What Is Lyme Disease? Here Are The Signs & Symptoms To Watch Out For

Know what to do when you've been infected.

How Do You Get Lyme Disease? Symptoms & Treatments getty

What Is Lyme disease, what are the symptoms to watch out for, and how do you treat it?

Lyme disease is a serious, potentially life-changing infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi when transmitted from the bite of an infected tick.

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Across large swaths of the United States, including the Midwest, Northeast, and mid-Atlantic regions, as well as southeastern Canada, Lyme disease is primarily spread via the deer tick — also known as the black-legged tick or bear tick, Ixodes scapularis.

Along the Pacific Coast, Lyme disease is primarily spread by the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus).

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cases of Lyme and other tickborne diseases have been steadily on the rise in recent years. Reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States have tripled since the late 1990s.

It is estimated that approximately 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the US, with these cases being most concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest.


New species of disease-carrying ticks are being found in an expanding geographic range, and new tickborne illnesses are being discovered (transmitted by other bacterial species such as Borrelia mayonii).

Thus it is becoming ever more important for everyone to know how to prevent tick bites, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and other infectious tickborne diseases such as babesiosis and ehrlichiosis, and how to treat these diseases.

How do you get Lyme disease and what are some Lyme disease treatment you need to know about, just in case?

This disease is spread through the bite of an infected tick. Your risk of contracting Lyme disease is higher if you live in or spend time in grassy and/or heavily wooded areas where deer tick or western black-legged tick populations may thrive.


Contrary to common belief, ticks can't fly or jump. Instead, they wait for a host, resting on the tips of grasses and leaves. When a host (human or otherwise) brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, the tick attempts to quickly climb aboard. If successful, it then finds a suitable place to attach to and bite its host.

Ticks can attach themselves to any part of your body, often in the scalp, armpits, or groin.

In general, ticks have to be attached to the body for at least 36 hours before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. This is why it's so important to check yourself for ticks daily if you spend time outside, especially if you live in an area where ticks are common.

Finding and removing a tick as quickly as possible is critical in averting the potential transmission of the Lyme bacterium or other tickborne germs.


In addition to seeking out human hosts, ticks can feed on other mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Most ticks prefer to have a different host animal at each stage of their life.

Lyme disease symptoms and signs, which can appear anywhere from 3 to 30 days after a deer tick bite, include:

  • The classic "bull's eye" tick bite rash originating at the site of the bite will show up on most infected people about 1 week after the tick bite. This expanding rash is also known as erythema migrans (EM).
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Neck stiffness
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Important: Although the CDC estimates that 70-80 percent of those infected with Lyme disease develop the bull's eye rash, it will not appear on everyone, so do not assume that you cannot have Lyme disease if you have other flu-like symptoms but not the rash.

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Also, an erythema migrans (EM) rash does not have to be circular. The rash can become very large (up to 16 inches in diameter) with diffuse edges. There may be multiple rash locations, not just one. The rash will not always form at the site of the tick bite.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, whether or not you locate an attached or unattached tick on your body, promptly see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

If Lyme disease goes untreated, additional and more severe symptoms can occur, including:

  • Intense headaches
  • Paralysis of facial muscles (palsy)
  • Severe joint and muscle pain and stiffness
  • Rashes on other areas of your body
  • Heart palpitations
  • Brain inflammation

If you suspect you may have Lyme disease or other tick-borne illness, see a doctor as quickly as possible for diagnosis and treatment.


1. Antibiotics

If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease early, antibiotics can often effectively treat the disease.

However, patients who continue to experience Lyme disease symptoms after antibiotic treatment is completed or who have chronic Lyme disease (also known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome), may need to turn to other solutions, since long-term antibiotic use can be ineffective, have a harmful impact on your body (especially on your gut microbiome), and weaken your immune system.

It's important to support the health of your entire body when battling Lyme disease and/or related infections. The disease itself plus the antibiotic treatment can take a heavy toll on your body.

  • During and after your initial antibiotic treatment, try to boost your immune system with vitamin C and other targeted immunity supplements.
  • Taking probiotics can help improve the health of your gut and strengthen your immune system during and after taking antibiotics.
  • Do a targeted rotation of essential oils.

2. Essential oils

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found evidence that certain essential oils can help eradicate the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium that causes Lyme disease.


These identified essential oils include:

  • Garlic
  • Allspice
  • Cumin
  • Palmarosa
  • Myrrh
  • Hydacheim
  • Amyris
  • Thyme
  • Litsea cubeba
  • Lemon eucalyptus
  • Cinnamon bark

Additionally, in my clinical experience treating patients with Lyme disease, I have found that marjoram, tangerine, frankincense, geranium, and oregano can also be effective support tools.

Rotating several of the essential oils mentioned above in order to target a Lyme infection in layers may be a beneficial strategy for many Lyme patients.


3. Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA)

Discussing the recent increase in cases of Lyme Disease, Dr. Josh Axe writes that "Lyme disease is gaining ground, following the path of a perfect storm: elevated burden of environmental toxins, rising stress levels, and numerous other inflammatory instigators, all exponentially compounding each other."

Key health factors highlighted by Dr. Axe can be measured through a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) test kit offered through Optimal Health Network and its lab partner, Analytical Research Labs, Inc.

The results of an HTMA can help you create a more effective individualized program to support you in healing from Lyme disease.


The material on this page is presented for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or prescribing from a licensed healthcare professional. Consult with your doctor before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment, or care, or starting any diet, exercise, cleansing, or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention.

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Kristina Amelong, CCT, CNC, is an I-ACT certified colon hydrotherapist, nutritional consultant, and the founder of the Optimal Health Network. If you have questions about hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) testing and/or Lyme disease prevention or management, you can reach out to her on her website for more information.