Syphilis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that spreads commonly via anal and oral sex. Most of the time, the person affected by the infection is unaware of it; therefore, it passes on to the partner during sexual intercourse.
In the year 2020, WHO revealed that nearly 7 million people were impacted with new syphilis disease; this means that a significant population across the world has been affected by this bacterial infection.
The Syphilis symptoms vary with the respective syphilis stage. The prominent syphilis symptoms in different stages of the infection are as follows:
This stage occurs from the time of two weeks to twelve weeks after exposure to the bacteria for the first time. In this stage, a chancre develops in the mouth or the respective individual’s genitals. The chancre is a smooth and red-coloured sore that is usually painless.
In this stage, a bumpy and rough rash appears on the palms and soles of the feet. This usually occurs one to six months after the sore goes away.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, aching joints, hair, and weight loss.
Syphilis in a patient reaches the latent stage if the first two stages are not treated successfully. This stage does not show any major symptoms, but patients experience damage to bones, nerves, and the heart.
The latent stage can last for several years in the respective patient.
This stage leads to several major problems, including brain damage, dementia, heart diseases, nerve damage, seizures, tumours, and vision problems.
Another commonly occurring syphilis is congenital Syphilis. This spreads from the affected pregnant woman to the fetus.
The newborn is affected by the bacteria and shows similar symptoms to adults.
The bacteria that cause Syphilis is Treponema pallidum. The most common syphilis causes include the following:
- Direct contact through sexual activity (oral or anal sex)
- The bacteria can sometimes pass through cuts on your skin or mucous membranes.
- Pregnant women with Syphilis have a high chance of spreading this infection to their newborns.
Syphilis does not spread through toilet sharing or wearing another person’s clothes and utensils. Therefore, it is important to not believe in any myths related to the infection and consult experienced doctors before it impacts significant parts of the body.
Some of the most common risk factors associated with Syphilis include the following:
- Unprotected sex
- Multiple sex partners
- Presence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Same gender sex between male individuals
These risk factors must be kept in mind as most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread because of them. Therefore, adult individuals must be aware of different aspects of syphilis disease.
The rising number of syphilis cases makes it important for people to undergo syphilis tests for timely syphilis diagnosis.
Ways to diagnose it are as follows:
- Blood tests: This is the most common syphilis test that helps diagnose Syphilis.
- Cerebrospinal fluid tests: This test focuses on the spinal cord in case the doctor wants to confirm the presence of neurosyphilis.
- Darkfield microscopy: The bacteria present in the lymph node or skin sore is visible through a microscope.
Based on the syphilis symptoms, the medical expert recommends the required diagnostic test for the respective patient.
If Syphilis is diagnosed early, it is easier to treat the infection. At this stage, the treatment is performed with antibiotics such as penicillin. If the patient is sensitive to penicillin, then another antibiotic is recommended. If required, a desensitization process is performed in the patient so that they can take syphilis treatment in the form of penicillin injections.
Pregnant women with Syphilis must receive syphilis treatment with the recommended dosages of penicillin. The newborn must also be checked for Syphilis. If affected, then the baby must be treated immediately with antibiotics.
Unlike other infections, there are high chances of reoccurrence of syphilis infection. Therefore, even after successful treatment of Syphilis, the respective patient can acquire Syphilis in the upcoming years.
The impact of syphilis bacteria can be prevented in the following recommended ways:
- Avoid having intimate contact with an individual, especially if they are infected with Syphilis
- Condom usage during sexual intercourse significantly reduces the possible spread of bacteria
- Couples can also use dental dams during oral sex
- Undergo routine screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- Avoid using sharing during medical or routine use of needles
Therefore, Syphilis is a treatable infection that must be diagnosed in its early stages. Patients must make timely decisions to consult medical experts specializing in these sexually transmitted infections to ensure proper treatment and speedy recovery.
In case of any queries, book an appointment with Dr Renu Mathur at the CK Birla Hospital and receive quality treatment from the top medical experts. The experts offer patients with gynaecology treatments with preventive healthcare solutions that aim to treat Syphilis successfully.