Syphilis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
What Is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a form of a bacterial infection which an individual usually contracts by sexual activity. In the beginning stages of the disease, the affected individual may experience just a sore in the genital areas or mouth. Syphilis is contagious and spreads when the skin or the mucous membrane comes in contact with the infected sores. Once an individual gets the bacteria, it may stay in the body without showing any activity for many years before becoming active. Syphilis is perfectly treatable if diagnosed and treated early enough with just penicillin, but if this disease is left untreated it may significantly damage the heart, brain or other vital organs of the body. In the United States, studies show that Syphilis has been on the rise in males, especially homosexuals, compared to females where it has shown a decline. Due to these sores caused by Syphilis, an individual may easily get infected with HIV/AIDS.
What Are The Causes Of Syphilis?
Syphilis is caused due to a bacterium called Treponema Pallidum, which can be transmitted from an individual to other usually by sexual contact. This bacterium can infiltrate the body system through small cuts or abrasions as well as through mucous membranes. This disease is highly contagious during the primary and secondary stages. In rare cases, Syphilis has known to spread through activities like kissing. It is important to note that this disease does not spread by using the same toilet, clothing, utensils etc. Once Syphilis is completely cured it does not tend to reoccur.
What Are The Symptoms Of Syphilis?
The development of Syphilis takes place in various stages with symptoms being different for different stages. In some cases, an individual infected with Syphilis may not even observe any symptoms for a prolonged period of time.
Primary Syphilis Symptoms: In this stage, the very first sign of an infection is a small sore in the genital area. This sore is located at the place where the bacteria infiltrated the body. Usually, there is only one sore seen but in some cases there may be several of them. This sore is observed generally a few weeks after contacting the disease. This sore usually heals on its own within a month.
Secondary Syphilis Symptoms: Once the initial sore heals up then there may be development of a rash which may be observed in the trunk initially but then gradually spreads throughout the body. Some individuals may also experience muscle pain, fever, lymph node swelling. These above symptoms may go on their own only to return back again and this cycle may continue as long as for about a year.
How Is Syphilis Diagnosed?
The following tests are done in order to confirmatively diagnose Syphilis:
Blood Tests: This test can confirm the presence of antibodies for Syphilis and can also confirm if there is an infection or not.
Sore Analysis: This test is done in the primary or secondary stage of Syphilis in which the physician will analyze a part of the sore under the microscope to look for bacteria causing Syphilis.
Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis: In case if a nervous system disorder is suspected due to Syphilis, then the physician may also check the cerebrospinal fluid to look for infection.
What Are Treatments For Syphilis?
As stated, Syphilis is perfectly treatable if diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Penicillin is the drug of choice for treatment of Syphilis. In case if an individual is allergic to penicillin, then another antibiotic might be given for treating Syphilis. Usually, a single dose of penicillin is enough for stopping the disease from progressing but if an individual has Syphilis for more than a year then additional doses may be required.
In cases of females who are pregnant and diagnosed with Syphilis then penicillin is the only treatment suggested and in case if the female is allergic to it then she may have to undergo desensitization in order for them to be able to take the medication. Also, the newborn child should also be treated for Syphilis with antibiotics in case the mother has been diagnosed with the disease.