Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is spread through kissing, oral sex, and sexual intercourse. Syphilis can have very serious complications if left untreated, however it is simple to cure with the right treatment. It is divided into stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. Each stage has different signs and symptoms that are associated with them.
Primary stage: generally causes a sore or sores at original site of infection. They usually occur around the genitals, the anus, or in the rectum, or in and around the mouth. They are usually firm, round, and painless.
Secondary stage: generally causes skin rash, mucous membranes, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. other symptoms may include: sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue.
Latent stage: Has no signs or symptoms.
Tertiary stage: Associated with severe medical problems that can affect the brain, heart, and other organs of the body.
Pregnant women with syphilis can pass the infection to to their unborn baby. It can lead to a low birth weight, and can be the cause of delivering too early, or a stillbirth. A baby who has the infection can develop serious problems within a few weeks. Babies who go untreated can have health problems such as cataracts, deafness, seizures, or even death.
Without treatment, syphilis can spread to the brain and nervous system, or to rhe eye. This can occur during any stage of the infection. Symptoms of neurosyphilis include: severe headache, paralysis, numbness, difficulty coordinating muscle movements, and dementia. Ocular syphilis can cause changes in your vision and even blindness.
Syphilis is a curable STD with the right antibiotics. Having syphilis once does not protect you from contracting it again. You can always be re-infected. To ensure treatment was a success, follow ups with your medical care provider is recommended.
Test Results Ranges:
Positive: Indicates that you have a past or present infection.
Negative: Indicates that you do not have syphilis, or that you have not been infected with the STD in the last 3 months.
If you think that you have been exposed to syphilis and return a negative result, you should be tested again in 3 months.
If you return a positive test result, you should see your primary care physician.