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Having sex is the basic urge of the human race and this has been going on since time immemorial. It has its own share of problems which manifest in the form of sexually transmitted diseases. Yes, preventive measures can be taken to curtain the spread of such diseases. It would be foolhardy to expect the entire world population to exercise such restraints. If the world were so perfect, there would not be any diseases to speak about.
This is nature. So, sexually transmitted infections are there to stay and one very common infection affecting both males and females alike is Syphilis. This is a highly contagious disease which spreads primarily by sexual activity. This disease spreads through sores. There have also been instances when this disease has been passed on from pregnant women to their babies.
Syphilis Causes :
This is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium “Treponema Pallidum”. The main cause of spread of Syphilis is through direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, oral or anal sex. This infection can be active as well as inactive at times. Even when it is inactive the disease can spread. Some of the main causes of getting syphilis are as follows.
- The bacteria enter the body through the tissues of the throat, nose, rectum or the vagina.
- It can pass from a pregnant woman to her child.
- Having unprotected sex or having sex with more than one partner can cause syphilis.
Signs and Symptoms :
There are four stages in a Syphilis infection.
- The Primary Stage : This stage manifests about three to four weeks after being infected with the bacteria. It begins with the formation of a small round sore also known as chancre. This is painless but at the same time highly infectious. The sore usually appears where the bacteria makes its entrance into the body such as genitals, rectum or on the insides of the mouth. Syphilis is transmitted by direct contact with the sore.
- Secondary Stage of Syphilis : This is characterized by skin rashes and sore throat. These rashes will not itch and are usually found on the palms and soles. Other symptoms may include headaches, swollen lymph glands, weight loss, fever etc.
- Latent or the Hidden Stage : The primary and secondary symptoms usually disappear. But the threat remains. You may not have noticeable symptoms but you will still be infected. You could remain in this stage for years. If not treated this leads to the life threatening tertiary stage.
- Tertiary Stage : This stage is the final stage of syphilis which occurs if treatment is not taken during the initial stages. The outcomes of this tertiary stage include blindness, mental illness, heart disease and neurological disorders.
Syphilis tests are used to screen for the presence of the bacteria Treponema Pallidum. Antibody tests are mainly done which include the following.
- Nontreponemal Antibody Tests : These tests detect antibodies that are not directed against the Treponema Pallidum bacteria. But as they are non-specific tests, they may give contradicting results. Such tests include the Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) test and the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VRDL) tests.
- Treponemal Antibody Tests : These tests specifically target the Treponema bacteria and are specifically meant for syphilis. These include the FTA-ABS (Fluorescent Treponemal antibody absorption) test which is useful after the first 3 to 4 weeks following exposure. The TP-PA (T.Pallidum particle agglutination assay) test is more specific and does not give false results.
A syphilis diagnosis is done after interpreting the results of the screening tests as detailed above. A positive RPR or a VRDL test should be further investigated by the conduction of the Treponemal antibody tests. Doctors even take blood as well as urine samples to confirm presence of the bacteria. If a sore is present the case becomes that much stronger. In case the doctor feels that you are experiencing nervous problems on account of tertiary syphilis, he may conduct a spinal tap or a lumbar puncture for collecting spinal fluid and test for bacteria.
The invention of penicillin has reduced the spread of Syphilis which can now be cured without causing permanent damage. Without treatment one has a good chance of developing tertiary syphilis which can result in organ damage and may be death.
Once a person contacts syphilis at any stage, the same can be passed on from person to person. The best way to prevent syphilis is to abstain from any form of sexual activity until you or your partner is completely cured of the disease. A pregnant woman should undergo blood tests to avoid passing it on to her unborn child.
This is a highly contagious disease which can spread from skin to skin contact. Contact with the sore should be avoided at any time. It does not spread by sharing clothes or toilet seats etc. Physical contact is the only way it can spread from person to person.
There are six types of syphilis which can be listed as follows.
- Primary Syphilis : This is the initial stage of syphilis.
- Secondary Syphilis : If untreated in the primary stage, the secondary stage manifests itself.
- Latent Syphilis : This usually affects after the disappearance of the secondary stages. You can remain for years in this stage. You can still affect people at this stage.
- Tertiary Syphilis : This stage may result in complications such as blindness, heart disease as well as neurological disorders.
- Late Syphilis : This is the last stage of syphilis which usually proves fatal.
- Congenital Syphilis : In this type the disease is passed from pregnant woman to her unborn child.
Congenital Syphilis can cause lot of problems to the unborn baby such as deformities, seizures, rashes, anemia and jaundice. People with syphilis develop increased chances of getting affected by AIDS.
Syphilis Home Remedies :
Nature has its own way of curing syphilis. Some common remedies are as follows.
- Aloe Vera : Apply a thick layer of Aloe Vera to the wounds. Let it dry and you can see the scabs falling away.
- Tea tree Oil : Applying tea tree oil on the affected area can reduce the symptoms. You can also add a couple of spoons of tea tree oil to you bath water.
- Anthocleista : The roots of this medicinal shrub can be used to treat a variety of STDs.
Penicillin is the best cure for syphilis. People with primary syphilis can be cured by a single shot of penicillin. Later stages require longer treatment. Other antibiotics include Doxycycline, Azithromycin and Ceftriaxone. It is important to treat sex partners too.