Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease. It can sometimes, be passed through close bodily contact and a prolonged kiss. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are transmitted through sexual intercourse. STDs can also be contracted from sharing needles or breastfeeding, depending on the type of STD. Syphilis requires a medical diagnosis because there are many diseases under the STD umbrella. Syphilis is a type of STD, so, one needs to get tested to know for sure the kind of STD they have. Pregnant women are advised to get tested, so as to avoid transmitting the disease to their unborn child(ren). When a child is born with syphilis, it is called congenital syphilis. This can cause the child(ren) to be born with abnormalities, it could even cause death in severe cases. Protect your unborn child by getting tested and taking care of the problem before it spreads. Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by Treponema Pallidum. This disease is quite common and can be treated, however, it is important that it does not progress, as it may cause some deformities in the body.
Stages of Syphilis
In this stage, painless sores begin to appear on the anus, mouth, vagina or penis, it usually appears on the part of the body one contracted it through. The sores would begin to heal without treatment, leaving the bacteria present in the body. The primary stage of syphilis can be treated, however, it would most definitely progress to the secondary stage of syphilis if not treated.
The bacteria spread to the bloodstream and can start to manifest its symptoms 4-10 weeks after infection. The secondary stage is characterized by non-itchy body rash. This rash can spread to the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and the whole body of an infected person. These rashes could be smooth or scaly. A person in the secondary stage of syphilis may experience swollen lymph glands, fever, fatigue, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, loss of appetite, enlarged lymph nodes and patches that look like warts around the genitals. The secondary stage of syphilis can be treated; it is important to get a thorough treatment to reduce the risk of it recurring. People with syphilis have a high chance of having HIV because HIV can be transmitted through syphilitic sores. HIV and syphilis have similar characteristics.
This stage has no symptoms and is more deadly than the second stage of syphilis. The latent stage may last from 1 year to 5 years. Syphilis may be uncurable or difficult to cure at this point. One may most likely relapse because they did not experience any symptoms in the secondary stage. One can only be diagnosed by getting tested as there are no symptoms in this stage.
This is the late stage of syphilis. One may not experience symptoms of syphilis at this point, but symptoms of diseases that are as a result of complications. One may develop these complications as a result of untreated and late-stage syphilis. Here are some complications that may arise from having tertiary stage syphilis:
- Gummas is a benign growth that is a complication from late-stage syphilis. Gummas can be found in the liver, brain, heart, bone, testis and even in the skin. Gummas can be treated with antibiotics, the growths would most likely disappear after treatment.
- Neurological problems may plague people with the late stage of syphilis. This condition is called neurosyphilis and it can be life-threatening. Here are some types of neurosyphilis:
It is a mild type of neurosyphilis that usually manifests no signs. It is, however, a disease that damages the central nervous system, the liver and nerve cells may also be permanently compromised. One may develop asymptomatic syphilis 3-15 years after initial infection.
Persons suffering from meningeal neurosyphilis may experience vomiting, nausea, stiff neck, headache and maybe the loss of hearing and vision.
It has the same symptoms people suffering from meningeal neurosyphilis have, with the addition of stroke. General paresis develops years, possibly decades after a syphilis infection. This can cause patients to suffer from weakened muscles, emotional troubles, mood swings, paranoia, personality changes, loss in language utilization and even dementia.
It is a rare type of neurosyphilis that can damage the spinal cord decades after a syphilis infection. Persons with this condition may experience vision problems, an altered walking posture, incontinence, loss of coordination, trouble balancing and pains in the arms, legs, and abdomen.
It is caused by late-stage syphilis which may involve the heart, aorta and aortic valve. It could also compromise the heart, which may eventually cause death. Cardiovascular problems can pose problems in the form of endocardium and valve disease, myocardium disease, pericardium disease, supraventricular arrhythmia, and bradycardia and heart block.
Pituitary gland involvement can also be called hypopituitarism. This is a situation where the pituitary gland produces small amounts of hormones. This can cause patients to age prematurely and cause dwarfism in children.
People with syphilis have a high risk of contracting HIV. The sores that appear on the skin of persons with syphilis can act as a passage for HIV onto the body. People with syphilis are at a more high risk of contracting HIV than people who do not have syphilis. Gastric syphilis is a very rare complication of syphilis. Persons who suffer from gastric syphilis may experience weight loss, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, and anorexia. Syphilis can be prevented.
How to Prevent Syphilis
It is advisable to use condoms during sexual intercourse, even when having oral sex. This is so because syphilis can be contracted through oral sex.
Abstain from Sex
One can always abstain from sex to avoid contracting STDs such as syphilis.
Don`t Share Sex Toys
Sex toys should be used on one person only; it should be peculiar to an individual. Sharing sex toys can spread syphilis.
Getting Tested before Sex
Two people who are committed to having sex for a long time may get tested before practicing unprotected sex. But, they must not have sex with other people they are not sure of their status. This way they have a clean bill of health and can have sex without the fear of contracting an STD.
Avoid Sharing Needles
Syphilis can be spread through needles, so, it is advisable to use new and sterilized needles.
How to Deal with Syphilis
It is important that a person diagnosed with syphilis gets treated immediately, as it may cause blindness and paralysis. It may also compromise the heart, liver and nervous system. Seeing a doctor immediately is paramount to the person’s health. Getting shots of antibiotic penicillin is a treatment that is recommended for persons with syphilis. The number of shots to be had depends on the severity of syphilis and the doctor’s recommendation. Using an aggressive approach is necessary as this reduces the risk of syphilis recurring. Transferring syphilis to a newborn can cause deafness, seizures, cataracts, birth defects, stillbirths and death in the infant. Some people have headaches, nausea, chills, fever and joint pain as a reaction to the penicillin antibiotics. This is nothing to worry about; these reactions usually last about 24 hours.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can become deadly if left untreated. There is no managing syphilis — it should be treated as early as possible so as to prevent dire complications from arising. Consult a doctor the moment you start to manifest the symptoms of syphilis for treatment.