Skip to Content

Lyme Disease


  • Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacteria (germ) called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ixodes ticks (deer ticks) are carriers of the bacteria, and may infect you by biting through your skin. Deer ticks are most common in the Northeastern and North Central United States. Symptoms of Lyme disease may appear up to one month after you are bitten by a tick. Lyme disease may cause a target, or bull's eye like rash on your skin. Symptoms include a fever, sore throat, headache, stiff neck, feeling tired, and pain in your muscles and joints. Lyme disease may also lead to problems with your nerves, brain, and heart. You may have trouble thinking clearly, and you may not be able to move areas of your face. Lyme disease may also cause you to have abnormal heartbeats.
  • Your caregiver may know you have Lyme disease by looking at your rash. You may also need blood tests to check for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Caregivers may also test for bacteria in the fluid around your spinal cord, or the fluid around your joints. Treatment includes medicines to kill the germ causing Lyme disease. Medicines may also be used to decrease any pain and swelling in your joints. You may also need treatment to remove swollen joint tissue, or treatment to correct abnormal heartbeats. Treatment for Lyme disease may prevent or decrease symptoms such as joint pain and swelling. Treatment may also help stop the disease from spreading to your organs.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may have an allergic response to the medicines used to treat your Lyme disease. Certain medicines may cause your symptoms to become worse for a period of time. Even with treatment for Lyme disease, your symptoms may never go away. You may need to be treated for many months or years. Your symptoms may also go away and return at a later time, and you may need to be treated again.
  • Without treatment, the germs causing your Lyme disease may spread to other areas of your body. Your pain, swelling and trouble moving your joints may get worse. The Lyme disease may spread to your brain. You may have trouble walking, or have numbness, tingling, or pain in your arms and leg. You may have trouble with your memory and concentration, and you may have trouble sleeping. You may have changes in your mood and personality. Lyme disease may also cause swelling in the covering of your brain. If the Lyme disease spreads to your heart, you may have abnormal heartbeats. Your heart may not work as it should, and you may become very ill. Talk to your caregiver if you have questions or concerns about your disease or treatment.


Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


An IV (intravenous) is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Central line:

This is a special IV catheter or tube. It is put into a large vein (blood vessel) near your collarbone, in your neck, or in your groin. The groin is the area where your abdomen meets your upper leg. Other central lines, such as a PICC, may be put into your arm. You may need a central line to receive medicines or IV fluids that need to be given through a big vein. You may need a central line if your symptoms of Lyme disease are severe (very bad). Some central lines may also be used to take blood samples.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.


  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are germ-killing medicines. You may be given antibiotics to kill the germ that causes Lyme disease.
  • Nonsteroidal anti inflammatory medicine: This family of medicine is also called NSAIDs. NSAIDs may help decrease pain and inflammation (swelling) in your joints. Some NSAIDs may also be used to decrease a fever (high body temperature).
  • Steroids: You may be given steroids to reduce pain, redness, and swelling in your joints or brain from Lyme disease. If you have severe joint pain and swelling, the steroids may be given as an injection (shot) into your joint.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Imaging tests: You may need any of the following:
    • Joint x-ray: This is a picture of the bones and tissues in your joints. An x-ray may be needed to check for fluid and changes in the tissues around a painful joint. You may be given dye as a shot into your joint before the x-ray. This dye will help your joint show up better on the x-ray. A joint x-ray with dye is called an arthrogram.
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging: This test is called an MRI. During the MRI, pictures are taken of your head. An MRI may be used to look for changes in your brain caused by your Lyme disease. You will need to lie still during an MRI. Never enter the MRI room with any metal objects. This can cause serious injury. Tell your caregiver if you have any metal implants in your body.
    • Positron emission tomography scan: This is also called a PET scan. During the PET scan, pictures are taken of your brain. The pictures are used to look for areas in your brain that may be damaged by your Lyme disease.
  • Neuropsychological testing: This is testing done to learn if you are having problems with your memory, concentration, and thought processes. Ask your caregiver for more information about neuropsychological testing.

Treatment options:

You may need the following:

  • Temporary pacemaker: A pacemaker is a device that helps your heart beat normally. You may need a temporary (short-term) pacemaker if your Lyme disease has caused you to have a heart block. Ask your caregiver for more information about temporary pacemakers.
  • Surgery: You may need surgery if your joint pain and swelling does not improve. Surgery is done to remove swollen tissue from your joint to help decrease your pain. Ask your caregiver for more information about this surgery.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Lyme Disease (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.