The sexually-transmitted disease known as syphilis is caused by a bacterium called treponema pallidum. It is dubbed as an imitator or copycat because its symptoms tend to be very similar to the symptoms of other STDs. It can affect both males and females, young and old.
Diagnosing syphilis can be very difficult because of its symptoms similarity to other diseases’. A patient should take a test for syphilis once he or she sees the first few symptoms so that treatment can be applied before the infection spreads.
In order to understand why, how, where, and when to undergo a test for syphilis, let us take a look at the disease more closely and be familiar with its characteristics.
There are four stages of syphilis infection. An infected person might not exhibit some symptoms at the very early stage and will tend to ignore and forget about it in a few days. He or she will only be reminded about the bacteria once again when the more severe symptoms show up.
The first stage of syphilis occurs at least two weeks after an individual contracts the disease. It usually lasts up to three months. At this stage, a patient will develop skin sores called chancres. Chancres can grow on any part of the body, but they are more common in the nether regions such as the scrotum, anus, penis, vagina, and even the mouth. They are not painful and will disappear in about a couple of weeks. This does not mean that you are cured from syphilis. The bacteria are still there and you should do something about them as soon as possible. If not treated, the infection will move on to the second stage.
The second stage is known to be the time when syphilis is the most contagious. It is when the infection starts to spread all over the body. The symptoms include fever, skin rashes, hair loss, weight loss, swelling of the lymph nodes, headaches, appetite loss, and muscle and joint pains. If not treated, the infection will move on to the latent stage.
The latent stage does not really have any visible symptoms. For you to determine if you still have the infection, you have to undergo a blood test for syphilis. Immediate treatment should also be done so that progressing to the final and fatal stage will be avoided.
Finding yourself at the tertiary stage of syphilis is probably one of the worst things that can happen to you. At this point, a patient is destined to carry the disease for at least two more years up to twenty years. The bacteria will become unstoppable. It will attack and damage more organs and systems in the body. It will infect the nervous tissues, heart, skin, arteries, liver, and bones. As a result of these, a patient will have a big chance of suffering from paralysis, mental problems, blindness, heart failure, deafness, and death.