Syphilis Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
What Is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that, if left untreated, can infect the brain or spinal cord (neurosyphilis) and cause devastating neurological symptoms. Thankfully, the disease can be easily treated with antibiotics in its early stages, and prevented by practicing safe sex.
To schedule a consultation with a Santa Monica STC clinic specializing in syphilis treatment, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Vitality Integrative Medicine online.
Causes of Syphilis
Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum, and is spread through sexual contact (oral, vaginal, or anal). Specifically, syphilis is transmitted through contact with syphilitic sores.
After contact, the bacteria from the sores can enter through either small cuts/scrapes or mucous membranes. As such, having unprotected sex can increase the chance of syphilis infections.
Syphilis may also be transmissible by kissing if one partner has a sore on their mouth, but it is not transmissible through casual contact such as holding hands.
Syphilis can also be passed from a pregnant person to their child during fetal development or at birth, a condition known as congenital syphilis.
Symptoms of Syphilis
There are several stages of syphilis, and each stage can last a different amount of time:
- Primary Stage: Symptoms appear between ten days and three months after initial infection; can last between three and six weeks
- Secondary Stage: Symptoms last between two and six weeks
- Latent Stage: No symptoms; can last for one to two years
- Tertiary Stage: Complications occur years after initial infection
Syphilis Stage Symptoms
Syphilis symptoms depend on the stage of the disease.
Primary Stage Symptoms:
The main sign of primary syphilis is the appearance of chancres, small, painless sores that appear in the area where the initial infection occurred (often the mouth, genitals, or rectum).
Secondary Stage Symptoms:
The most common symptom of the secondary stage is the aforementioned flat, red-brown, non-itchy rash on the hands and feet that appears after the chancres disappear. Additional STD symptoms characteristic of secondary stage syphilis may include a fever, muscle aches, or sore throat.
Latent Stage Symptoms:
If the disease is not treated during the second stage, it may become dormant, entering the latent stage. The disease will be not cause symptoms (be asymptomatic), but it will still be present in the body.
Tertiary Stage Symptoms:
A small percentage of people with latent syphilis will develop tertiary syphilis, which can lead to serious complications.
Complications of Tertiary Syphilis
Also known late stage syphilis, tertiary syphilis can cause life-threatening damage to the nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, and skeletal systems. For example, if syphilis spreads to the eyes, it can cause vision loss.
Symptoms of syphilis in the brain (neurosyphilis) can include:
- Severe and sudden headaches
- Hearing loss
- Swelling of the membranes that line the central nervous system (meningitis)
If neurosyphilis is not treated, it can lead to chronic dementia, which can include:
- Memory loss
- Personality changes
- Loss of sense of balance (equilibrioception), sense of temperature (thermoception), or ability to feel pain
Syphilis can also cause cardiovascular complications, such as heart disease or aneurysms. Additional complications of tertiary syphilis can include:
- Increased risk of HIV infection or worsening of existing HIV infection
- Miscarriages or stillbirths
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence)
- Destruction of soft tissue and bone
- Liver damage
- Vision loss or blindness
To prevent any of these complications from occurring, it is recommended that you contact your healthcare provider as soon as you suspect that you are infected with primary syphilis.
Syphilis Diagnosis and Testing
A syphilis specialist can diagnose your condition with a small sample (swab) from a sore, which is then analyzed in a laboratory for presence of Treponema pallidum bacteria.
Other tests to detect syphilis--or later complications of the disease--can include:
- A blood test to detect presence of anti-syphilis antibodies
- Chest X-ray of ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram) to detect cardiovascular issues
- Computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain for neurosyphilis
- Spinal tap to test cerebrospinal fluid for further neurosyphilis testing
Treatment of Primary or Secondary Syphilis
Treatment for primary or secondary syphilis usually requires a single shot of an antibiotic like penicillin, while later stages may require several shots. If you are allergic to penicillin, another antibiotic like azithromycin may be used instead. These shots work by killing the Treponema pallidum bacteria, preventing the disease from progressing.
Treatment of Tertiary Syphilis
If you are experiencing symptoms of the tertiary stage, antibiotic shots may prevent the condition from worsening. However, you can still develop other conditions, so treatments for the tertiary stage will most likely revolve around addressing your secondary symptoms and conditions.
During Syphilis Treatment
During syphilis treatment, it is important to abstain from sexual activity until all of your chancres have healed. If you are sexually active, your partner should be treated as well.
After Syphilis Treatment
After completing syphilis treatment, your healthcare provider may recommend that you receive periodic blood tests to monitor the antibiotic treatment and undergo screening for HIV.
There are numerous ways to prevent syphilis, such as abstaining from sex altogether and committing to one partner who is not infected. Using latex condoms to prevent contact with sores can also reduce the risk of contracting syphilis, as can avoiding alcohol or drugs that may cloud your judgment during sex.
Contact Santa Monica Syphilis Specialist Today!
If you suspect that you have syphilis, you should undergo screening as soon as possible. If you have syphilis and your sores have healed, the disease is still in your body and can be treated with antibiotics. To schedule a consultation with a Santa Monica STC clinic specializing in syphilis treatment, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Vitality Integrative Medicine online.
Vitality Integrative Medicine
Address4849 Van Nuys Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tue: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm