Most people who have contracted syphilis will be aware of it as there will be sores present. It is passed from one person to another when there is contact made with these sores. The main way the transmission occurs is through sexual contact. It can also be picked up by kissing. Syphilis is a particularly horrible STD as it can also be passed to a child if the mother is infected while she is pregnant.
How common is this disease?
As it is estimated, there are more than 12 million cases each year. As a result there are more cases being caught early and treated. The UK has not avoided cases of syphilis although in comparison to many countries it is not as prolific. The good news is that syphilis can be treated successfully as long as it is detected at an early stage. All that is needed are antibiotics and it is for this reason that an STD test should be taken. Failure to identify and treat syphilis can cause serious health issues. These include the following:paralysis, stroke or blindness. It could cause death as well.There are four recognized stages when syphilis is developing and the longer it is left the harder it will be to treat.
Primary stage – A sore will appear and this will normally be around the genitals. It will be invisible and during this time the sufferer will be contagious. They will however not be aware of their status and may spread it to a number of people. This stage will take between three weeks and three months for it to become clear that there is a problem. For men the sore will appear on the penis and for women it will be around the vagina. Sometimes the sores develop in the reproductive organs rather than on the outside where they can be detected. It takes about 3 to 6 weeks for the sores to heal but the infection is still there and can still be passed on.
Stage 2 – The rash is now visible and spreads around the body appearing as pus filled spots. The symptoms now will be weakness, weight loss, fever, hair loss, swollen lymph nodes and irregular pupils. Again the spots will go but the infection is still there.
Stage 3 – It could now appear that the syphilis has gone as there are no signs but this stage is dangerous as organ damage could occur. This could take a year or 20 years and over this time the symptoms can appear and disappear.
Tertiary stage- This is when heart problems start along with blindness and mental problems. The sores will be much more noticeable and by now it could be too late for treatment. But if one can acknowledge that they have a problem and get treatment, the worst could be avoided.
With syphilis the STD tests vary but they are mostly blood tests. They can be bought for use at home. Spinal fluid can also be tested but this has to be carried out by a doctor.