It can often be difficult to accurately notice and diagnose Lyme disease symptoms, but early detection is crucial to effective treatment, so awareness is the first step toward a successful recovery. Chronic Lyme disease symptoms are common, and often change based on the stage of infection. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a tick,or been in an area in which Lyme disease is common, and exhibits any of these signs, you should seek medical attention immediately.

While a small, red bump is common after a tick bite, you should monitor the area closely in the days following the incident and look for some of the early Lyme disease symptoms in humans. The first sign is known as an EM (Erythema migrans) rash, which develops at the affected area in between 70 and 80 percent of people with Lyme disease. This can begin anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the bite. An EM rash can be distinguished from other rashes based on its tendency to grow over time without being painful or itchy. While the outer area will remain red, the center of the rash will often clear up, giving it a bull’s-eye appearance. People in the early stages of Lyme disease may also experience flu-like symptoms.

Later symptoms and signs of Lyme disease can develop if the condition is left untreated, and they are more severe than the early effects. The most obvious is the presence of additional EM rashes, but there are some other common signs you should be aware of:

  • Arthritis leading to joint swelling and pain, most often in the knees
  • Bell’s Palsy, which causes temporary paralysis on one side of the face
  • Neck stiffness along with headaches

Along with these, some Lyme disease patients experience one or more of a set of less common symptoms:

  • Irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • Decreased short-term memory
  • Shortness of breath or dizziness
  • Pain in the tendons, nerves, or muscles
  • Inflamed brain and spinal cord
  • Numb or painful sensations in the extremities

While some of these may be hard to detect, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so if anyone you know is exhibiting these signs and may be at risk, don’t hesitate to contact a medical professional. Lyme disease gets more severe as more time goes on without treatment, so it’s important to be on the lookout for common Lyme disease symptoms.