(This image shows my 3-year-old son’s back 5-and-a-half weeks after he was bitten by a tick in County Galway, Ireland. These hives were one of his first symptoms of Lyme disease.)
Here’s the Complete List of My 3-Year-Old Child’s Early Lyme Disease Symptoms
My child’s Lyme disease symptoms have always been very different from my own. I have read that children’s Lyme symptoms often manifest differently. For this reason, I’m listing my 3-year-old son’s symptoms in case they can prove helpful to other parents.
My son was bitten in County Galway, Ireland on July 2, 2015. I removed the tick within 4 hours.
Note: My son and I did not develop a bull’s eye rash at any point. Contrary to popular belief, less than 50% of Lyme-disease patients ever develop a bull’s eye rash (i.e., erythema migrans) (see page 3 of this document from a 2010 study in Maine for more details). If you or someone you know has a bull’s eye rash, the CDC considers this inarguable PROOF of Lyme disease — no positive test is needed before beginning treatment. If a doctor tells you differently, it is time to seek a new doctor immediately, before the disease becomes more difficult to treat. See the bottom of this post for details about finding a Lyme-literate doctor.
5 weeks after the bite
My son developed a dry cough August 6. It was intermittent (only a few times a day). He never had a runny nose or sore throat, just the cough. This lasted for approximately two months, and faded away about one month after starting Lyme disease treatment.
5.5 weeks after the bite
On August 11, my son developed blotchy red hives all over his body. He has no known food allergies, and had not been exposed to anything new. He had never had hives previously. The marks were raised and blotchy, not itchy, but appeared and disappeared in different areas all over his body for approximately 24 hours.
2 months after the bite
Based on indeterminate results from a Western Blot test, my son began treatment on September 3.
2.5 months after the bite
Around mid-September, two weeks intro treatment, my son began to gag and choke at least once per day while drinking water or milk. This lasted until mid-October (about 1.5 months into treatment), then went away.
6.5 months after the bite
On December 15, about 3.5 months into treatment, my son had a raw, red circle on his back, about the size of a dime. It was not itchy or tender, was very slightly raised, and had a smooth surface. (The circle was not in the same place where he was bitten on his back.) I applied some anti-fungal cream, thinking it might be from yeast (due to all of the antibiotics), and the mark dried out and faded within a week.
7.5 to 8.5 months after the bite
On January 15, about 4.5 months into treatment, my 3-year-old son had several red spots on his lower back. They were just like the spot that he’d had in December. A week later, he began choking on water again, swallowing loudly, and the dry cough returned. Around this time, he had an abraded-looking red mark on his right shoulder/neck area (with no known cause), and had a period of being VERY moody and negative.
The dry cough lasted on-and-off for a few weeks, as well as moodiness. His energy levels also seemed to wane. Around the week of February 6 to 9, he wet the bed three times, which was unheard of for him. He also had a 102-degree fever around the same time. The circular spot rashes on his back were still present, and there was a new spot on his right shoulder.
On February 19, 20, and 21, he seemed to lose control of his bladder, and wet his pants a small amount. Again, this was unheard of for him. He had been potty-trained since his second birthday.
On February 21, after six months of a very basic antibiotic (amoxicillin), we finally switched to two stronger antibiotics for my son. Around that time, he got two nasty viruses from day care, which really threw his body off track.
9 months after the bite
On March 6, he wet the bed again in the middle of the night, then lost control of his bladder in the afternoon. He was very tired and slow all day. The dry cough went away for a few weeks, then came back on March 22, lasting through March 25.
10.5 months after the bite
On April 17, the dry cough returned for two days, and he choked on water once. He had several days of being extremely clingy, moody and argumentative. It’s difficult to know if this was just typical 4-year-old behavior (yes, he’s 4 now!), or if it’s caused by the Lyme disease.
11 months after the bite
At this point, he has been on the same two antibiotics (azithromycin/zithromax and ceftibuten/cedax) since late February, which is about 3.5 months. He no longer has any red spots on his back. He does, however, have a small red patch below one lip, which I’m trying to treat with coconut oil (as an anti-fungal). This entire process is terribly confusing. He has always said that he has no pain in his body, no headaches, and he has slept well at night (from 8pm to 6:30am) since the beginning. Who knows what is going on?
He has been tested for the full range of co-infections, including babesia (both microti and duncani), bartonella, anaplasma, ehrlichia, mycoplasma, rickettsia and chlamydia pneumonia. In fact, he has had several babesia tests due to the repeated dry cough. Everything other than Lyme disease has been negative, for which we are hugely grateful.
Nonetheless, his doctor does not believe that my son is ready to stop treatment. His CD57 natural killer cell count has been steadily dropping since we began measuring it in October:
October 2015 CD57: 88
December 2015 CD57: 62
March 2016 CD57: 50
The LLMD would like to see my son’s CD57 numbers above 100 as a sign that his body has gained hold over the Lyme disease.
I hope this list can help others identify early symptoms of Lyme disease in their children. Please see my post about finding a Lyme-literate doctor near you for more information.