What Causes Syphilis in Women?
Syphilis is a common Sexually Transmitted Disease that has been shown to cause far reaching consequences and complications or even death if not attended to at an early stage. According to the World Health Organization WHO, there are about 12.22 million people who contract syphilis every year. The CDC shows rates of infection to be about 15000 per year. Though the disease is said to be transmitted through sexual intercourse, there are few cases where the infection occurs during pregnancy, thus infecting the unborn child.
What Causes Syphilis?
Syphilis is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum and is transmitted sexually. Upon entering the body, the bacteria starts acting on the nervous system as well as body organs, the main one being the heart. Lack of immediate attention can cause irreversible damage to the body or even death.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Syphilis?
The signs and symptoms of syphilis vary depending on the stage that the infection may occur. Normally, symptoms will appear after about 21 days, it symptoms in some patients may take as few as 10 days to as much as 90 days to show. Syphilis will normally occur in 3 stages. These are primary, secondary as well as tertiary.
In this stage of the infection, one will notice a single sore on the body, though there may be many more sores. In most cases, the causes of the sore show the location where the syphilis entered the body. The sore is firm, round and does not cause any pain. The sore can go unnoticed because it is painless. Normally, the sore will last about 3 – 6 weeks and will resolve on itself irrespective you get treatment or not. It is very important to seek treatment immediately you notice the sore and not to ignore the cause of the sore just because it resolves on its own.
In this stage, skin rashes, vaginal rashes are common as well as sores in the mouth vagina and anus. The disease may start with a rash in one area of the body, especially as the sore from the primary stage of infection is resolving. The rash that appears is red in color and may have brown spots. As in the primary stage, the rash may go unnoticed as it does not itch. Brow or red spots may also appear on the palms of your hands and feet soles in this stage.
Fever starts to develop in this stage as the lymph glands swell as well. Sore throat, hair loss, weight loss*, fatigue, muscle aches as well as headaches may be reported in this stage. Symptoms observed in this stage die down naturally irrespective of whether you receive treatment or not.
As the secondary symptoms of syphilis die down, the symptoms of this stage emerge. This can be many years after the initial infection and this stage may manifest itself 10 – 30 years post infection. Symptoms in this stage are quite grave and include difficulty to coordinate muscle movement, paralysis dementia, blindness or even numbness of certain areas of the body. Due to the extent of damage of internal that the disease may have had on the body, death may result.
Neonatal or Congenital Syphilis
If you happen to be pregnant and infected with syphilis, you can give this infection to your unborn child. In most cases, a low birth weight baby will be born, early delivery or even a stillbirth. To ensure the unborn baby is protected, it is highly advisable to visit a medical practitioner who will test for the disease and know the best remedy that can be given to save your baby from infection.
What Tests Are Used To Diagnose Syphilis?
In most cases, a blood sample will be taken by the consultant and sent to the lab where the bacteria causing syphilis is checked. Testing may also involve by swabbing a suspected syphilis sore which is sent to the lab for tests.
What Is The Treatment For Syphilis?
Syphilis is easily treatable at any stage. It is however important to note that treatment will not reverse* any organ damage that may have occurred. Penicillin is the antibiotic that is used for either primary, secondary or tertiary infections. The penicillin is administered via intramuscular injections.
What Are The Potential Complications Of Syphilis?
The most common complications that may arise from syphilis include cardiovascular syphilis and Neurosyphilis. In cardiovascular syphilis, the syphilis bacteria causes damage to the heart and blood vessels, about 10 – 30 years post infection. Neurosyphilis is manifest through damaged nerves which may cause blindness, paralysis dementia as well as psychiatric problems. To stay safe, it is highly advisable to go for a checkup on Sexually Transmitted Disease at least once a year to ensure that you stay healthy.