400 – Common Misdiagnosis
Lyme disease, often referred to as the “Great Imitator”, is often misdiagnosed as CFS, Fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, the flu, Bells Palsy, ALS, Autism, MS, Alzheimers, Autism, Parkinson’s or any of a host of psychiatric illnesses.
Early stages of Lyme often brings on FLU –like symptoms such as: fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph glands. In this phase, 20-30% who contract the disease will experience Bulls-eye rash. Persons experiencing this rash should be treated immediately. Not doing so may lead to more severe symptoms later as well as a longer recovery period.
If not treated early, the disease begins to spread and enters a second stage whereby neurological symptoms may arise. A person may experience numbness or paralysis in their arms or legs, fever, stiffness, severe headaches, or an abnormal heart rate. This phase generally begins after a few months.
The final stage, or the chronic stage, may set in after several months or even years after first contracting the disease. The symptoms become much more exaggerated and severe. Memory problems and difficulty concentrating surface, arthritis may occur, spasticity, sleep apnea, difficulty balancing may occur. Lengthy treatment is generally required for chronic patients, possibly lasting years.
Often, the symptoms of chronic patients mimic many of the diseases listed above. For this reason, it is essential that the patient gets properly tested for Lyme. It is also important to remember that fifty percent of Lyme tests are incorrect, so having multiple tests from varying labs is valuable.
This section of the handbook discusses a few of the more common misdiagnosis occurring today.