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I'm frequently asked what the symptoms of Lyme disease are and it's difficult to answer that question in a reasonable length of time since those symptoms can be wide-ranging, non-specific, and very different from one patient to the next.

When you get right down to it, the symptoms themselves aren't nearly as important as how those symptoms behave. Lyme symptoms can be unpredictable. That may be an understatement. They can come and go without rhyme or reason. They can flock together in ever-changing combinations. And they can flourish for weeks or months at a time only to disappear, seemingly forever, before roaring back stronger and more chaotic than ever.

For some people, the symptoms of Lyme disease are relatively mild and easy to ignore. They can be chocked up to the effects of aging or seen as the reasonable consequences of a misspent youth. For others, they are overwhelming, debilitating, and life-altering. Some Lyme sufferers are bedridden, unable to walk or even stand without assistance.

Most people with chronic Lyme disease report suffering from severe fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and cognitive deficits that can impact memory, recall, and the ability to think clearly. But Lyme has many symptoms and it's not uncommon to come across lists of symptoms that rise into the hundreds.

There are many places that provide lists of Lyme disease symptoms, like here or here or here.

When reviewing these lists, keep in mind the non-specific nature of many of these symptoms. Even if you have a dozen symptoms on these lists, that does not necessarily mean that you have Lyme disease. What it does mean is that you should consult a qualified medical practitioner who can help you put your symptoms into some sort of context and help you to explore whether Lyme disease is a possibility in your case.

And remember this: Although Lyme disease famously begins with a tick bite, most people who have Lyme disease cannot remember ever being bitten by a tick. And although Lyme disease's most famous symptom is a bull's eye rash, very few people ever see that rash or any other rash in response to a Lyme infection. Neither the absence of a rash nor the inability to recall a tick bite rules out Lyme disease. Many sufferers have found that out the hard way.

Picture of Vanessa FarnsworthVanessa Farnsworth is a British Columbia-based writer with an in-depth knowledge of Lyme disease. Her work has been published in magazines & journals across Canada and in the United States.
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