Lyme Symptoms & Testing

According to the CDC, Lyme Disease – an infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria – accounts for 80% of all tick-borne infections. The CDC currently estimates that up to 467,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed by a doctor with and treated for Lyme Disease annually.

The incidence of this disease continues to rise, making it the fastest-growing vector infection in the United States. Ixodes, the black-legged ticks that transmit Lyme, have been found in 43 U.S. states. The risk of being infected with Lyme Disease is highest between Spring and Fall. However, the disease can occur throughout the year if you live in more temperate areas of the United States such as California.

The number of co-infections that ticks carry has also increased in recent years. There are now more than 10 different co-infections that can be transmitted to individuals who have been bitten by a tick, including Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, Ehrlichiosis/Anaplasmosis, Powassan Virus, Rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tick-borne Relapsing Fever.

Lyme Prevention: You & Your Family Are Worth It

Lyme disease prevention is incredibly important for you and your family. Here’s what you need to know in order to protect yourself and your family from tick bites:

​Where to expect ticks

We all know that ticks are frequently found in wooded and brushy areas or fields with high grass, but they can also make their home in your backyard. Ticks such as a deer tick, like to inhabit the shady areas of your yard as well as those areas of your yard that are adjacent to the woods, to a field, or to stone walls/woodpiles.

  • Check out the Lyme Disease Association’s Guide to Property Prevention: Quick Tricks to Stop Ticks for ways you can make your yard less inviting for ticks.
  • Consider taking part in the research effort behind the Tick App that provides info on tick exposure in your area as well as allows you to report tick activity in your area. This research project is performed by Columbia University & the Northeast Center of Excellence for vector-borne diseases.

Property Prevention: Quick Tricks to Stop Ticks

What to wear when outdoors

Dressing for success can make all the difference when it comes to preventing a tick bite. Here’s what to wear:

  • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts & pants.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks & tuck your shirt into your pants.
  • Consider using a tick repellent. Check out the EPA’s & EWG’s advice on repellents here.

What to do after spending time outdoors

Time to do a thorough deer tick bite check on yourself, your family & your pets. Here’s the checklist:

  • Check your clothes, pets, and gear for ticks before entering your home or car.
  • Change out of your clothes completely. You can put dryer-safe clothing articles in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes to remove any clinging ticks.
  • Take a Shower: Showering can help you both identify & wash off any ticks that may be crawling on you.
  • Check yourself & others for ticks: This is one of the most important steps to take as ticks can crawl all over your skin without you even noticing it. Conduct a full-body check and pay special attention to these areas.

Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)

What to do if you find a tick

There is a right way and a wrong way to remove a tick.

  • Watch this video from the Lyme Disease Association on proper techniques for removing ticks after a tick bite.
  • Contact your healthcare provider for the next steps. This step is crucial for helping prevent Lyme disease spread, lowering risk of undiagnosed Lyme disease, and helping with Lyme disease prevention for others.
  • Save the tick in case by carefully putting it in a sealed ziploc bag in case your health care provider recommends that it be tested. (It’s important to note that although the tick you removed may carry several bacteria, not every bacteria was transmitted to you. If you elect to get the tick tested, you will most likely be responsible for the cost of testing.)

What acute Lyme disease looks like

Less than one-fifth of the people diagnosed with Lyme disease get the classic bull’s eye rash, but the risk is worth getting checked. Early symptoms of Lyme disease can appear anytime from 3 – 30 days after being bitten by a tick. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms which may indicate acute Lyme disease:

  • Flu-like symptoms: fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches & pains, fever, chills.stiff neck.
  • Rash on skin
  • Joint Pain
  • Headache
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

Four Important Facts About Lyme Disease You Should Know From a Functional Medicine Doctor.

  1. Lyme Disease is known as the Great Imitator because its symptoms mimic many other chronic illnesses making it harder for a true diagnosis and harder to treat Lyme disease. A large percentage of people suffering from Lyme Disease never had the classic bull’s eye rash. If you live in areas where Lyme Disease is endemic like the Northeast or the Upper Midwest, you should familiarize yourself with the symptoms of Early Lyme to allow for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
  2. Lyme Disease in children can cause different symptoms from those in adults. Kids infected with Lyme may complain of headaches, fatigue, become irritable or have mood swings.
  3. Ticks carry more infections than just Lyme Disease. All labs will test for the presence of Borrelia Burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. However, ticks carry more than one type of Borrelia bacteria as well as many other bacterial infections that, if untreated, can have serious implications for your health, including long-term effects on your nervous system. Learn more about our testing here.
  4. Prevention is the best policy. Don’t take a chance with Lyme Disease! Protect yourself and your family from Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases.

Testing for Tickborne Diseases

Ticks often carry up to 3 different types of bacteria. If you’ve been bitten by a tick, it’s important to test for all the different tickborne diseases.

If you suspect you may have been bitten by a tick or have symptoms suggestive of Lyme disease, be sure to contact your healthcare provider. Early treatment is important for having a successful outcome and helping with chronic Lyme disease prevention.

If you would like more information on testing for Lyme disease with a functional medicine doctor, ways to help prevent Lyme disease, and co-infections, or how you can optimize your body’s immune response to tick-borne illnesses, please call Dr. Sarah Williams here in Concord, MA.

Acute vs Chronic Lyme Disease: Symptoms at a Glance

Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)


Immune Balance is an important part of the Functional Medicine approach to caring for individuals with acute and chronic Lyme Disease. Allow Dr. Sarah Williams here in Concord, MA, to help heal your body.