The summer months are often the most enjoyable as the weather allows you to experience the great outdoors in all their glory. Unfortunately, the span of May through August is also peak season for Lyme disease, an ailment transmitted to humans from ticks found outdoors.

Lyme disease begins with a rash and fever and can advance to joint and muscle problems if left untreated. It typically takes a tick 48 to 72 hours of being attached to its host to transmit the disease and Lyme disease symptoms can emerge up to one month after the bite.

Why are the signs missed?

Part of the problem with Lyme disease misdiagnoses is that people are unaware of a tick bite because they’re so small. For instance, when was the last time you closely examined areas like your armpits or scalp? Very few people check these areas on a regular basis, which makes it less likely for them to notice they’ve become a tick’s host.

Another issue is that the symptoms of Lyme disease are identical to other conditions. Multiple sclerosis and arthritis are two conditions that also impact your joints and muscular system. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome also have similar symptoms to Lyme disease.

Blood testing for Lyme disease is difficult for several reasons. Certain other bacterial infections can trigger a false positive test and people may test negative while they carry the disease but have not yet shown symptoms. A blood test for Lyme disease is most accurate when you’re showing symptoms

Become your own advocate

Among the smartest things you can do is to check yourself for ticks each time you spend a significant amount of time outdoors, especially in high-grassy areas that ticks love. If you suspect that you have Lyme disease, log your symptoms and make an appointment with your doctor. Together, you can work out a treatment plan before the disease advances to its more debilitating stages.

Lyme disease is a difficult condition to diagnose, but you can reduce your chances for receiving a misdiagnosis by educating yourself on the disease’s symptoms and regularly checking yourself for ticks. Don’t let this summer turn into a cautionary tale.