Dizziness can be caused by everything from dehydration to neurological conditions. Inner ear problems top the list of common culprits. But did you know that Lyme disease—at every stage—can cause dizziness?
Early Lyme tends to mimic the flu with symptoms such as fatigue, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. But once Borrelia burgdorferi spreads, it can damage every part of your body. By category, here are some of the many ways late-stage Lyme disease can rear its hostile head.
Two years ago, I snapped this photo after my husband scraped my hair off our rug.
In fact, fatigue was probably my most debilitating Lyme symptom. Apparently, this is normal. According to Healthline, “Tiredness, exhaustion, and lack of energy are the most frequent symptoms.”
Do you also have a fever, headache, and sore throat? You might have the flu, COVID-19, or, yes, Lyme disease. But did you know that Lyme can also damage your heart?
Cardiac and Pulmonary
Untreated Lyme often progresses to Lyme arthritis or Lyme neuroborreliosis. In other words, the bacteria primarily infects either the joints (arthritis) or the nervous system (neuroborreliosis). More rarely, it becomes Lyme carditis, where the disease targets your heart.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Lyme carditis occurs in approximately one out of every hundred Lyme disease cases….”
Hallmark symptoms include fainting, light-headedness, chest pain, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. Heart block, pulse skips, rib soreness, and valve prolapse can also occur.
But Lyme not only spurs trips to the hospital but trips to the bathroom.
My first warning something was wrong appeared in the form of nausea and vomiting.
My initial nausea was probably caused by the tick secretions themselves rather than Lyme. Still, Lyme can cause nausea, vomiting, and a host of other gastrointestinal symptoms. Some of these include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Joint pain is one of the classic and most common manifestations of Lyme disease. In fact, around eighty percent of people with untreated Lyme report this symptom.
Lyme sufferers also tend to experience pain in the bones, feet, ankles, and muscles. Other musculoskeletal symptoms include back stiffness, joint swelling, muscle cramps, and neck cracking.
For many people, Lyme primarily causes musculoskeletal symptoms. For others, it primarily causes neurological ones.
Dizziness is a common neurological manifestation of Lyme disease. Other neurological symptoms include brain fog, nerve pain, motion sickness, and muscle twitching.
Some patients face hearing loss and ear pain or ringing. Others struggle with light or sound sensitivity.
A year before I was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme, I attended a writer’s conference in Texas. Though not everything went my way, I got to meet the lady who had given my novel a glowing review in the Library Journal. In fact, she had also named Snow Out of Season the Christian Fiction Debut of the Month for November 2015.
Before the conference, she asked the staff to arrange a meeting with me. She said, “I have to meet the woman who wrote this book!”
What a dream come true for a buddling novelist! Yet, during the conference—especially by the end—I felt deeply depressed. What in the world was wrong with me?
Depression, mood swings, and even personality changes often haunt late-stage Lyme sufferers. Many also battle irritability, panic attacks, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Unfortunately, to compound the problem, patients with late-stage Lyme frequently battle insomnia. (Read my tips for sleep struggles here!)
Finally, men with late-stage Lyme can endure pelvic pain and testicular pain. Women can experience menstrual irregularity. Both can face loss of libido.
Lyme disease, thankfully, does not lead to alpha-gal syndrome, the allergy to red meat you may have heard of. But a bite from a Lone Star tick can lead to this life-altering condition. Click here to read my dad’s story!