When Jennifer Farrell suffered from fever, chills and fatigue a couple of years ago, she chalked up the flu-like symptoms to crazy spring weather fluctuations that went from hot to cold almost overnight. Then the back of her neck started aching. Within days, the pain was so severe—a feeling she describes as “like a dog biting your neck and pulling really hard”—she had to rush out of a funeral to go to the emergency room. The diagnosis: A pinched nerve.
Farrell followed up with her family physician who asked, “Why weren’t you tested for Lyme disease?” But Farrell couldn’t find a bite mark and didn’t have the resulting circular “bull’s eye” rash that’s often a telltale sign of the bacterial illness. Even though the 30-year-old advertising executive lived in the woodsy town of Summit, New Jersey, she hadn’t been hiking in an area where she could have been exposed to infected ticks that transmit the disease. Still, the doctor ordered a blood test and called her a few days later with the results: “You tested positive for Lyme,” she said. “Get in here now.”
How to Spot Lyme Disease Symptoms
Farrell was treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling in her neck from meningitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes), a common symptom of Lyme disease. Three exhausting weeks later, she started feeling better. “I’m so glad my doctor suspected Lyme when she did. I could have had major complications,” she says. “All I can say is that if you have lingering flu symptoms, don’t brush them off. Get tested as soon as possible.”
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