Syphilis is a disease that can lie dormant in your body for 20 or 30 years before it activates and causes conditions like blindness, dementia, and meningitis. Alka Rebentish, MD, and Chukwudum Uche, MD, FIDSA, FACP, of Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada, can help you avoid these life-changing conditions by providing regular testing for syphilis. They can also cure syphilis with antibiotics. Call the clinic today for an in-person or telehealth appointment, or schedule a consultation using the online tool.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that a bacterial infection causes. The first sign of infection (primary syphilis) is a painless sore called a chancre, which could appear on your genitals, mouth, or rectum. The disease spreads via contact with these sores.
At this early stage, the specialists at Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic can cure syphilis using antibiotics. If you don’t get any treatment, the bacteria that cause syphilis lie dormant in your body, often for decades, before starting to multiply again.
Untreated syphilis can have potentially life-threatening consequences. You can also pass syphilis on to your unborn child during pregnancy, which can lead to deafness, deformities, premature birth, and stillbirth.
In many cases, you won’t realize you have syphilis at first because the chancre could be out of sight, and as it’s painless, you may not notice it. Even if you do see it, you might not know it’s a sign of syphilis.
The chancre heals up and disappears within six weeks, but a few weeks after that, you might develop a non-itchy rash that ends up covering your whole body, including your soles and palms. Other symptoms of secondary syphilis you might experience at the same time include:
These symptoms of secondary syphilis might disappear after a couple of weeks or could keep coming and going for up to a year.
When syphilis enters the dormant stage (latent syphilis), symptoms disappear altogether. You might never experience any other symptoms, or your condition could develop into tertiary syphilis.
Tertiary syphilis affects up to 30% of people who have the disease and don’t get treatment. It can cause severe damage to your brain and nerves (neurosyphilis), eyes (ocular syphilis), heart and blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints.
As a result of having tertiary syphilis, you can develop complications like:
Syphilis also increases your risk of HIV infection.
Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic specialists can treat primary and secondary syphilis with a simple shot of penicillin. If your syphilis is more advanced, you might need a course of antibiotic injections.
There’s no vaccine against syphilis, so avoiding intercourse is the only way to prevent infection. If you’re sexually active, never have unprotected sex and try to reduce risky activities to minimize your chances of infection.
If you do have syphilis, it’s important to notify previous sexual partners so they can get tested and treated, too. This helps reduce the spread of syphilis as well as preventing you from becoming reinfected.
To book a test for syphilis and other STDs, call Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic today or schedule an appointment online.