Syphilis: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria known as Treponema Pallidum. Over 88,000 syphilis cases were reported in the US in 2016, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Small and painless sore is often the first sign of syphilis, which appears on the sexual organs, inside the mouth or the rectum. And, most fail to notice the sore.

Syphilis is usually challenging to diagnose, since, sometimes symptoms don’t appear for several years. The earlier the syphilis is diagnosed, the better it is. If untreated over a period, it can lead to significant damage to organs such as the heart and brain.

This disease spreads through the direct contact of syphilitic chancres, but it is not transmitted by wearing someone else’s clothing, sharing utensils, and toilets.

Different Stages of Syphilis

There are four phases of this sexually-transmitted disease, and these are as follows:-

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Latent
  • Tertiary

During the first two stages, syphilis is highly infectious. However, if the symptoms of syphilis don’t come up, and remain hidden, the final stage is most disastrous to your health.

When Should I Test for Syphilis?

Typically, the first stage of syphilis goes undetected, and the symptoms in the second stage include common illness symptoms. It doesn’t matter if you are experiencing the early warning signs, get yourself tested if you’re:

  • A Sex Worker
  • Pregnant
  • Indulging in Unprotected Sex Multiple Times
  • having Unprotected Sex With Someone Having Syphilis

If the test result is positive, consult a doctor for a comprehensive treatment plan. And, make sure you have the full course antibiotics, even if the symptoms go away. Avoid sexual activities until your doctor declares you safe to do so. Also, get tested for HIV as well.

Diagnosis of Syphilis

The ELISA Kits are most preferred for detecting the syphilis antibodies in the blood. Antibodies are proteins that our immune system produces in response to the syphilis infection.  Best online blood tests can tell if your body is making the antibodies to fight syphilis.

The ELISA test is simple, your healthcare provider will draw the blood sample from your vein, and then the sample is sent to the medical laboratory for analysis. The results don’t take more than 24 hours to come.

People who have been diagnosed with syphilis must inform their sexual partner so they too get tested.

How to Prevent Syphilis?

Practicing safe sex is imperative to prevent syphilis infection. Use condoms for any sex. In addition, it may help to:

  • Avoid sex toys
  • Use a condom during oral sex.
  • Get screened for STIs.

Syphilis can also be transmitted via shared needles, so be careful with that too.

Treating and Curing Syphilis

Penicillin injection is the best treatment for Syphilis infection. If you’re allergic to penicillin, then your doctor may advise you other antibiotics:-

  • Doxycycline
  • Azithromycin
  • Ceftriaxone

The doses of penicillin are given intravenously daily; this may require a brief hospital stay. However, the damage caused to the body by syphilis cannot be reversed. The bacteria will be killed, and treatment is more focused on easing discomfort & pain.

During the treatment, avoid sexual contact, until all the sores fade away and are adequately healed. Make sure you speak to your doctor before resuming sexual activities.

Risk of HIV

People with syphilis have a higher risk of contracting HIV. The sores provide an invitation for HIV to enter into the body. It is also important to note that those with HIV may experience various symptoms of syphilis.

Final Words

Finally, if you’ve come across sores in the body and falls under the high-risk category of sexually transmitted diseases, it is best to get tested for syphilis.