The symptoms of Syphilis happen in 3 different stages, so it is important to get tested early if you feel you have been exposed to the bacterial infection. Because the symptoms are so similar to those of other STDs, syphilis has been given the nickname of the “great imitator”, and testing is required to know if it is present in the body.
Symptoms of Syphilis:
The symptoms of syphilis occur in 3 different stages: the primary stage, the secondary stage (also known as full body infection, and the tertiary stage or latent stage.
Secondary Stage or Full Body Infection
This stage begins 4-10 weeks after exposure to syphilis. In this stage you become incredible contagious and can easily pass it on to other people. Sores are also present at this time, but by now they have increased in regularity to become a full body rash that is reddish brown in color. There is also an increased risk of having sores around the mouth or genital region. In the secondary stage, these are not the only symptoms though. People infected with syphilis can experience increased weight loss, low grade fevers, increased hair loss, increased headaches, stiff neck, irregular pupils, and large lymph nodes all over the body. If left untreated and the symptoms persist, secondary stage syphilis can lead to harmful consequences, including: paralysis, loss of reflexes, irritability, and decreased hearing and vision. Even if symptoms go away on their own, that does not mean that it has been removed from the body. It is still extremely important to seek treatment if you are infected.
Tertiary or Latent Stage
This is known as the silent stage of syphilis, because the symptoms may disappear for years. It does not mean that the disease is no longer in the body, just that it has become inactive. It can resurface at any time though, causing symptoms that are much worse than in earlier stages. If left untreated to this point, syphilis can damage major parts of the body, including the nerves, liver, bones, joints, heart, eyes, and brain. Once this stage is reached, 15-30% of people will experience this type of damage to one or more of their bodily systems. Please get tested and seek treatment before you reach this stage.
Transmission of Syphilis
Syphilis is most contagious in the primary and secondary stages of the disease, but can be transferred early in the latent stage. It is transmitted through contact with the sores of an infected person, but can also transfer through even the smallest cuts and scrapes. It is also known to be received through the mucous membranes, causing higher risk from intercourse. Syphilis can be cured in the early stages, but a person can become re-infected whether undergoing treatment or not.
Type of Test Required for Diagnosis
A blood test is required to detect the antibodies for syphilis.