Essential Information About Syphilis
Syphilis is a chronic systemic infectious disease, transmitted, as a rule, by sexual intercourse, also it can be transmitted from mother to child during the birth process. As a rule, the first signs of syphilis appear several weeks after the actual infection, which makes the disease even more dangerous.
Syphilis is characterized by a slow progressive course. In the first stage infection causes genital sores that may be painful. In later stages, it can lead to severe lesions of the nervous system and internal organs.
How Can You Be Infected by Syphilis?
In most cases, syphilis infection occurs during sexual intercourse in the vagina, mouth or rectum. The most infectious are people with primary syphilis (with ulcers on the genitals, mouth or in the rectum). In addition, it is possible to transmit infection from a sick mother to her baby during pregnancy, also you should be very careful during blood transfusion, making a tattoo or doing piercing.
It is extremely rare when people get syphilis at home through clothes or appliances. Most cases that are associated with domestic infection are in fact unproven cases of sexual infection. This is due to the fact that pale treponema (Treponema pallidum – virus that causes syphilis) quickly dies outside the human body.
What Are the Typical Symptoms of Syphilis?
As syphilis has several stages, we’ll subdivide symptoms according to them.
At the moment of primary period the following symptoms are concerned:
- More than 1 sore at the skin of infected person, they can be found in mouth, rectum or genitals.
- These sores may be painful.
By the end of the primary period the following symptoms are concerned:
- General malaise of pain in muscles and bones.
- Fever heat.
- Hemoglobin decrease (anemia).
- Increase the amount of leukocytes in the blood.
Note: Possible primary syphilis complications occur when there is an extra infection in the area of a solid chancre or because of the decrease in the protective forces of the body.
These complications are: inflammation of the vagina and vulva, constriction and even gangrene, which extends into the depth and breadth of a solid chancre – it can lead even to the rejection of the whole organ or its part.
Secondary syphilis begins to develop 3 months after infection.
It’s symptoms are:
- Symmetrical pale rash all over the body, including palms and soles.
- Rash is often accompanied by headache, malaise, fever (flu-like-symptoms).
- Lymph nodes enlarge all over the body.
- Secondary syphilis occurs in the form of alternation of exacerbations and remissions with the possible loss of hair on the head.
- Flesh-colored growths on the genitals and around the anus (wide condylomas) may also occur.
Tertiary syphilis occurs in the absence of treatment for many years after infection. This affects the nervous system (including brain and spinal cord), bones and internal organs (including the heart, liver, etc.).
Syphilis Testing and Treatment
There are many blood tests that can detect syphilis, but basically they are divided into two groups: non-treponemal and treponemal. For a mass examination so-called non-treponemal qualitative Wassermann reaction (RW) with a cardiolipin antigen is used. If the result of this analysis is positive – confirmation by treponemal studies (RW with treponemal antigen) is required. Results of the second test remain positive for life. To evaluate the effectiveness of treatment, Wasserman’s quantitative reaction with treponemal antigen is used.
Treatment of syphilis should be comprehensive and very individual. The basis for it is antibiotics. In some cases additional treatment like immunotherapy, restorative drugs, physiotherapy and so on can be prescribed. Keep in mind, that syphilis is treated for a fairly long time. If it is detected at the primary stage, continuous treatment is given within 2-3 months, with the development of secondary syphilis therapy can last more than 2 years. During the treatment period, any sexual intercourse is prohibited and all members of the family and sexual partners should follow preventive treatment.
What if Syphilis Is Not Treated?
If you read this article careful, you already should understand that consequences of untreated syphilis are very serious. Your brain and nervous system may be damaged which can cause mental deterioration and loss of vision and sensation. Also there is a risk of multiple heart diseases. In case of infected pregnancy serious birth defects like blindness are possible.
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