If you happen to encounter the wrong tick, a walk in the woods can turn into a lingering battle with Lyme disease. Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, the result of a tick bite, include a bull’s-eye shaped rash and flu-like symptoms that can be very mild and may even go unnoticed. And in at least a quarter of Lyme disease patients, the telltale rash does not develop, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics, but if Lyme disease is not detected early, it can cause serious and debilitating symptoms such as nerve pain, severe headaches, arthritis, and cognitive problems. As the NIAID notes, fatigue, pain, and aching joints and muscles can persist in some patients even after treatment, which is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. The symptoms and complications of Lyme disease — especially when it comes to what has been called “chronic Lyme,” though experts are wary of that term — are complex and not well-defined. But of course people should seek a medical evaluation if they are feeling unwell, and Lyme disease should be investigated if there has been a history of a tick bite.