Although this happens often, a person can also develop less common symptoms associated with the condition. Lyme disease is a disease transmitted by ticks. In many cases, it leads to the appearance of a rash, which is a classic sign of infection. More rarely, a person may develop additional symptoms and complications that can be serious or even fatal. This article reviews Lyme disease, its common and unusual symptoms, complications, and more.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is spread by tick bites. It is vector-borne disease. A vector-borne disease is spread through blood-feeding insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks. Most cases of Lyme disease result from a person having contracted the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. However, in rare cases it can be the result of Borrelia mayonii. A doctor can diagnose Lyme disease based on common symptoms and confirm the diagnosis with lab tests.

After diagnosis, doctors usually treat the disease with antibiotics.

Steps can be taken to help prevent Lyme disease, including:

reduce tick habitats around dwellings
apply pesticides
use insect repellents
remove ticks before they attach to the skin
wear clothes that cover the whole body when walking in the forest

Common symptoms

Lyme disease can produce different symptoms and signs in its early stages.

The most common early signs of Lyme disease are:

swollen lymph nodes
joint and muscle pain

Many people associate Lyme disease with an erythematous rash, which looks like a target. However, a rash may not occur in 20-30% of Lyme disease cases. It also may not take the classic form of a target that people often expect.

Rare symptoms

Here are some less common symptoms that a person with Lyme disease may experience.


In its early stages, Lyme disease can cause arthritis-like joint pain. The difference between Lyme disease and arthritis is that Lyme disease affects one joint for a short time and then moves to another joint. In a more advanced, untreated stage of Lyme disease, joint pain can develop into intermittent arthritis. In rare cases, a person can develop severe chronic arthritis related to the immune system’s response to infection. Without prompt treatment, arthritis can cause permanent joint damage.

Visual, auditory and sensory symptoms

If the bacteria that causes Lyme disease enters the central nervous system, it can cause sensory disturbances. This can include sensitivity to light as well as other visual disturbances.
In some cases, Lyme disease can cause hearing (hearing) problems. According to a 2021 study, Lyme disease may contribute to the development of lesions that can cause sudden sensorineural hearing loss. The researchers noted that people with long-lasting infections were more likely to experience permanent and irreversible changes in the cochlea or auditory nerve.

Cognitive, neurological and psychological symptoms

Lyme disease can cause cognitive, neurological and, in some cases, psychological symptoms. It can affect the central, cranial and peripheral nervous systems. When the bacteria affects the nervous system, it can cause neurological symptoms. These may include:

The central nervous system: This can lead to sensitivity to light, vision problems, stiff neck, fever or headache.
Cranial Nervous System: It can lead to facial paralysis, i.e. sagging of the features on one or both sides of the face.
Peripheral nervous system: It can cause tingling or numbness, sharp shooting pain, and weakness in the arms or legs.
Symptoms can often resemble those of other disorders, which can lead to misdiagnosis.


If left untreated, Lyme disease can affect many parts of the body, including the central nervous system and the heart.

Lyme cardiitis occurs when bacteria enter heart tissue. This causes disruptions in the way electrical signals move through the heart, which can lead to several symptoms, including

heart palpitations
shortness of breath
chest pain
The bacteria enters the heart in about 1 in 100 cases of Lyme disease. This complication can be life-threatening, with 11 deaths reported between 1985 and 2019 worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to questions about Lyme disease.

What are the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease?

Chronic Lyme disease is not a recognized condition. However, some symptoms may persist after treatment. This led doctors to describe this phenomenon as Lyme disease syndrome after treatment. SDLTP occurs in about 5 to 20 percent of people who receive treatment for Lyme disease. It can lead to symptoms such as:

mental fog
pain in muscles or joints
The exact cause is unknown. However, it can be due to persistent infection, activation of the immune system, damage from Lyme infection, or brain changes from Lyme disease.


In most cases, a doctor can treat Lyme disease with a series of antibiotics. Early treatment is important because it can help prevent the onset of late Lyme disease, which can lead to complications. Treatments can vary for different types of Lyme disease. They usually involve the use of antibiotics to cure the infection.


Lyme disease can cause a whole host of symptoms. A person can reduce their risk of contracting Lyme disease by taking steps such as using insect repellent or pesticides around their home. If a person suspects Lyme disease is the cause of their symptoms or has found a tick attached to their skin, they should contact their doctor for testing. Early treatment for Lyme disease can help prevent more serious, less common symptoms and complications associated with the infection.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.