What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually-transmitted disease that is caused by the bacteria known as Treponema pallidum. It is often referred to as “the great imitator” because its symptoms are very similar to those of other illnesses and diseases. More than 30,000 cases of syphilis have been reported in the United States last year, and it is believed that the actual number of syphilis patients is much more than that. A lot of syphilis cases are left undiagnosed and untreated because of lack of awareness, information, and other factors.

How can you get syphilis?

There are several ways to get infected with syphilis. One, a person who engages in sexual activity with a syphilis-infected person will get the disease as well. Two, exposure to open wounds and lesions of syphilis patients are a sure way of getting infected with the bacteria as well. Three, pregnant women who have syphilis can transmit the disease to their unborn.

What are the symptoms of syphilis?

The symptoms of syphilis vary depending on which stage of the disease you are currently in. Here are the most common symptoms of syphilis per stage:

Primary stage of syphilis

The primary stage of syphilis happens after at least two weeks of being exposed to the bacteria. It is characterized by a red, painless sore known as a chancre. A chancre will first appear on the spot where the infection first occurred. So if you had sex with a syphilis-infected person, you will get the chancre on your genital area. One other symptom that may manifest is the swelling of the lymph nodes.

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Secondary stage of syphilis

The secondary stage of syphilis happens several weeks after the first appearance of the chancre. At this stage, the syphilis bacteria have already entered the body and have found its way on to the bloodstream. Because of this, the patient will experience more symptoms that include rashes, headaches, appetite loss, weight loss, and fever.

Tertiary stage of syphilis

The tertiary stage of syphilis, also known as late benign syphilis, is the final stage of syphilis where very serious complications arise. Many internal organs of a patient will suffer and experience damage. Skin, bones, and other body tissues will develop something called granulomas or gummas. The blood vessels, heart, and brain will become severely affected, resulting in conditions known as cardiovascular syphilis and neurosyphilis.

Syphilis test and treatment

It is important to get tested for syphilis as soon as the first symptoms show. Syphilis testing will help you get treatment fast before the disease takes over your whole body and ruin your health.