Caused by the bacteria called Treponema pallidum, Syphilis represents one of the many common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Like the other common STIs, Syphilis as well is being transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse – oral, vaginal, and anal, and any direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
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Read More: Signs and Symptoms of Syphilis
In 2016, there have been discovered over 88,000 cases of Syphilis in the United States alone. Further investigation has also shown that although the Syphilis rates among women have been declining, these very same rates have been increasing at the same time among men, especially men who are having unprotected sexual intercourse with other men.
Read More: Syphilis in Ghana
The common Syphilis symptoms
The Syphilis infection goes through four stages – primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary, with it being most infectious in the first and second stage. Let’s look into a bit more deeply in each of the four stages and the symptoms that are characteristic for them.
The primary stage begins within the first three to four weeks after the infection has been transmitted. The first symptom is a small, painless, yet highly infectious sore called chancre. The sore can occur anywhere on the body, such as on or inside the mouth, lips, genitalia, or the rectum. The present chancre heals itself within three to six weeks.
The secondary stage begins within a few weeks after the first chancre has healed itself. In this stage, a characteristic rash that covers the whole body, including the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, develops. In most cases, the rash is painless and may be accompanied by wartlike sores in the mouth or the genitalia. In this stage, other symptoms such as hair loss, muscle aches, fever, weight loss, and a sore throat may develop as well. It is characteristic for these symptoms to come and go away within a few weeks, for as long as one year.
If you have not received proper treatment in the first two stages of the infection, the infection will go into a latent stage. This is a stage in which the symptoms are hidden; however, the bacteria remain in the body. That way, the bacteria can be present in the body for a few years, before it progresses to the last stage – tertiary syphilis.
It has been suggested that 15-30% of the patients enter the tertiary stage because they have failed to receive proper treatment before. This stage poses the biggest threats to a person’s health, causing health issues such as:
- Mental illnesses;
- Stroke and meningitis;
- An infection to the brain and/or spinal cord;
- Heart disease;
- Memory loss, etc.
Knowing how easily treatable Syphilis is, thanks to the existence of Penicillin, no patient should risk his life, leaving this infection untreated. Although the symptoms might not sound scary enough, the complications of leaving Syphilis untreated sure do. If you notice any of the previously mentioned symptoms, do not hesitate to ask for help and save your life.
Read More: Syphilis Treatment