Syphilis is one of many serious sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can affect both men and women. This disease is particularly serious since, if left untreated, it can cause long-term or even permanent complications. Fortunately, however, if the disease is caught and treated early enough, treatment is relatively easy, and long-term effects can be avoided. The key is early detection. All people who engage in unprotected sexual activity should be tested for syphilis as soon as possible, especially if they exhibit any syphilis symptoms. Of course, it is always better to avoid contracting syphilis in the first place, which can be achieved through practicing safe anal, vaginal, and oral sex each and every time.
The First Syphilis Symptoms
Syphilis symptoms are often thought of as being easily recognizable. And, the truth is, they are…to those who have seen syphilis before and who are aware of how it presents. To the average person, however, the symptoms of syphilis can be and often are mistaken for other, more minor conditions.
The most tell-tale sign of syphilis is the development of a painless sore, known as a chancre, at or near the infection site. The sore, however, is often confused for a cut, a burn, an ingrown hair, or even an allergic reaction.
Then, of course, you have those people who experience only very mild symptoms or who do not have any symptoms at all. These people often do not realize they are infected. Because of these facts, syphilis often goes undiagnosed and untreated, which is unfortunate, because the longer it goes untreated, the more time it has to negatively and perhaps even permanently affect the body’s vital organs, including the brain.
As you can see, syphilis symptoms should never be used as a reliable indicator of whether or not a person has syphilis. The only way to know for sure is through medical testing, and anyone who has had unprotected sex is advised to undergo this testing.
Later Syphilis Symptoms
Once the chancre, if experienced, has healed, a person will typically progress to what is known as secondary syphilis. During this stage, sufferers may develop a rash over the body. This rash, which may consist of sores, will usually be very obvious on the hands and on the bottoms of the feet. After the rash heals, a person is headed into the latent stage of the disease, which is the most dangerous. At this stage, syphilis is basically left to “run free” in the body, where it can attack and damage its most vital systems. Permanent neurological damage, heart damage, liver damage, and more can all develop if syphilis is allowed to persist into this third and final stage.
Fortunately, syphilis is easily treatable if it is diagnosed and attended to early on. If a person waits into the later stages, the disease can typically still be treated though it may have caused permanent damage to the body. Syphilis is treated with a rigorous course of antibiotics, but these antibiotics cannot undo any damage the disease has done to the body. Obviously, syphilis is not something to take lightly and should always be treated as quickly as possible.