July 18th, 2017
The prevalence of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) is fairly high in the general population as many people avoid protected or safe sex. A lot of people may not know, but Syphilis is also a fairly prevalent sexually transmitted infection in US. It is caused by a spirochete bacterium called Treponema pallidum. The infection is classified into following 4 stages:
After the infection is acquired, the incubation period begins which lasts for 9 to 90 days followed by the onset of initial signs and symptoms of syphilis.
The first stage is the primary stage in which a sore (often referred to as chancre), appears on the infected area of the body. The primary sites of infection are mouth, rectum or genitals. The chancre is small, round and firm and has an appearance of a button. Other symptoms are swollen lymph nodes in the groin region. The sore begins healing rapidly and may disappear by the 4th or the 6th week. This however does not signify that the infection has gone for good as there may be no definite symptoms. In fact, this is when the infection begins spreading.
From primary stage, the untreated infection further progresses to the secondary stage. At this stage, the infection spreads throughout the body. The symptoms may include:
The rash is usually non-itchy and may have reddish-brown color. The lesions however may differ in appearance from scaly to non-scaly and from raised to flat. The presence of pustules is not always definite.
Other signs may include:
The signs and symptoms of this stage also disappear on their own within 3 to 36 weeks. However, the infection may persists.
The third stage is the latent stage. This stage begins when the symptoms of previous stage subsides. Latent stage may last from a few days to 50 years. The infected person may not experience any symptoms and after the span of 2 years, the symptoms are not contagious. Nevertheless, the infection still persists and may be detected by a blood test.
The final stage is the tertiary stage of syphilis. It occurs in 1/3rd of the infected people who remains untreated. In this stage, several organs become terminally affected. Given below are the most common signs and symptoms of the tertiary stage of syphilis:
When the infection affects the brain, it may lead to brain damage to it resulting in mental disability and the mental functioning is adversely affected. When syphilis affects the aorta in tertiary stage it may result in heart disease.
It is highly recommended to see a doctor at regular intervals especially if you are living a risky lifestyle; such as engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse, multiple sexual partners etc.
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