The Surprising Symptoms Of Lyme Disease That EVERYONE Should Know

by Phil Mutz
Phil is an Editor at LittleThings. He loves writing and the outdoors. You can often find him at the movies or the park.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States.

Lyme disease is a very treatable disease, but the pain and discomfort it can cause the body can be really extreme if it is not detected early on. Just like with recognizing the symptoms of a stroke, knowing the signs of Lyme disease can help you get crucial medical attention sooner rather than later.

This painful and often debilitating disease is caused by a bacteria carried in blacklegged and deer ticks. When an infected tick bites you, the bacteria can make its way into your bloodstream, causing you to contract Lyme disease.

The CDC writes, “Seek medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms and have had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where Lyme disease occurs.” While this should never take the place of professional medical advice, recognizing these symptoms in yourself or others can make the difference between getting necessary immediate treatment or not.

Some of these symptoms I had known about before, but I had no idea about many of them. Scroll through to see the early signs of Lyme disease, which usually occur in the first 30 days, as well as the advanced signs, which can occur up to months later.

Early Symptoms of Lyme Disease

symptoms of lyme disease
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

One of the clearest signs that you may have Lyme disease is a very unique bullseye rash that occurs in between 70 and 80 percent of infected people.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “From 3 to 30 days after an infected tick bite, an expanding red area might appear that sometimes clears in the center, forming a bullseye pattern. It is typically not itchy or painful.” It may get bigger over time, potentially reaching as big as a foot across.

These rashes tend to be a signature sign for those with Lyme disease, so if you spot this, you should see your doctor right away.

symptoms of lyme disease
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Muscle aches can be commonly associated with Lyme disease soon after infection.

According to Healthline, these muscle aches can be hard to diagnose. They write, “The incubation period can lead to confusion about your symptoms. If you don’t remember being bitten, you may think you have the flu and won’t necessarily connect the tick bite and your symptoms.”

While muscle aches can be associated with many different ailments including the flu, if you are experiencing them soon after being bitten by a tick, you should see your doctor right away.

symptoms of lyme disease
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Fatigue can be a sign of many things, including simple overexertion. However, it can also be a sign of Lyme disease.

According to, 76% of people with Lyme disease will experience fatigue in the early stages of the infection. Fatigue can often be misdiagnosed as something else, so it is important to consider it in conjunction with the other Lyme disease symptoms.

If you feel severe fatigue and have recently been exposed to ticks, you may want to be safe rather than sorry by seeking medical attention.

symptoms of lyme disease
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

A fever is another one of the flu-like symptoms that can develop in the early stages of Lyme disease.

The CDC writes, “Fever and other general symptoms may occur in the absence of [a] rash.” A prolonged fever, or a particularly high fever, is always cause for alarm, as it could be an indication of several serious problems.

If you experience a fever, particularly in conjunction with a rash or some of these other symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

symptoms of lyme disease
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

A sudden or severe headache is never a symptom that you should ignore, and it is also one of the possible signs of Lyme disease.

The Mayo Clinic writes that “a headache may accompany the rash.” And according to, 70% of infected people experienced headaches in the early stages.

Like many of these flu-like symptoms, a headache could certainly be an indication of something else, but it is better to get it checked out to be safe.

symptoms of lyme disease
LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Swollen lymph nodes are generally a sign that something out of place is going on in your body and can be one of the indicators of Lyme disease.

The CDC includes swollen lymph nodes among the “early signs and symptoms” to watch for when determining if you may have been infected. Lymph nodes are located throughout your body, including your neck, armpit, and groin regions.

Again, if you experience swollen lymph nodes in conjunction with any of these other symptoms, it is probably best to pay your doctor a visit.

Go to the NEXT page for the advanced symptoms of lyme disease that are just as vital and surprising.