What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is one of the best documented diseases in history. People who suffer from the disease can contract it by vaginal, anal, or even oral sex. Even today, 55,000 more patients are added to the list of victims to the disease every year, as estimated by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, the bacterium that is known to cause Syphilis, Treponema pallidum, has been identified and can be treated with a common antidote.
The problem is that the ‘great imitator’ has symptoms like many other common diseases and is not easy to diagnose by superficial examination. The primary and secondary stages of the disease, which are difficult to identify, are actually the most infectious.
What are the initial symptoms of Syphilis?
One of the first signs of a syphilis infection is the appearance of skin sores anywhere on the genitalia or even on the lips. The sores do not usually pain and therefore, the patients do not feel a need to consult a doctor, snubbing it as a regular rash. In fact, these symptoms may even subside after a while, which will then not be visible for many weeks, months or in some cases, as long as two years.
What happens if syphilis is not treated after the first infection?
The second stage of the disease is infectious and syphilis can be easily transmitted to others through direct contact with the sores. The symptoms at this stage of the disease include a red conspicuous skin rash on the palm, soles or on the whole body. Hair loss and lumps on the genitals are also experienced at this time. Some people may also notice enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, armpits and the neck. A general lethargy is also observed in the patient. This is usually the time when most people start with a treatment. The bacterial disease can be treated with a course of antibiotics. However, the medication cannot undo the damage the disease has already caused.
If untreated, which is not usually the case, the patient enters the tertiary stage, which occurs many years after the infection was first contracted. The symptoms are the physical manifestation of the continued damage to the heart, spinal cord and even the brain. In the advanced stage, the disease is not contagious either. Syphilis can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her child. Medication is available to prevent the infection from reaching the child.
How is Syphilis tested?
We can recommend a convenient and reliable testing center for you, where you can undergo a simple blood test called the Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR). This test finds the antibodies that the body has created to fight the syphilis infection. The presence of these antibodies is proof that the body is indeed suffering from Syphilis. To confirm the infection, our doctors then run a confirmatory Treponema Pallidum test that backs the initial testing. In some cases, the syphilis-causing bacteria can also be identified under a microscope in the samples collected from the sores or the spinal fluid from the patient. To keep track of how well a treatment is working, it is important to take blood tests regularly. Even after the treatment is complete, patients should undergo regular testing, because in some cases the treatment needs to be repeated. The accuracy of the testing is paramount to check for a relapse.
Is Syphilis curable?
If you are experiencing any identifiable signs or symptoms, get checked immediately. In case of Syphilis, the earlier the treatment, the better it is. It is absolutely curable in the early stages. Once detected, it can be treated with Penicillin. However, it is important to follow the course of treatment religiously. Patients who fail to follow through may not get rid of the bacteria completely, making the symptoms relapse. It is also recommended that the patient’s partner go through the treatment to be on the safer side. The later stages of the infection are not only much more serious, but also make the patient more vulnerable to catching HIV. Moreover, untreated pregnant women suffering from Syphilis are even at a higher risk of abortion.
Where can I get tested for Syphilis?
We have prepared a database of some of the best testing centers across the US. Some of the centers are also operational on Saturdays, because it is convenient for the patients. To find a testing center, you can visit the location page and find a list of centers near you. If you want further assistance, our trained executives will take you through the page and help you in picking out the closest test center near you.