It’s time to take a syphilis test. Believe it or not, syphilis is still a serious threat. It’s true. According to the CDC, there were roughly 88,000 new cases of syphilis (all stages) in 2016.
More often than not, many infected men and women may not realize their status for years. Without proper treatment, syphilis could cause serious physical damage. For maximum peace of mind, everybody should take a syphilis test.
How Can You Contract Syphilis?
It seems that syphilis has been with us throughout the ages. The part that makes the infection so worrisome is the fact that any sexually active person can contract this STD. In fact, it is believed to have been the downfall of several major historical figures, including Al Capone and the Roman emperor Caligula.
The infection is transferred between partners through direct contact with a syphilitic sore. Using condoms can reduce the risk of infection, but this would require that the condom covers all of the sores. Know that you can’t contract syphilis by sharing a toilet with someone who has it, nor can you get it from hugging an infected person or eating from their fork. With that being said, it is good to know the different stages of syphilis.
A syphilis infection typically consists of four stages:
Now let’s break down the symptoms of syphilis across these stages of infection:
This first stage usually occurs within 10 to 90 days after initial infection. Often, an infected person may notice a small, round sore on their body. This is known as a chancre and it typically appears within the rectal area, the genitals, or even inside the mouth. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t typically check these places too closely. As a result, few people become aware enough to take a syphilis test.
The next stage produces a sore throat and rashes. This syphilitic rash usually shows up on the soles of your feet and/or the palms of your hands. These are only the most typical places to notice the rash. It can appear elsewhere on your body as well. Other symptoms that are characteristic of secondary syphilis include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Fever and fatigue
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Muscle aches
These symptoms may last from a weeks to 12 months without treatment. If this stage continues without treatment, the syphilis infection will enter the latent stage. Taking a syphilis test can help you catch this infection early making treatment both easier and more effective.
This third stage of syphilis is often referred to as the “hidden stage.” When you’ve progressed to this level, you won’t actually notice any detectable signs. Keep in mind, the bacteria remains in your body and can last for years before it progresses to tertiary syphilis.
This is the final stage of syphilis. If it gets to this point, the infection can attack your brain, blood vessels, and nervous system.
Of these four stages, the first two are the most infectious and can most easily be transmitted through sexual contact. However, as syphilis progresses, it becomes more and more dangerous. The final stage can show even 10-30 years after initial infection. At any stage, syphilis can lead to other complications such as nerve damage, paralysis, and dementia. No one wants that to happen. To be safe, a syphilis test can help you learn your status.
Why Should I Use a Home Syphilis Test?
Don’t wait to take a syphilis test if you think you were exposed. For maximum convenience, myLAB Box offers a syphilis test kit you can take from the comfort of your own home. It’s easy to use. Once your test kit arrives in the mail, you can collect your test sample in just about five minutes. Then, simply mail your small blood sample to our labs.
The lab will run the test and provide you with an answer quickly and conveniently without your ever having to leave home. If your syphilis test is negative, no further testing is required. If your test is positive, a confirmation test, such as RPR, is required and these confirmation tests cannot be performed on dried blood spot specimens. As a result, if a confirmation test is required, our physician affiliate will help refer you to a testing laboratory, clinic, or other facility that can perform such a test on a specimen drawn from a vein (usually in your arm).
Regardless if your result is positive or negative, , you can use our free telemedicine feature by speaking with a physician affiliate about your results over the phone. Syphilis is curable and treated with the right antibiotics. But first it needs to be diagnosed with a syphilis test.
However, the longer you wait, the more damage your body may suffer from the syphilis infection. Test early and test often. But most importantly, don’t stress, just test!
Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA
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