Lyme disease symptoms, some very important facts!

Borrelia bacteria are spirochetes and are related to syphilis. The problem is that it is harder to treat that its STD cousin.  The Borrelia bacterium is one of the most complex that is known.  Interestingly enough, because of this, it was initially mis-classified with protazoa.  Accordingly, Brisson et al states:

“The genome of B. burgdorferi is one of the most, if not the most, complex of any bacterium” (Brisson et al 2012)

Lyme and Lyme-like disease can cause many and varied symptoms. These are dependent on the person infected (their immune response), the species or strain of the infection and the genetic makeup of the host (Some people seem more susceptible to infection then others).

“Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the United States. Because the disease affects multiple systems, patients may present with dermatologic, neurologic, rheumatologic, and/or cardiac symptoms.” (JAAPA. 2013)

Stephen Buhner in his book “Healing Lyme” states that there are a multitude of symptoms including skin, joint/tendon, neurological and organ symptoms. His list covers 2 pages in his book and includes cognitive dysfunction, muscle weakness, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep disorders (no sleep or too much sleep) and so on it goes. This list totals over 140 different symptoms.

Some of these include Chronic fatigue, muscle pain, chronic back pain, brain fog, dizziness, chest pain/ irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, noise intolerance, bladder issues.

What is clear is that Lyme and Lyme-like disease presents differently in each sufferer. Some will have anxiety, others may have Lyme rages, heart issues or a whole range of debilitating symptoms.

Compounding the problem of diagnosis is the fact that current testing is highly inaccurate. You may get a negative result from testing yet definitely have the disease.  According to Stephen Buhner in his book “Healing Lyme”:

“ELISA test is not all that effective in diagnosing Lyme disease.  In general some 40% of people known to have Lyme (because of EM rash) test negative for Lyme infection with ELISA…. studies have found ELISA to be negative in 35% of people in whom a skin biopsy found cultivable spirochetes.

The western blot (or immunoblot) isn’t really much better”

With the above in mind, the CDC recommends two different tests for a diagnoses, and a decision tree for the doctor to follow.  See  the CDC website for more details.

Your symptoms also will change over time.

Another issue with Lyme and Lyme-like disease is that the symptoms can be confused with other diseases. Web MD talking about rheumatoid arthritis says….

“Some people call Lyme disease “the great imitator,” because it can be confused with a number of other conditions, including:

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Food poisoning


Multiple sclerosis


Of course, rheumatoid arthritis”

According to Damiel Cameron MD on his website

“Patients with Lyme disease have been incorrectly diagnosed with: multiple sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, thyroid disease and psychiatric disorders, among others.”

He goes on the state among many other misdiagnoses that

“Lyme disease has also been mistaken for polymyalgia rheumatica, sports related injuries, and common medical conditions such as sinusitis, Epstein-Barr syndrome, rotator cuff tear, meniscus tear, edema, cellulitis, and pericarditis.”

Scientific American states…

“Lyme-causing bacteria are complex for another reason: Even within a single species of Borrelia, diversity flourishes. Contrary to what has long been believed, B. burgdorferi can genetically recombine to create different strains that behave dissimilarly inside the human body. Some strains seem more likely to remain in the skin whereas others are more likely to invade the nervous system or heart.” (Scientific American 2019)

Could some of these differences explain why Lyme patients report diverse symptoms and treatment outcomes?

According to The Pharmaceutical Journal OCT 2018 By Sandra Pearson here are some symptoms chemists are told to look out for.




Neck pain or stiffness;

Fever and sweats;

Mild cognitive impairment, such as memory problems and difficulty concentrating (referred to as ‘brain fog’);

Swollen glands;

Fleeting muscle and joint pains;


Sandra Pearson continues….

“Symptoms of Lyme disease may overlap with a range of other conditions, including other infectious diseases and tick-borne diseases, as well as a range of non-infectious neurological and auto-immune conditions. This includes but is not limited to:

Multiple sclerosis;

Bell’s palsy;


Parkinson’s disease;

Guillain-Barré syndrome;

Systemic lupus erythematosus;

Sarcoidosis.  (Mygland A et al 2010),

The relapsing remitting pattern of pain and fatigue may also resemble chronic fatigue syndrome.   Treib J, Grauer MT, Haass A et al 2000)”



Mygland A et alcv2010, Ljøstad U, Fingerle V et al. EFNS guidelines on the diagnosis and management of European Lyme neuroborreliosis. Eur J Neurol 2010;17(1):8–e4. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2009.02862.x]

Brisson D. et al. Genetics of Berrelia burgdorferi. Annu Rev Genet. 2012;46:1-13

Treib J, Grauer MT, Haass A et al. Chronic fatigue syndrome in patients with Lyme borreliosis. Eur Neurol 2000;43(2):107–109. doi: 10.1159/000008144