The bacteria Treponema pallidum causes the infection called Syphilis. The signs and symptoms of syphilis vary in every phase and infected person. There are many people who never display any symptoms but for those who do, the initial stage would show swelling of the lymph nodes and painless sores around the genital area. The second stage would show some symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, fever, appetite loss, fatigue, and rashes. The last stage is the most devastating when the infection attacks the central nervous system, the brain, and the heart.
In the matter of tests, blood tests are the basis to identify the bacteria that has caused the infection. The traditional test is the VDRL tests, but other developed tests such as FTA-ABS and RPR are also used. Taking antibiotics usually clear up the infection and the preferred one is penicillin which could be injected intramuscularly or deep vein depending on the stage of the infection. For some people who are allergic to penicillin, doxycycline is the effective substitute drug used.
Oral doses of azithromycin, tetracycline or doxycycline are also highly effective in eradicating the infection. However, in the case of neurosyphilis, the effective treatment would be a combination of doxycycline, aqueous crystalline penicillin G in which high doses have to be maintained in the tissues of the patient over a period of days or weeks as it has been found that the bacteria could not be eradicated right off. Another symptom for syphilis, especially in the second stage, would be the appearance of skin rashes and ulcers. Infected people having these manifestations are advised to keep them clean and dry and avoid exposing them to other non-infected persons.
There are side-effects after treatment is begun for syphilis. During the initial stage, a Jarish-Herxheimer reaction is expected which include symptoms such as rashes, muscle and joint pain, nausea, and headache which disappears after 24 hours. Blood tests need follow –up periods from 3, 6, 12, and 24 months to ensure that the infection is completely gone. Sexual activity should be avoided during the two follow-up periods as infection may still be in the system. It is during the initial and second stage where syphilis is at its most transmittable stage. Syphilis is included in reportable contamination and doctors have no choice but to report any syphilis case that they consult in.
Pregnant women who are or have been infected with syphilis needs to be treated to prevent transmitting the infection to the fetus. For infants who are afflicted with congenital syphilis cure could be achieved with either aqueous crystalline penicillin G or aqueous procaine penicillin G. It is through the help of antibiotics that syphilis can be cured and recuperation period following initial treatment should be supported by a good and healthy diet, adequate sleep, and exercise.
The only way to allay your fears regarding syphilis is to submit to a VDRL test or any other newly-developed tests so treatment can be started before the infection could do more damage to your body which could eventually lead to early death.