Syphilis, a bacterial infection spreads via sexual contact, is most commonly caused by genital infections. Syphilis initiates as a painless sore, usually on the genitals, mouth or rectum. However, it can spread from one person to another person through skin or mucous membrane contact. In the absence of treatment, syphilis causes fatalities or health issues such as mental health problems, blindness, and harm to the heart, brain, eyes, brain, and nervous system.
As per WHO, syphilis is a very common infection in men who have had sex with other men (MSM) around the world. Out of 25 countries that reported active syphilis, 11 countries had a rate of 5% or higher and seven countries had a rate of 10% or greater.
Further, WHO also states that syphilis is the second most common cause of stillbirth worldwide. It can also lead to prematurity and low birthweight. Pregnant women can prevent this adverse effects by a quick and easy test that is inexpensive, followed by syphilis treatment.
Syphilis causes a small, innocuous sore and is the initial syphilis sign. One can find it within the mouth, or over the sexual organs. The sore is known as a chancre. Many people don’t notice it immediately, or even at all.
It is difficult to diagnose syphilis. However, it is possible to have it for years and not show any symptoms. Also, the better you detect syphilis and syphilis causes, the better to get treatment as soon as possible.
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Syphilis is a progressive infection and has four stages. Syphilis causes various symptoms at each stage. Further, people in the first and second stages of syphilis are highly contagious. Moreover, they can easily transmit the infection to their partners. These are the stages of syphilis:
The first stage takes place between 2 and 12 weeks after encountering the bacteria. So, a smooth, reddish sore chancre forms on the genitals. Moreover, it usually disappears after a few months or weeks. It is often small and rarely painful, so you may not even be aware it is there.
An unpleasant, bumpy syphilis-like rash will appear on the body about six to eight months after the chancre disappears. It usually appears on your soles (feet, bottoms) and palms. Other flu-like symptoms include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. These symptoms may last for months or years.
If the infection doesn’t get medical attention in the first 2 stages, it will progress into the latent phase. While there are no obvious signs or symptoms, latent syphilis causes serious damage to your bones, heart, and other organs. However, this stage can be long-lasting for years.
Many people don’t feel any symptoms beyond the latent stage. This is because the infection heals or because they aren’t too obvious. About a third of individuals progress to the late stage of syphilis. Moreover, at this stage, Syphilis is a serious health concern. These issues are slow-growing and include:
Syphilis causes by the bacteria Treponema pallidum.
Infected people spread the bacteria via vaginal, oral, or anal sex. The bacteria can infect the body via the anus and vagina, penis, mouth, or broken skin. Syphilis can be contagious. Individuals in the first and second phases of syphilis are exceptionally infectious and sometimes even during the early latent periods. Moreover, syphilis can transmit to your sexual partner if you are sexually involved.
Further, you can pass syphilis to your unborn child if you are pregnant.
However, syphilis can’t transmit by touching objects such as toilet seats, doorknobs, cookware, etc.
Syphilis does not return once treated. However, if you contact a syphilis sore, you could become reinfected.
Also, some other causes for syphilis or risk factors are:
Syphilis causes severe damage to your body if left untreated. Syphilis can also increase the chance of getting HIV and lead to pregnancy complications. While treatment can prevent future damage, it cannot reverse or repair the damage that has already been done.
Syphilis can develop in stages, and the symptoms may vary from one stage to another. The symptoms may not always appear in the same order, and the stages can overlap. Syphilis can be a silent disease. Moreover, syphilis causes no symptoms but may persist for many years.
A small sore, “chancre,” is the initial indication of syphilis. The spot where bacteria enter your body will show the sore. Although most people with syphilis have one chancre, some develop multiple.
The chancre develops approximately three weeks after being exposed. People living with syphilis rarely feel the chancre. It’s usually not painful and remains hidden within the vaginal or rectum. Within three to six weeks, the chancre should heal itself.
After the first chancre healing process, you could encounter a rash on your trunk that, in the long run, covers your whole body.
Itching is rare, but it may cause a rash that’s not itchy. Other symptoms include hair loss, muscle aches, and fever. These side effects can vanish in half a month, or they might return for up to one year.
Syphilis can progress from the second stage to the latent stage if you don’t undergo treatment. The syphilis disease could progress to the third stage (tertiary), where symptoms and signs may not return.
If a person with syphilis doesn’t receive treatment at the earlier stages, syphilis causes worse conditions. Passing the latent stage, if a person enters the tertiary stage, they might suffer the more serious and life-threatening condition. The disease can irreversibly damage the brain, nerves, and eyes in the later stages. These issues may develop years later than the original, untreated infection.
Syphilis can develop at whatever stage in life and cause serious harm to the sensory system, brain, and eye.
Congenital syphilis is a rare condition in which most newborns experience no symptoms. However, some may feel itchy on their palms or feet.
Deafness, tooth deformities, and saddle nose are possible later signs and symptoms. The saddle nose is where the bridge of your nose collapses.
Moreover, syphilis causes premature births, leading to death in the womb or after birth.
You must be straightforward with your medical caregiver during this conversation. Your supplier will want to survey your risk and may suggest testing for other Sexually transmitted diseases.
Syphilis diagnosis test includes:
Healthcare providers often prescribe penicillin for the treatment of syphilis. Even if the rash or chancre disappears, you must continue with the whole course of antibiotics. It is important to notify anyone who has had sex in the past two years that they must also do a diagnostic test.
Your doctor might recommend another antibiotic or penicillin desensitization if you show an allergic reaction to penicillin.
Single penicillin injection would be the best treatment for syphilis if any infection occurred within the past year. You may require additional penicillin if you have had syphilis causes longer than one year.
For pregnant women having syphilis, penicillin is the best treatment. Even if you receive treatment for syphilis caused in pregnancy, your baby must undergo testing for congenital syphilis. If the child has syphilis, they will undergo antibiotic treatment.
After completing a course in syphilis treatment, your healthcare provider can ask you for a blood test to check the syphilis presence. Syphilis can return even after treatment. If you are at high risk for syphilis causes, make sure you get checked regularly and practice safe sex.
You should avoid having sexual contact while receiving treatment until your body heals and your doctor permits you to resume sex. Your partner should also undergo treatment if you are sexually active.
Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions (JHR) are short-term side effects of the treatment of syphilis. Within 24 hours, JHR symptoms may occur in a few individuals with primary or secondary syphilis.
The immune system reacts to JHR. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Symptoms of JHR usually disappear within a few hours.
Following the treatment for syphilis causes, note the following tips:
For the prevention of syphilis causes, there is no immunization. These are some suggestions to help stop the spread of syphilis.
Treatment for syphilis causes is possible. Treat syphilis early so that it doesn’t cause other chronic health issues. Moreover, have an honest conversation with the doctor about your sexual history. They will help you to assess your risk and take preventative measures.
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reference – Who Data on syphilis