Lyme disease season is here in some parts of the country, and if you’re pregnant, you might be particularly concerned about getting it (though it won’t affect your unborn baby). Here’s a checklist of the most common symptoms to look out for. And remember, if you think you may have been bitten by a deer tick or infected by Lyme, see your practitioner right away so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.
1. Red, circular bull’s-eye-shaped rash. This usually radiates from the bite site and is present in 80 to 90 percent cases of Lyme, though not everyone has it. If left untreated, it can get bigger or appear in other spots on the body.
2. Flu-like symptoms, including chills, body aches and joint pain, nausea, fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes.
3. Severe joint pain and arthritis. These are later symptoms and crop up the longer the infection has been untreated.
4. Facial palsy (paralysis of facial muscles). Another later-onset symptom in untreated cases of Lyme.
5. Irregular heartbeat. This typically doesn’t happen early on or if the infection is caught early but can happen later.
6. Fatigue. What pregnant woman doesn’t experience fatigue, right? This likely won’t appear as a symptom of Lyme unless you have an undetected case that hasn’t been treated early on. And it should be accompanied by some of the other symptoms; fatigue alone during pregnancy is totally normal and nothing to worry about.
7. Dizziness and shortness of breath. These are classic pregnancy symptoms without Lyme, so if you are experiencing them, don’t worry. See if you have any other signs of the infection on this list and consult your doctor if you do. These generally won’t appear until later in an untreated case.
8. Nerve pain. This one doesn’t happen unless Lyme goes untreated for a while.
9. Problems with short-term memory. Another later-stage Lyme symptom and another one that happens when you’re expecting anyway (hello, pregnancy brain!). Don’t be concerned if you’re experiencing this but no other late-stage Lyme symptoms.
10. Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. This will only happen in severe, untreated cases of Lyme later in the illness.
Bottom line: Do regular tick checks all over your body and in your hair, if you’ve been outside in the spring and summer months, especially you live in areas in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, where Lyme is more of a problem, and wear tick repellent with DEET or picaridin before going outside. Look for the telltale early signs and see your practitioner right away if you experience them or find a tick on your body. Chances are, you’ll get through the rest of the season without having to worry about Lyme at all, and even if you do get it, it’s easily treatable and won’t hurt your baby.