What Are Some Long-Term Effects of Lyme Disease?

Possible long-term effects of Lyme disease include facial palsy, neuropathy, impaired memory, heart rhythm irregularities and chronic inflammation of the joints, particularly the knees, says Mayo Clinic. These effects are unlikely to occur if the disease is treated promptly.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by deer ticks when they bite humans, Mayo Clinic explains. Generally, the ticks must remain attached for 36 to 48 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease. The more immediate symptoms of Lyme disease include chills, fever, body aches, fatigue and headache. A rash shaped like a bull’s eye around the tick bite, which is a hallmark of the disease, develops a couple of days following the bite. Inflammation of the liver or the eye can arise several weeks after the initial infection. People who suspect they’ve been bitten should see a doctor even if initial symptoms go away on their own, as Lyme disease can sometimes progress asymptotically months or years after the infection.

The standard treatment for early-stage Lyme disease consists of oral antibiotics, states Mayo Clinic. When the disease has progressed to attack the nervous system, intravenous antibiotics may be needed. While these are effective at eliminating the disease organisms, the symptoms they cause may persist for some time. Even in the case that curing the disease is relatively simple, a few people experience lingering muscle aches and fatigue.