Long term consequences of syphilis

As an healthcare expert like Best Sexologist in Karachi would tell you, syphilis is not a simple sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is a four-stage disease with primary, secondary, latent and tertiary stage, all of which are associated with their own signs and symptoms.

Read on to know more about the complications of syphilis and how it can be treated:

What is syphilis?

The highly contagious infection of syphilis is bacterial in origin, and mostly spread through sexual activity including anal and oral sex. Early on in the course of disease, the patient may not present with any symptoms and may unknowingly transmit the infection to their partner.

Even though the incidence of syphilis has decreased since the discovery of penicillin, the number of cases are on the rise in the recent years. Between the years 2014 and 2018, the United States alone saw an increase up to 71 percent in the cases of syphilis. The current resurgence of syphilis is higher because of the high-risk subpopulations of developed countries like the men having sex with men.

In the developing countries on the other hand, cases of congenital syphilis, which are transmitted from the mother to the baby are two to three times more common that perinatal HIV infections.

What are the stages of syphilis?

The symptoms of syphilis vary with each stage of disease. It is not necessary, however, to observe these stages in the same chronological order; the stages can overlap and even occur out of order.

In the primary stage of syphilis, there is a small sore at the site of entry of bacteria called a chancre. The chancre is painless in primary disease, and disappears soon after. This is the reason most people are not bothered by it. The chancre can be deeper in the vagina or rectum and may not be visible at first.

A few weeks after healing of the chancre, the secondary stage of syphilis commences with a rash that spreads from the trunk to the entire body—including the palms and soles. The secondary stage of syphilis can persist for months to even a year. The rash can be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, fever and muscle aches.

If treatment is not begun during this period, the infection moves to the latent or hidden stage of disease. This stage can last for years, and is most dangerous as it can progress to the third stage and cause complications.

Tertiary stage of syphilis is a complications laden stage whereby the nervous system starts getting affected by the virus. The bacteria of syphilis can damage the nerves, eyes, blood vessels, liver, joints, and even the heart. When syphilis involves the brain, it is referred to as neurosyphilis.

Long term sequelae of syphilis

Neurosyphilis and ocular syphilis damage the nervous system of the patient. The spread of infection to the brain results in paralysis, numbness, dementia and headaches.

Gummas or small bumps can grow on the bones, skin and the organs that can destroy the tissue around them in long-term untreated syphilis.

Cardiovascular problems secondary to valvular damage and vascular damage result in aortitis—inflammation of aorta, and aneurysm—abnormal dilation of vessels.

Congenital syphilis is when the mother transmits the infection to the baby through the placenta or during birth. If the baby manages to survive, then such children can be deaf, have nasal deformities, deformed teeth, or have a rash on their palms and feet.

Its best to seek medical help of a professional like Best Sexologist in Islamabad if there is unusual rash or sore in the genitalia.

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