Syphilis is an STD, the cause is a bacterium. Syphilis is easy to transfer, but luckily it is not very common. In the beginning you do not notice that you have it. Therefore, do an STD check after unsafe sex. Which complaints indicate syphilis? How do you get rid of syphilis?
First stage of syphilis symptoms
The first symptoms of syphilis become visible two weeks to three months (and sometimes up to twelve months) after the infection. A small, hard ulcer will then develop where you are infected. This can be on the penis, in the vagina, in the anus or in the mouth, depending on how you have sex. The ulcer is red in color, feels hard and doesn’t hurt much. When the ulcer is in the vagina or anus and you cannot see it, it can go completely unnoticed. The lymph nodes near the ulcer may be swollen, so these are often the lymph nodes in the groin or in the neck. The sore disappears automatically, without treatment, within three to six weeks. However, you are not cured of the disease and even without an ulcer you are still contagious.
Second stage of syphilis symptoms
The second stage of syphilis starts about six weeks to twelve months after the infection. Often the ulcer is gone again. The bacterium has spread through the body at that time. The symptoms of syphilis that occur at this stage are often rather unclear.
The most important complaints in this second stage are:
- Fatigue, headache, fever and flu symptoms.
- Muscle pain and bone pain.
- Stuffed lymph nodes.
- Blurred spots (roseoles) all over the body, on the torso and especially on the palms and soles of the feet.
- (Light) hair loss.
- Wart-like spots in the genitals.
- Eye inflammation, eye complaints and reduced vision.
- Hepatic and renal impairment.
All these complaints will go away again, but even now the disease is not gone from the body. If the syphilis is not treated, you will be in the so-called slumber stage, also known as latent syphilis. This stage can last for years, in which you have no noticeable complaints. In the first year of this slumber stage you are still contagious.
Third stage of syphilis symptoms
The third stage of syphilis often occurs years later. At this stage, the infection has spread throughout the body and various organs may be affected. Brain and spinal cord damage causes mental decline and paralysis (neurosyphilis). Syphilis can also cause infection of the bones and heart and blood vessels, affecting them.The insidious thing about syphilis is that the symptoms in the first two stages often pass unnoticed and go away automatically. So, without knowing that you are sick, you can end up in the serious third stage, in the third stage the damage caused by the infection can no longer be treated.
How do you get syphilis?
Syphilis is caused by infection with a bacterium. (It is called Treponema Pallidum.) You contract it during unsafe sex when the mucous membranes of the penis, vagina, anus or mouth touch. The bacteria gets into the mucous membrane and causes an infection there. If there is a syphilis ulcer on someone’s lips or mouth you can also get syphilis from kissing. From the mucous membrane the bacteria eventually enter your blood and then spread to other organs.
How does a syphilis test work?
Blood tests are required for a test for syphilis. Syphilis is detectable in your blood after a few weeks.
Your doctor will give you antibiotics. This kills the syphilis bacteria. Sometimes follow-up blood tests are necessary, up to two years your treatment. This varies per person. You should not have sex during treatment. If you do have sex, use a condom in any case.
If you don’t do anything about syphilis
Without treatment, the syphilis bacteria spreads throughout the body through the blood. The consequences can then be very serious. You can get eye complaints: an eyeball inflammation or even loss of sight. Syphilis can go unnoticed for up to 30 years and then strike. You get inflammation and damage in almost all your organs, even in your skin and bones. You can get a meningitis and also get confused and paralyzed.
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