What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is spread through direct contact with a person with this sore. It is a bacterial infection of T Pallidum and usually, the infected person does not know that they have the disease and passes it on to the partner. The syphilitic sores can be seen on the mucous membranes or on the skin and do not pass through kissing. There are 4 stages:
Early diagnosis and treatment by a primary care physician or any healthcare provider can cure this disease. The tertiary stage can lead to various types of syphilis without treatment, it can even lead to death.
Symptoms of syphilis as per stages:
- It usually starts with a small sore.
- These sores are visible on the genitals, rectum, or inside the mouth.
- Sores are painless but highly infectious
- Sore throat
- Skin rashes on the palm and soles which does not itch.
- Fever and fatigue
- Lymph nodes are swollen
- Joints pain
- Unexpected weight loss
- Hair loss
There are no noticeable symptoms in this stage as all signs of this disease disappear in this hidden stage. But the bacteria are still active in the body and progress to tertiary syphilis.
It is a life-threatening stage and has symptoms like:
- Memory loss and mental health problems
- Heart disease
- Infection of the brain or spinal cord called neurosyphilis.
Who is at Risk?
Syphilis risk factors are:
- People who have multiple sexual partners
- People who participate in prostitution
- People who have HIV infection
- People who have had previous cases of sexually transmitted infections, STI.
- People who have STI
- Use of illicit drugs
- Healthcare providers who are predisposed
- People who use intravenous drugs
- People who are in a sexual relationship with a person having syphilis or diagnosed with this disease.
- People who have undergone transfusions without the donor being tested for this contagious disease.
One of the major reasons for contracting this disease is through sexual contact. It is caused due to a bacterial infection of Treponema pallidum. In the initial stages, only a painless ulcer is caused on the body part that has come in contact with the infected person. Since most of the ulcers happen in the hidden areas and are painless it is not easily detectable. So people transmit this disease even without knowing they have an STD.
Congenital syphilis happens in children when a pregnant woman with syphilis infects the baby. The baby has many health issues if passed on like this and can even result in the death of the baby.
How Is Syphilis Diagnosed?
If you fall under the risk category mentioned above or have symptoms as above, then you should go to a doctor for syphilis diagnosis immediately. Some of the diagnosis are:
- Physical examination: The doctor will investigate your medical history and also do a thorough physical examination to check for the presence of sores.
- Blood tests: Common syphilis test is conducting a blood test to check for infections and the presence of antibodies for the bacteria.
- Fluid sample: A sample of the sore is taken if the disease is in the initial stage.
- Cerebrospinal fluid A spinal tap is done to collect fluid from the spine to check the effect of this on the nervous system.
- A pregnant woman also undergoes a syphilis test to prevent infection of the fetus.
How Is Syphilis Treated?
- Syphilis treatment for the primary stage is taking antibiotics. Only one dose of medicine for syphilis in the form of antibiotics is enough to cure this disease.
- The same treatment is provided for secondary and latent syphilis but they may suffer a reaction that clears up in a day. The antibiotic prevents the spread of infection in a day and syphilis cure is complete in a week or two.
- For tertiary syphilis, the treatment is done for a longer duration and prevents damage. Any damage already done to the organs cannot be treated.
It is advised to get treated to prevent further complications. Contact our syphilis doctor at Cure.fit to get a proper cure and prevent any damage to the organs. They are available through video consultations too!
How can Syphilis be Prevented?
The best way for the prevention of syphilis is by following safe sexual practices. Some of the other ways to protect yourself and others from this disease are:
- Using a dental dam which is a piece of latex
- Getting screened for STIs and STDs if you or your partner has had multiple partners.
- Avoid sharing needles if you are using IV drugs
- Ensuring that the donor blood is tested for syphilis if you are undergoing transfusion.
- Pregnant women should undergo a syphilis test to prevent it from infecting the child.