Stages of Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that occurs in four stages. The following iBuzzle article discusses the different stages of this bacterial infection.
Syphilis is an infection that spreads through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. A bacterium commonly known as Treponema pallidum is responsible for causing this sexually transmitted infection. Syphilis is highly contagious and can affect both women and men. Individuals are likely to get this disease from a sexual partner infected with syphilis.

Stages of Syphilis

Primary Syphilis
In this stage, a single sore (ulcer) appears on the genital area, anus or even the mouth. The primary lesion is seen on the scrotum or penis of men while it occurs on cervix, vulva ,or perineum in women. However, the ulcer usually does not cause any pain. The sore is visible to the naked eye within 3 to 4 weeks after being infected. When treated at this stage, the person recovers within 4 weeks.

Secondary Syphilis
During this stage, the infection starts spreading to the other parts of the body. A red skin rash on the palms or feet means that the infection has progressed to the second stage. The rash may also be seen on the entire body. During this stage, the person may also experience enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue, headache, and hair loss. Multiple lesions may form in the throat and mouth. Organs such as liver and muscles are affected by the bacterium. During this stage, the disease is considered to be highly infectious. The person is sure to land up in the third stage if timely treatment is not taken.

Latent Syphilis
This stage of syphilis occurs in 2 phases (early and late). Although the person may not show any symptoms in the early stage, the infection still persists in the body. In this stage the disease is contagious and hence one should abstain from sex. In the late stage of latent syphilis, the bacteria is non-infectious and is not transmitted through a sexual intercourse.

Tertiary Syphilis
This is the final and the most dangerous stage that may take at least 3 years to occur after the onset of infection. During this stage, the bacteria multiply and damage various organs of the body including the eyes, heart, brain, joints, bones, and the nervous system. The bacteria are capable of forming tumors in the body. As a result, cancerous growth may be observed in the bone, skin, and other tissues. Cardiovascular symptoms like aortic aneurysm may develop. In extreme cases, the person may develop dementia, paralysis and even blindness. Damage caused in tertiary stage is irreversible, hence it is recommended that you seek medical treatment in the third stage of syphilis.

Treatment and Prevention
This sexually transmitted disease can be easily cured if it is treated in the early stages. Doctors administer an intramuscular injection of penicillin to cure patients who are in the primary and secondary stages of syphilis. If the duration of the infection is more than 1 year, then additional doses will be required for complete recovery. People who are allergic to penicillin can take other antibiotics that are equally effective in getting rid of the infection. Unfortunately, home remedies for this STD are not available. Penicillin, given during the last (tertiary) stage cannot reverse the damage, however the disease can be controlled to a certain extent.

Accurate blood and plasma tests can notify whether the person has contracted the infection. In order to prevent syphilis, one should abstain from unprotected sex. Talk freely with your sexual partner and have honest communication about your suspicious sores, if any. Even if there are no visible sores, syphilis transmission can still occur. So a regular checkup is essential to diagnose and prevent transmission of this bacterial infection.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.
By Nicks J
Last Updated: 10/4/2011
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