I have Lyme Disease, and I correspond with people from all over who have Lyme Disease and other tickborne illnesses. A large percentage of them were first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. They suffered for years and then found out that they have Lyme Disease. These diseases, like Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, are extremely debilitating on many levels. Prompt and proper treatment greatly reduces the possibility of long-term complications; however, many people go undiagnosed for long periods of time and the disease becomes very chronic. I am hoping this post may help. Lyme Disease is a multi-system bacterial infection caused from the bite of an infected tick. It is the second fastest-growing infectious disease in the United States after AIDS. This is very significant, yet little is being done to educate people about its seriousness and prevalence. Many people who are bitten do not know it because ticks are tiny and they inject a numbing agent so you cannot feel them. Lyme Disease is difficult to diagnose because no test is completely reliable. As a result, it is grossly underreported. Many people have it and do not know it. Often, doctors falsely believe that Lyme exists only in the northeast, when in fact it has been reported in every state except Montana. Below is a Lyme Disease symptom list: SYMPTOM CHECK LIST Unexplained fevers, sweats, chills, or flushing Unexplained weight change--loss or gain Fatigue, tiredness, poor stamina Unexplained hair loss Swollen glands Sore throat Testicular pain/pelvic pain Unexplained menstrual irregularity Unexplained milk production: breast pain Irritable bladder or bladder dysfunction Sexual dysfunction or loss of libido Upset stomach Change in bowel function-constipation, diarrhea Chest pain or rib soreness Shortness of breath, cough Heart palpitations, pulse skips, heart block Any history of a heart murmur or valve prolapse? Joint pain or swelling Stiffness of the joints, neck, or back Muscle pain or cramps Twitching of the face or other muscles Headache Neck creeks and cracks, neck stiffness, neck pain Tingling, numbness, burning or stabbing sensations, shooting pains Facial paralysis (Bell's Palsy) Eyes/Vision: double, blurry, increased floaters, light sensitivity Ears/Hearing: buzzing, ringing, ear pain, sound sensitivity lncreased motion sickness, vertigo, poor balance Lightheadedness, wooziness Tremor Confusion, difficulty in thinking Difficulty with concentration, reading Forgetfulness, poor short term memory Disorientation: getting lost, going to wrong places Difficulty with speech or writing Mood swings, irritability, depression Disturbed sleep-too much, too little, early awakening Exaggerated symptoms or worse hangover from alcohol Ticks can also transmit several serious co-infections: --Babesiosis is similar to malaria. It is caused by a protozoa that invades, infects and kills the red blood cells. Symptoms include chills, sweats, fatigue, headache, weakness, muscle aches and pains, dizziness and heart palpitations. --Ehrlichiosis is an infection caused by a rickettsiae (a bacterial parasite) that invades and infects the white blood cells. There are two types of Ehrlichiosis--HME and HGE. Symptoms include fever, malaise, headaches, chills, sweating, severe muscle aches and pains, nonproductive cough, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. --Bartonella is also known as cat scratch fever and has recently been attributed to tick transmission Many people who have Lyme Disease have one or more of the co-infections. These illnesses are treatable with high-dose antibiotics. It is very important to see a knowledgeable doctor because many doctors do not understand these illnesses and treat them with outdated protocols. A bullseye rash is a definite sign of Lyme Disease, but only about 50% of people who have Lyme ever get a rash. If you get a rash, it is a good idea to photograph it for documentation. Place something near it, like a coin or ruler, before photographing to give it size definition. That way you have evidence of it if needed later. Here are a couple of sites where you can see some, not all, examples of Lyme rashes: http://www.lyme.org/gallery/rashes.html http://www.dis.strath.ac.uk/vie/LymeEU/images_medical.html The best defense against Lyme Disease and other tick-borne infections is prevention and education. There is a wonderful tick repellent you can buy for your clothing at Wal-Mart in the sporting goods section for about $5.00. It is called Repel Perma One. You spray your clothes and let them dry at least 2 hours before wearing (read the label entirely). If a tick even walks on them, it will die instantly. This is for your clothing only. It will last for up to two weeks or through five washings. You will still need a repellant for your skin. Research to determine which products are safe and best for children. Wearing light-colored clothing allows ticks to be seen easier. Realize that ticks can be as small as the period at the end of this sentence. Long sleeve shirts and long pants with clothes tucked in properly, reduce the amount of skin exposed. Also wear a hat. When coming inside after outdoor activity, remove your clothes promptly and wash and dry them at the hottest temperatures possible. Check for ticks on yourself, your children, and your pets--including under arms, behind knees, behind ears, on scalp, bellybutton etc. If you find a tick, the only safe way to remove it is with tweezers only. Bring tweezers as close to where it is attached to skin as possible, and grasp its mouthparts. Pull the tick straight back. Do not burn it with a match, do not put Vaseline or alcohol on it, and do not remove it with your fingers. Any of these methods will increase your risk of infection. Save it in a Ziploc bag, it can be tested for disease. I highly recommend the book "Everything You Need To Know About Lyme Disease" by Karen Vanderhoof-Forschner. It gives a lot of information on the disease, symptoms, treatments, tick identification and prevention, managing your property etc. Most bookstores can order it if it is not in stock or you can buy it on-line.