LiveMD wants you to know the signs and symptoms of Syphilis so you can properly protect yourself from contracting this contagious STD.
What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a very highly contagious, sexually transmitted disease. It can be contracted through any form of sexual contact and often the person infected is unaware that they have this disease. The prevalence of Syphilis was extremely high before the discovery of penicillin in the 1940’s but since then it has been declining although recent years has shown an increase in infection rates. There are 3 main stages of progression with this infection and if caught early enough it is easily treatable. Usually a single dose of penicillin is all that is needed. If the disease is left to progress it can become more difficult to treat and may cause irreversible brain damage or serious permanent conditions, even death.
What are the Symptoms of Syphilis?
There are 3 main stages that a Syphilis infection will progress through if not treated:
- Small, painless sores will develop on or around the genital and mouth area. These sores will usually appear a few weeks after the initial infection occurs and will disappear, on their own without treatment.
- As the infection progresses, a rash will begin to develop on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Rashes may also appear on other areas of the body as well. People who are affected by this stage of the infection may also suffer from fever, swollen glands, weight loss, white patches on the inside of their mouth and warts or lesions on and around their groin area. The symptoms of this stage of infection will also resolve on their own without treatment.
- If a syphilis infection is left to progress to this stage without treatment the complications can be quite serious. Problems such as loss of vision or loss of hearing may occur or the patient may experience nerve problems, paralysis, heart failure, dementia or problems affecting the brain. Untreated syphilis that is left to progress to this stage may even result in death.
How Can I Protect Myself?
The best way to protect yourself from contracting syphilis is to alway protect yourself during sex by wearing a condom, knowing your sexual partner and their history and abstaining from sex if you know that someone is infected. Syphilis can also be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby and this could lead to a miscarriage or could result in serious complication with the health of the child once it is born.
If you suspect that you have been infected with syphilis, getting treatment early on is important. A simple blood test by the doctor will confirm the diagnosis and a course of penicillin based antibiotics will cure the infection and stop the progression of the disease.
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