Summer season is here, yet we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is also the season for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness in the United States. This disease spreads through bites of infected ticks, and it could lead to permanent disability on our bodies if left untreated.
While these two diseases are different, some people mistook Lyme disease for COVID-19 and the other way around.
Here are some reasons why the symptoms of Lyme Disease and COVID-19 are confusing and the key features to distinguish between these two diseases easily.
What Makes COVID-19 And Lyme Disease Confusing
According to Jory Brinkerhoff, Ph. D, “Lyme, like other tick-borne diseases, is associated with general flu-like symptoms, [such as] fever, head and body ache fatigue. These are also symptoms of COVID-19.”
He added that “tick-borne diseases are not likely to cause respiratory symptoms like those seen in COVID-19, but there are certainly symptoms in common.”
Lyme disease’s early signs and symptoms include fever and chills, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. If left untreated, the last symptoms are severe headaches and stiffness, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc.
On the other hand, some early signs of COVID-19 are dizziness, shortness of breath, fever and chills, nausea, muscle or body aches, fatigue, congestion, diarrhea, sore throat, etc.
You can observe that some of Lyme disease symptoms look familiar because they overlap with the symptoms of COVID-19. But despite the similarities in the symptoms, doctors and scientists say that there are key symptoms that easily distinguish Lyme disease from COVID-19.
How The Illness Enters The Body
One of the first vital differences between Lyme Disease and COVID-19 is its entry into our bodies. Cold viruses and coronavirus enter the body through the nasal passages and tissues, so the most infected parts of the body are those in the respiratory system.
However, tick-borne diseases like Lyme Disease enters the body through the skin and bloodstream; hence the symptoms appear on our skin and other organs inside our bodies.
Testing And Treatment Options
There are two steps in testing for Lyme Disease, and both of which are blood tests. If both blood tests resulted positive, it is a definite diagnosis that you have Lyme Disease.
For COVID-19, it requires a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to detect if you have the RNA of the virus. The PCR test happens through swab tests or saliva samples.
To protect yourself from acquiring Lyme Disease, doctors recommend limiting your exposure in grassy or wooded areas, such as forests. Since a bacterial infection causes Lyme Disease, antibiotics such as amoxicillin can fully recover a patient.
On the other hand, doctors suggest to limit close face-to-face contact with people outside, wash your hands immediately once you get home and wear face masks if you are out to prevent transmission of COVID-19. There is no approved treatment or vaccine yet to cure COVID-19.
Erythema Migrans Rash
Erythema Migrans, also known as bullseye rash, is common among those who have Lyme Disease. 80% of the people suffering from this disease develop a rash around the tick bite, which resembles a bullseye.
This distinctive rash helps doctors to recognize that the person has Lyme Disease. The redness may feel warm to the touch, but it is itchy or painful, and it may appear on any part of the body. This symptom is not present in COVID-19.
Worsened Symptoms for Lyme Disease
Severe symptoms will appear if there are no early symptoms present that need treatment or left untreated. Lyme Disease can infect the skin, joints, muscles, nervous system, and heart rapidly. These symptoms may appear one to four months after the infection.
Some of these symptoms include conjunctivitis, swelling of the joints, facial palsy, multiple rashes appearing on the body, poor memory, and numbness in the arms or legs. These symptoms are usually not present in COVID-19 as well.
Know More About Lyme Disease And COVID-19
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we must protect ourselves whenever we go outside. This precautionary measure is crucial, especially to those who have Lyme Disease as they are more prone to the COVID-19 virus.
During this time, it is best to know both diseases to be prepared and be equipped with the necessary protection and medication for speedy recovery.