Syphilis symptoms can never point out what a deadly killer this disease can be! It is often called “the great imitator” and there are valid reasons for that. Because these symptoms are often confused with symptoms of other diseases considered less dangerous. In real life situations, one can never get an inkling of a possible Syphilis infection if he is not looking out for signs of Syphilis.
As per United States Center for Disease Control, this STD is far more dangerous than it looks to be. In 2006 alone, the CDC recorded more than 36,000 cases. Out of that, nearly, there were 10,000 cases of primary and secondary syphilis. Both men are women are equally affected by this disease is, however, it is very common in women between 20 to 24 years of age. In men, the 35 to 40 age category is the common victim. Like any other STDs, this disease propagates through direct sexual contact of very intimate nature. It may be any of the three– vaginal, oral or rectal sex.
Syphilis has three distinct stages with subtle but different symptoms. People who do not recognize the early symptoms remain untreated for a considerable time so the disease enters the latent stage. Its onslaught on each sex is as devastating as the other, however, syphilis symptoms in women are more marked than syphilis symptoms in men.
First Stage of Syphilis
The first symptoms of syphilis is a painless sore mostly on genitals. It can appear on the tongue if the infection took place due to oral sex. It is popularly believed that the sore, that resembles an ulcer, appears at the spot where the disease first entered the body. This is called a chancre.
On an average, first symptoms take around 21 days, however, the sore appears between 10 and 90 days after exposure to the bacteria. It is not unusual for people to have several sores, but in most cases, there is a single sore. It is usually painless and small. If not treated, it disappears in 3-6 weeks, on its own. Because it is painless and disappears without any medicine, people often do not consider it to be serious, so they do not seek medical advice. Even if the chancre heals, the bacteria remains inside the body and thrives. Now, it progresses to the second stage.
Second Stage of Syphilis
In this stage, the disease manifests a wide range of symptoms. Each of these assorted symptoms indicates some other simpler disease. This stage is referred to as the secondary stage of Syphilis. There are lesions on the mucous membranes. There are rashes on different parts of the skin. In some cases, the complete body is covered with rashes. They are so faint that it is difficult to notice them in some cases. The strange part is
Syphilis Rash may not have proportionate itching. These rashes appear to be dry livid and grey patches without much activity at the area. Secondary symptoms of Syphilis include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches. With this fever or feverish conditions come blisters, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands. In some cases, there may be hair loss in patches.
Third Stage of Syphilis: Latent Syphilis
If it is left untreated at this stage, it will enter into a stage with no further visible symptoms. During this period, the disease takes up very destructive and evil turn. It is difficult to say how long the disease will sleep in this condition, but it’s very long period. This is called the latent stage. During this stage, infected people don’t manifest many symptoms and they don’t spread the disease. The disease is still present in them and they can be effectively treated.
Later Stage of Syphilis
This stage appears in people after a very long period, say about 10 to 20 years after the initial symptoms. Such cases are less in number, less than 25%. This is also called as the constitutional stage. During this stage, Syphilis doesn’t spare any internal organ, even brain. It affects the heart, blood vessels, eyes, liver, joints, bones, and nerves too. So, there are motor dysfunctions such as difficulty in coordinating muscle movements and partial or complete paralysis. There also can be sensory dysfunctions such as complete numbness or in patches. The onset of blindness also comes as a result. Due to the affection of the brain, there comes confusion, loss of memory, and dementia. All these organ damages lead to death in the final stage.
The disease can be detected through a simple STD screening that includes examining cells from a lesion or chancre in the first two stages of syphilis, and blood tests during any stage of syphilis. If detected during the first year, a single shot of penicillin will eradicate the disease and prevent further damage. Because the early symptoms can be so vague and mistaken for other illnesses, the CDC says that it is extremely important for sexually active teens as well as adults whose behavior might increase their risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases to schedule regular Syphilis testing to screen for syphilis. Routine, regular STD testing can detect early enough to prevent permanent damage from the disease.