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Syphilis: Early Detection Leads to Effective Treatment

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A sexually transmitted disease that is caused by bacteria, Treponema Pallidum, is Syphilis. Genital area, mouth, lips or anus of both men and women are certain areas that are infected by the disease. Usually, the disease transmits when a person gets engaged sexually with the infected person. Sometimes, disease also passed on from mother to baby during pregnancy. As per the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases (NIAID) research report “Although, in the U.S., syphilis rates has been decreased by 90 percent from 1990 to 2000, within the time span of 6 years (2000-2006), number of cases have increased by 3777. In one year 2005-2006, syphilis rate has been increased by 12 percent.” Let’s explore some vital information about the disease.

Signs and Symptoms of syphilis

Signs and symptoms of Syphilis vary as per the different stages of the disease.

In primary stage, swollen lymph nodes and painless sores are observed as possible symptoms. Fever, joint pain, headache, decreased appetite, joint pain, etc are considered as most reported symptoms of the disease during secondary phase.

In the tertiary phase, people suffer from brain, heart and nervous systems’ problems.

Stages of Syphilis

Syphilis is a disease that progresses through 3 distinct stages. Sometimes, people experience all 3 stages, whereas, sometimes all stages are not evident.

Primary Syphilis

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In this stage, person may feel firm, red and wet sores on various body parts like rectum, vagina, penis or mouth. These sores do not hurt and known as chancre. It often happens that after a few weeks, these sores will disappear, but it does not imply that disease has gone away. Due to no pain and early disappearance of chancre, the disease is considered as highly contagious in the initial stage.

Secondary Syphilis

Normally, secondary phase will develop approximately 4-10 weeks after wet sores. Person will experience flu-like symptoms in the stage. Secondary stage lasts for 1-2 weeks. With or without treatment, secondary stage will also go away, but infection will continue to progress if left untreated.

Tertiary Syphilis- It is a final stage as presence of bacteria can be judged by the damages caused by it to the body or through a blood test.

Diagnosis of syphilis

Syphilis can be diagnosed by undertaking blood tests. The tests that help in diagnosing syphilis are mentioned below:

  • VDRL (Venereal disease research laboratory)
  • RPR (rapid plasma reagin)
  • FTA-ABS (fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption)

Treatments of syphilis

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Syphilis can be cured easily in the initial stages, but it does not imply that in later stages the disease cannot be cured.

Antibiotic like Penicillin is the best medication, prescribed by health professionals, for treating the disease. Depending upon the syphilis’s stage, dosage and method of taking antibiotic is determined.

Health professionals also recommend Doxycycline for those patients who are allergic to penicillin. With regular treatment and follow-up care, disease can be cured easily. However, it is advised to take follow-up blood tests after the time span of 3, 6, 12 and 24 months to ensure that infection has been cured completely.

Possible Complications of syphilis

If Syphilis remains untreated, then serious complications can occur that include:

  • Skin and bones damage
  • Blood vessel and heart problems, including aneurysms and inflammation
  • Neurosyphilis

Prevention of syphilis

It is advised to follow precautionary measures like practicing safe sex by making use of condoms, etc. Moreover, pregnant women and HIV patients, those who are at increased risk, are advised to undertake test of syphilis at regular intervals. Early detection of the disease results in undertaking necessary treatments at apposite times.   

Summary- Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, is caused by bacteria.  The disease occurs in three different stages. Blood tests are undertaken by professionals to diagnose the disease. The disease is easy to cure with Penicillin, an antibiotic. Usage of latex condom is recommended in order to reduce the risk of spreading Syphilis.

References:

1.http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001327.htm

2.http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/syphilis/

3.http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/stds/std_syphilis.html#

4.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syphilis

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 28, 2015