Complications Of Syphilis

Syphilis is a type of bacterial infection that is most often spread through sexual contact. The disease may start as a sore that causes no pain. The sore can appear on any part of your body, but is often found on the genitals or in the mouth. If syphilis is left untreated there may be damage to the brain or heart.

The rate of syphilis within the United States has been on the rise since the year 2000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the new infections, as many as two-thirds, occur between men in homosexual relationships. But the rates have also risen in young women. More African Americans get syphilis than do white men.

Four Stages

Syphilis has four stages and can cause some serious complications or even death. Having syphilis also means you are more susceptible to other STD's such as HIV. But if syphilis is caught early it can be cured with antibiotic treatment.

Pregnant women with syphilis can transmit the disease to their babies who may sustain permanent damage. Treating babies with congenital syphilis may stop them from incurring even more damage, but won't repair any damage that has already occurred.

Here are some of the complications of syphilis:

*Small tumors or bumps—these are called gummas and can develop on the infected person's skin, bones, liver, or other organs during the final stage of syphilis. Treatment tends to resolve these bumps.

Nervous System

*Neurological issues—During late stage syphilis, there may be several nervous system issues such as dementia, personality changes, visual handicaps or deafness, paralysis, numbness, poor coordination of the muscles, meningitis, or stroke.

*Cardiovascular issues—There may be an inflammation of the aorta, the major artery of the body, or there may be a bulging aneurysm. Any and all blood vessels can be affected. Syphilis may also cause disease in the heart valves, for instance aortic valve stenosis.

*HIV infection—Any adult who has syphilis or genital ulcers of any kind has an increased risk for contracting HIV. The risk has been estimated as somewhere between 2-5 times higher than that of the general population. Because syphilis sores bleed, they offer a direct path for HIV to enter the bloodstream during sex.

Congenital Syphilis

*Pregnancy and infant complications—40% of babies with congenital syphilis die whether from miscarriage, stillbirth, or as newborns. The rate of preterm labor is also higher in babies with congenital syphilis.


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