The Four Stages of Lyme Disease

The course of Lyme borreliosis can be divided into four stages. They can be distinguished from each other by severity, but are not clearly differentiated. Both the appearance and the severity of symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. Not all patients suffering from borreliosis suffer from all known symptoms. Some borreliosis disorders can be symptom-free.

Stage I (3-30 days after tick bite)

If there is a Borrelia infection in humans, skin lesions will often occur at the bite site, followed by reddening and inflammation of the surrounding skin area (Erythema migrans), which can expand. This is a clear sign of Lyme disease, but it only occurs in a max. 50% of borreliosis cases.

Frequently, flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headaches, and pain in the limbs, muscles and joints, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and fatigue also occur. Since these are nonspecific symptoms the diagnosis is often wrong if a red rash is not present. Also, the laboratory values for a borreliosis infection are not clear. Incorrect diagnoses lead to incorrect treatments with drugs, which further weaken the immune system and thus further deteriorate the health condition of the person concerned.

Stage II (days to weeks after tick bite)

The borreliosis pathogens spread throughout the host body. There may be chronic skin infections at various body sites, especially in the area of the extremities. In addition, the following symptoms may occur:

  • mood swings, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders
  • consciousness disorders, violent headache
  • pain and swelling of the joints
  • facial paralysis with loss of the muscle tone of one or both face halves
  • racing heart with dizziness due to changes in heart rate

Stage III (months to years after tick bite)

In the third stage, which can take place several months to years after the tick bite, the Borrelia settles in certain organs. In 5% of patients with untreated borreliosis, neurological disorders occur, which are characterized by pain, weakness, or itching of the hands and/or feet, disturbed shortterm memory, impairment of the muscles and severe exhaustion.

Also, heart problems as well as inflammation of the eyes and liver can occur. In addition, the joint pain and swelling can increase, i.e. we are talking about Lyme arthritis. Around 60% of patients with untreated borreliosis suffer from Lyme arthritis.

Stage IV (chronic stage)

The fourth stage is the chronic form of borreliosis, which includes, among other things, muscle and joint pain, consciousness disorders, neurological abnormalities, sleep disorders and fatigue as well as heart problems.

In 10 to 20% of the patients, the symptoms persist for many years and can lead to severe tissue damage or organ failure. In addition, micronutrient deficiency can develop and metabolic processes can change. This is referred to as the so-called borreliosis syndrome.