Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection, that is caused by a bacterium known as Treponema pallidum. According to research, there happens to be an increased rate of syphilis in men (particularly men who have sex with men), more than women, in the United States. What is the first sign of syphilis? It usually starts with a small, painless sore, and mostly appears on the sexual organs, like the rectum. It can also appear inside the mouth. Actually, when the infection is not treated for a long time, it can cause serious damage to important organs, like the brain and heart. The earlier syphilis is discovered, the better. Here is everything you need to know about syphilis.
What Are the Stages of Syphilis Infection?
There are four stages of syphilis, which include; primary, secondary, latent, and finally, tertiary.
Although syphilis is most infectious in the first two stages, the tertiary stage is the most destructive to health. However, when the infection is latent, or hidden, it usually remains active, but with no visible symptoms.
This usually occurs about three to four weeks, after the individual contracts the bacteria. In most cases, it starts with a small, painless round sore, known as a chancre. Although is it painless, it is highly infectious. You may find the sore, wherever the bacteria enter, in the body. It may be on the genitals, rectum, or even the mouth.
It is very important to note that syphilis is usually transmitted by direct contact with the sore, which may occur during sexual activity, oral sex inclusive. The sore may show up three weeks, after infection. However, the sore can take between ten to ninety days to show up. In fact, it could remain anywhere, between two to six weeks.
Secondary syphilis usually comes with skin rashes, and a sore throat may even develop during the second stage of the infection. Actually, the rash won’t itch, and although, it is usually found on both the palms and soles, it may also occur anywhere in the body. In most cases, people don’t notice the rash, before it disappears or goes away.
Other symptoms of secondary syphilis may include; swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, headaches, weight loss, hair loss, and even aching joints. Also, in most cases, secondary syphilis is often mistaken for another condition. Whether or not, the treatment is received, you need to understand that without the treatment, an individual still has syphilis.
In this third stage of syphilis, after the primary and secondary symptoms disappear, there won’t be noticeable symptoms. That doesn’t mean the bacteria won’t remain there in the body. Also, this particular stage could last for years, even before progressing to tertiary syphilis.
This is the last stage of syphilis infection. According to research, fifteen to thirty percent of people who don’t receive treatment for this infection will enter this stage. It basically occurs years or even decades, after the initial infection. In most cases, it can be life-threatening. Some of the outcomes of the infection in this stage may include; deafness, blindness, memory loss, mental illness, meningitis, neurosyphilis, heart disease, or even destruction of soft tissue, and bone.
What Are the Treatments for Syphilis?
Most primary and secondary syphilis are very easy to treat, with penicillin injection. Penicillin is actually one of the most widely used antibiotics and is very effective in the treatment of syphilis. Also, there may be people who are allergic to penicillin, as such, any of these antibiotics, like ceftriaxone, azithromycin, and doxycycline.
If you have neurosyphilis, you should get daily doses of penicillin, intravenously. This may actually often require a brief hospital stay. You just have to bear in mind that treating the infection is a priority. Also, make sure to avoid sexual contact, during treatment. Ensure all sores on your body are healed and wait for your doctor to tell you it’s safe to resume sex.
What Are the Possible Ways to Prevent Syphilis?
Of course, one of the best ways to prevent syphilis is to practice safe sex. Ensure you use condoms during sexual intercourse, to avoid contracting the infection. Also, syphilis can be transmitted through a shared needle. So, avoid sharing needles, especially if you are using injected drugs.