Syphilis is a serious disease characterized by damage to the skin, mucous membranes and internal organs of a person.
It belongs to the classic sexually transmitted diseases. Unprotected intercourse with an unreliable or casual sexual partner can cause syphilis.
Symptoms of syphilis are very diverse, and the manifestations of the disease largely depend on its period. Previously, this infection was considered incurable, but nowadays it is successfully treated with antibiotics.
How is syphilis transmitted
In most cases, syphilis infection occurs through sexual contact in the vagina, mouth or rectum. Treponema enters the body through minor defects of the mucous membrane of the genital tract.
However, there are cases of infection in a household way - the disease is transmitted from one partner to another through saliva during a kiss, through public goods on which there is a dry detachable, containing pale treponema. Sometimes the cause of infection can be transfusion of infected blood.
A motile microorganism from the spirochete order, pale treponema is the causative agent of syphilis in women and men. Opened in 1905 by German microbiologists Fritz Schaudin (him. Fritz Richard Schaudinn, 1871-1906) and Erich Hoffmann (him. Erich Hoffmann, 1863-1959).
On average, it is 4-5 weeks, in some cases the incubation period for syphilis is shorter, sometimes longer (up to 3-4 months). It is usually asymptomatic.
The incubation period may increase if the patient took any antibiotics due to other infectious diseases. During the incubation period, the test results will show a negative result.
Symptoms of syphilis
The course of syphilis and its characteristic symptoms will depend on the stage of development at which it is located. In this case, the symptoms in women and men can be very diverse.
In total, it is common to distinguish 4 stages of the disease, starting from the incubation period and ending with tertiary syphilis.
The first signs of syphilis make themselves felt after the end of the incubation period (it proceeds without symptoms) and the onset of the first stage. It is called primary syphilis, which we will describe below.
The formation of painless hard chancre on the female’s lips in women or the head of the penis in men is the first sign of syphilis. It has a dense base, smooth edges and brown-red bottom.
The ulcers are formed at the site of the pathogen penetration into the body, it may be other places, but more often chancre is formed on the genitals of a man or a woman, since the main way of transmission of the disease is through sexual intercourse.
7-14 days after the onset of hard chancre, the lymph nodes nearest to it begin to grow. This is a sign that the tripona with blood flow spread throughout the body, and affect the internal organs and systems of man. The ulcer heals on its own within 20–40 days after onset. However, this can not be regarded as a cure for the disease, in fact, the infection develops.
At the end of the primary period, specific symptoms may occur:
- weakness, insomnia;
- headache, loss of appetite;
- low-grade fever;
- pain in muscles and joints;
The primary period of the disease is divided into seronegative, when the standard serological reactions of the blood are negative (the first three to four weeks after the onset of a hard chancre) and seropositive, when the reactions of the blood are positive.
After the end of the first phase of the disease, secondary syphilis begins. The symptoms that are characteristic at this moment are the occurrence of a symmetrical pale rash all over the body, including the palms and soles. It does not cause any pain. But it is the first sign of secondary syphilis, which occurs 8-11 weeks after the appearance of the first ulcers on the patient's body.
If the disease is not treated and at this stage, then over time the rash disappears and syphilis flows into a hidden stage, which can last up to 4 years. After a certain period of time, the disease relapses.
At this stage, the rash is less, they are more faded. A rash occurs more often in areas where the skin is exposed to mechanical stress — on the extensor surfaces, in the inguinal folds, under the mammary glands, in the interglacial fold, on the mucous membranes. This may cause hair loss on the head, as well as the appearance of growths of flesh-colored on the genitals and in the anus.
Today, fortunately, infection in the third stage of development is rare.
However, if the disease is not treated promptly, then after 3-5 years or more from the moment of infection, the tertiary period of syphilis begins. At this stage, the infection affects the internal organs, and foci (gums) form on the skin, mucous membranes, heart, liver, brain, lungs, bones and eyes. The back of the nose can fall, and during the meal and food gets into the nose.
The symptoms of tertiary syphilis are associated with the death of nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord, as a result, in the advanced third stage dementia and progressive paralysis may occur. Wasserman reaction and other analyzes can be weakly positive or negative.
Do not wait for the development of the last stage of the disease, and at the first alarming symptoms, immediately consult a doctor.
Diagnosis of syphilis will directly depend on the stage at which it is located. It will be based on the symptoms of the patient and the resulting analyzes.
In the case of the primary stage, chancres and lymph nodes are subject to examination. At the next stage, the affected skin, mucous papules are examined. In general, bacteriological, immunological, serological and other research methods are used to diagnose the infection. It should be borne in mind that at certain stages of the disease, the results of syphilis tests may be negative in the presence of the disease, which makes it difficult to diagnose the infection.
To confirm the diagnosis, a specific Wasserman reaction is carried out, but it often gives false results of the analysis. Therefore, for the diagnosis of syphilis, it is necessary to simultaneously use several types of analysis - REEF, ELISA, RIBT, RPGA, microscopy method, PCR analysis.
In women and men, the treatment of syphilis should be comprehensive and individual. This is one of the most formidable sexually transmitted diseases, leading to serious consequences with improper treatment, so under no circumstances should you self-medicate at home.
Antibiotics form the basis of the treatment of syphilis, thanks to them the effectiveness of treatment is close to 100%. The patient can be treated on an outpatient basis, under the supervision of a physician, who prescribes a comprehensive and individual treatment. Today, antisyphilitic therapy uses penicillin derivatives in sufficient doses (benzylpenicillin). Premature termination of treatment is unacceptable, it is necessary to undergo a full course of treatment.
At the discretion of the attending physician may prescribe supplementing antibiotics treatment - immunomodulators, probiotics, vitamins, physiotherapy, etc. During treatment, any sexual contact and alcohol are strictly contraindicated in a man or a woman. After the end of treatment, it is necessary to pass control tests. These may be non-treponemal blood tests in quantitative form (for example, RW with a cardiolipin antigen).
The consequences of the treated syphilis usually consist in a decrease in immunity, problems with the endocrine system, lesions of the chromosomal series of varying severity. In addition, after treating pale treponema, a trace reaction remains in the blood, which may not disappear until the end of life.
If syphilis is not detected and not cured, it can progress to the tertiary (late) stage, which is the most destructive.
Complications of a late stage include:
- Gum, large ulcers inside the body or on the skin. Some of these gum "dissolve", leaving no traces, in place of the rest syphilis ulcers are formed, leading to softening and destruction of tissues, including the bones of the skull. It turns out that a person is simply rotting alive.
- Nervous system lesions (latent, acute generalized, subacute (basal) meningitis, syphilitic hydrocephalus, early meningovascular syphilis, meningomyelitis, neuritis, spinal cord jerk, paralysis, etc.);
- Neurosyphilis, which affects the brain or the lining covering the brain.
If the infection with treponema occurs during pregnancy, the consequences of the infection can be manifested in a child who receives pale treponema through the mother's placenta.
The most reliable prevention of syphilis is the use of a condom. It is necessary to conduct a timely examination in contacts with infected people. It is also possible to use antiseptic drugs (hexicon, etc.).
When an infection is found in oneself, it is important to inform all your sexual partners of this, so that they also pass the appropriate examination.
The prognosis of the disease in most cases is favorable. Timely diagnosis and adequate treatment leads to full recovery. However, with long-term chronic course and in cases of infection of the fetus in the womb, persistent irreversible changes develop, leading to disability.