Lyme Disease symptoms and testing

How do you test for Lyme Disease?

June 27, 2023

Jason Ferrier

What is Lyme Disease?

Summer is here and that means more time spent in the great outdoors.  Unfortunately, one of the downsides of getting out in the fresh air is an increase in cases of illnesses that are spread by insects, especially Lyme Disease.  Precautions such as avoiding walking through brush and long grass, wearing long pants when hiking, and using insect repellant can reduce your risk of contracting Lyme.  But, if you spend a lot of time outdoors, there is still a chance you may be the victim of a tick bite.  Knowing how to recognize the potential symptoms of Lyme Disease and the best way to test for an infection can help avoid long-term health complications.    

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States.  It is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi which is spread to humans through the bites of black-legged ticks also known as deer ticks.  Ticks become infected with the bacteria when they feed on infected wildlife, usually rodents.  A tick usually takes 36-48 hours to transmit Lyme bacteria to a human.  Finding and removing ticks quickly can significantly reduce your risk of infection.

What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?

The most recognizable symptom of Lyme is a bullseye-shaped rash that originates from the site of the bite.  About 70-80% of Lyme patients develop this rash within a week to 30 days from the initial infection.  The telltale rash will not appear on everyone with Lyme, and it will not always have the same appearance.   Other symptoms that may develop include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and swelling of the lymph nodes.  When not treated, Lyme can spread to other parts of the body.  to the joints, heart, or nervous system.

Like many infections, identifying Lyme Disease early is key to successful treatment.  Most cases of Lyme can be cured with antibiotics.  In some cases, a doctor can diagnose Lyme based just on a person’s symptoms, especially if those symptoms include a distinctive rash.  However, many of the symptoms of Lyme are common to other ailments, so it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from other illnesses. 

How do you test for Lyme Disease?

Blood testing is a common way to determine if someone has been infected with Lyme.  If you experience symptoms that are associated with Lyme disease, especially if you have recently suffered from a tick bite or live in areas where ticks are prevalent, getting tested can spare you from a serious illness.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends a 2-step process for Lyme Disease testing.  The first step is an antibody test.  Lyme antibodies typically develop within a few weeks of infection.  Testing too early may result in a false negative.  A person who tests negative but continues to have symptoms of Lyme should consider waiting a few weeks and testing again.  In most cases, the presence of Lyme antibodies is not considered definitive.  Other types of viral or bacterial infections or autoimmune diseases can sometimes cause a false-positive result on an antibody test.  If the initial test shows that antibodies are present, a follow-up confirmatory test should be performed on the same blood sample.   Positive results on a confirmation test should be followed up with a doctor.

Where can I get a Lyme Disease Test?

Request A Test offers a quick and easy way to get tested for Lyme Disease.  There’s no doctor’s visit required and no need to get approval from an insurance provider.  Just order a test and go to a lab in your area.  We work with over 4,000 CLIA-certified lab sites across the United States so getting a Lyme test near you is no problem.  Our most popular testing option is the Lyme Total Antibodies blood test.  This test follows the CDC-recommended 2-step testing process to ensure your test results are as accurate as possible.  We also offer other testing selections to best suit your needs. 

A Lyme PCR test looks for the genetic material for the bacterium that causes Lyme.  This test can identify early infection before an antibody test.  It can also be used to test people who have already been treated for Lyme but continue to experience symptoms. 

A Lyme Immunoblot test can be used to confirm a positive result from a previous test.  This test can also help to differentiate between a recent or past infection. 

In addition to Lyme Disease, Request A Test also offers hundreds of other tests that can be ordered by anyone at any time.  You choose the test, and you choose when to get tested.  To get started, visit us online or call our team at 888-732-2348 to place an order.  We're also happy to answer your questions and help you choose the right test for your circumstances.  Don't wait.  No one is going to advocate for your health better than you can.  

DISCLAIMER: The medical information in this post is for informative purposes only.

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