What Is Syphilis?
Syphilis refers to a bacterial infection caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. Syphilis is transmitted through vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex. According to reports by the CDC, there are over 55,000 new cases of syphilis infection in the United States every year. 13,000 of these infections are in the primary and secondary stages, which are the most infectious. In its early stages, syphilis has a cure. If not treated early, the infection can lead to serious complications that are irreversible. Syphilis mimics many other diseases and this leads to many people not knowing they have the infection.
When symptoms of syphilis appear, they include chancres or sores that appear on the mouth, lips, penis, vagina, rectum, and anus. For primary syphilis, the sores mostly appear on the genitals and can also appear on the nipples, breasts, anus, tonsils, tongue, lips, and mouth. In most cases, the symptoms can be unnoticed or can be misdiagnose as the flu. Syphilis comes in three stages which are primary stage, secondary stages, and late or latent stage. The infection can become deadly if it is untreated in these stages.
Stages Of Syphilis
This is the first stage and comes with tiny sores that are not painful. These sores are referred to as chancres and will appear after 2 to 3 weeks after initial exposure. For this reason, people can have syphilis and not be aware. If the infection has lasted for a year or less, this is referred to as an early case. At this stage, the infection is highly infectious and is easily transmitted. Having syphilis can increase the chances of contracting HIV. There are cases of severe brain damage and loss of vision caused by syphilis reported in less than a year.
This stage lasts for a period of 1 and 3 months and starts anytime between 6 weeks and 6 months after initial infection. This stage comes with a flat rosy colored non-itchy rash that appears on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hand. The rash might appear in other parts of the body and appear like a rash caused by other ailments. Other signs include genital warts, flu-like symptoms, white patches in the mouth, hair loss, and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms of the secondary stage may disappear but the latent stages are more severe.
If the secondary stage is not treated, the symptoms will go away and the infection will go into a dormant stage that can last up to 20 years. The infection can still be detectable through blood tests but will not have any symptoms. At this stage, the infection can effectively be cured but the damages done to the internal organs are irreversible. If the infection goes through this latent stage without treatment, it gets to the tertiary stage.
Syphilis Tertiary Stage
This stage occurs between ten and thirty years after infection. This stage comes with new symptoms that are life-threatening. There are side effects such as loss of motor skills, central nervous system damage, blindness, damage of the kidneys, brain, eyes, heart, bones, and brain. In most cases, this stage is identified by mental illness that is followed by death.
The most common transmission method for syphilis is coming into contact with open sores of an infected person. This will mostly occur during sexual contact. It can also be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Transmission from an infected mother to an unborn child is also possible.
Where Can I Get Tested For Syphilis?
KnowMyStatus.life has over 4500 testing centers and you can get a syphilis test in any of them. Some of these locations are open on Saturdays for convenience purposes. You simply need to enter your location and you will get a list of testing centers near you. Make an order and the testing process will begin. Once the samples are delivered your test results will be emailed in 1-2 business days. If you need any help, contact us and our specialists will assist you through the process.
Is There A Syphilis Cure?
When caught early, syphilis is curable with antibiotics. A single penicillin dose is enough to cure syphilis in its early stages. The available treatment options target the bacterium and stop damage. However, it will not reverse damage that has already happened. This makes early treatment an important process. When on treatment, you should avoid sexual contact until the sores are healed and the treatment plan is done. If you have a sexual partner; the testing and treatment should be done together to avoid re-infection. Follow-up tests are recommended to check whether the bacterium has been completely eliminated.
What Happens If Syphilis Is Not Treated?
Syphilis has severe effects if untreated in the latent stage. It can damage the liver, bones, joins, heart, nerves, eyes, brain, and blood vessels. People with syphilis sores have a higher risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. It is possible for a pregnant mother to pass the syphilis infection to the unborn baby or miscarry.
How Do I Prevent Syphilis?
Abstinence is the best way to prevent syphilis. You can avoid infection by practicing safe sex by using dams and condoms. Tough condoms will reduce the risk of contracting syphilis; they might not completely protect you from this infection. This is because they will not cover some areas which might have syphilis sores. Being in a faithful monogamous relationship with a person you have been tested together reduces the risk of infection.
Syphilis During Pregnancy
Syphilis is dangerous to unborn babies and infants. The infection can lead to a still born or a miscarriage. It is possible for syphilis to move from the mother to the fetus through the placenta or during the child birth process. Infants that get infected are prematurely born and if not treated, the infection can lead to other serious issues with the teeth, bones, heart, skin, brain, ears, and eyes. The infection can be treated during pregnancy to reduce the spread to the fetus.
Know your status. Get a syphilis test today.