Syphilis is a sexually-transmitted disease that is often dubbed as the “great imitator” because its symptoms are very similar to other types of diseases. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, almost 40,000 Americans were infected with syphilis in 2006. It also said that the infection is more common in men between the ages of 35 and 39, and women between the ages of 20 and 24.

Syphilis can be contracted by direct contact such as by having sex with an infected person. Whether you do it orally, anally, or vaginally, you are going to be infected with syphilis once you engage in sexual activities with someone who carries the disease.

Syphilis has three stages, and each stage has its own set of symptoms. Actually, syphilis tends to be left undiagnosed because it has the ability to infect a person without showing any visible symptoms. The syphilis symptoms only show up when the person is in the later stages of the disease.

First stage

During the first stage of syphilis, an infected person will show a symptom that looks like a small sore on the area where the syphilis infection entered his or her body. This sore is known as a chancre, and it appears after at least two weeks since the first exposure. In some cases, chancres do not appear until after three months, so it is really a challenge to get treated for syphilis if there are no signs that tell you that you have it.

Chancres are firm, round, and painless. They disappear after about a month. However, their disappearance does not mean that you are cured. Their disease is still there and it is progressing onto the next stage.

Second stage

During the second stage of syphilis, a patient will experience several symptoms that are similar to other diseases. Some of the most common are lesions, rashes all over the body, fever, muscle aches, sore throat, hair loss, headaches, blisters, fatigue, and swollen lymph glands. At this point, it is important that the patient get the necessary treatment for syphilis in order to avoid any other complications.

Third stage

If a person’s syphilis is left untreated, he or she will proceed to the third stage of syphilis, which is also known as latent syphilis. This stage can go on for several years. At this point, no symptoms can be seen. It is strongly advised that people get treatment when they reach this stage.

Last stage

This stage usually enters at least 10 years after first exposure to the infection. At this point, the brain, eyes, liver, bones, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and other internal organs will experience all sorts of damage. Testing for syphilis and treatment should be done immediately.