Stages, Symptoms, Complications
So what is syphilis?
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that develops in four different stages. Symptoms and severity will vary depending on which stage you are in.
There are four stages:
It’s important to note that the symptoms don’t always occur in the same order, and they may possibly overlap throughout the stages. Syphilis is complicated, so being aware of these stages of infection is very important to understanding and taking control your health.
Syphilis can also lay dormant for years without showing any signs of symptoms. However, syphilis will not resolve itself if left untreated. This is why you need to be getting tested regularly for all STDs and STIs, especially syphilis.
Let’s outline the four stages of syphilis and the symptoms that come with them.
· The primary stage typically starts with a single sore. These sores are called chancres.
· Multiple chancre sores are very common.
· The chancres appear at the spot where syphilis has entered the body. They are typically small, firm, round, and painless.
· Typically, the sores will last 3-6 weeks without treatment.
· If syphilis is not caught in the primary stage and treated medically it will progress to the secondary stage.
· The average time between the initial infection and the start of the first symptoms can range from 10-90 days.
· An infected person can infect others during the primary stage.
· Typically, the second stage begins with a skin rash and mucous lesions. Mucous lesions can include sores in mouth, nose, eye, vagina, penis, or anus.)
· Rashes can appear in a few different ways such as rough, red, or reddish brown spots on the hands of the bottoms of the feet.
· Rashes may appear on different parts of the body as well.
· Some rashes associated with the second stage can appear as the chancre is healing or many weeks after the sore has healed.
· Because the bacteria are active in these sores any physical contact (sexual or non-sexual) may spread during this stage.
Other symptoms of the second stage include:
· swollen lymph nodes
· patchy hair loss
· sore throat
· weight loss
· muscle aches
The latent syphilis stage does not present any symptoms. During this stage, the infection can only be detected by using a blood test. If not treated this stage can continue for life. Although many people who suffer from latent syphilis never experience serious problems, some cases can develop into late syphilis, also called the tertiary stage.
This stage happens when a person does not receive medical treatment. The tertiary stage is rare, but it can be very serious. During this stage, symptoms may be gone even though the infection still remains in the body.
Internally syphilis will begin to damage the organs:
· blood vessels
Once organ damage begins, syphilis becomes far more dangerous. From this point on, syphilis may lead to death.
Signs and symptoms of the late stage:
· difficulty coordinating muscle movements
· gradual blindness
If syphilis is caught and treated in the late stage it can be cured. However, the damage that is done to the body is permanent. If left untreated 3-7% of infected people can develop neurosyphilis.
If syphilis is left untreated there are more health risks that can happen.
Neurosyphilis is an infection of the central nervous system. This is what happens with syphilis affects the neurological system including the brain and spinal cord. Having both syphilis and HIV will raise the risk of developing neurosyphilis. Symptoms of neurosyphilis can include:
· uncoordinated movement
· inability to speak or understand a language
· partial paralysis
· personality changes
Congenital Syphilis/Syphilis Nose
If pregnant, it is possible to transmit syphilis during childbirth or through the placenta. This can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of the child within a few days following birth. Luckily, penicillin can be used to treat syphilis during pregnancy.
The best precaution to take for your sexual health is to be tested regularly. myLAB Box™ offers a variety of at home STD testing kits including a test specifically for syphilis. Syphilis is one of the most common STDs and it is important to catch and treat in the early stages.
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