There are three stages to syphilis that can, often times, take years to appear, leaving the person infected without even realizing it. The three stages, primary, secondary, and late or latent, each carry their own set of symptoms that can help a doctor diagnose the patient with this disease. However, even in the secondary and latent stages, it can be difficult to realize there is an infection, which is doubly dangerous since this is the period in the disease’s life that it is transmitted to others through sores.
Primary Stage Symptoms
Between 10 to 90 days after infection (average is 21 days), the first sore known as a chancre will appear. Typically, the primary stage brings only one original sore; however, there are cases where there is more than one sore. The sore is typically small, round, painless and firm. The chancre will appear wherever the syphilis gained entry into the body. This sore lasts for 3 to 6 weeks and typically heals itself without need of treatment. This doesn’t mean treatment isn’t required, though. If treatment isn’t administered properly, the infection will progress to the secondary stage after this initial sore disappears.
The secondary stage symptoms are more serious than the single sore in the primary stage. A rash typically appears on different parts of the body. While it is not an itching rash, it is important to note that this rash is directly connected to syphilis and usually appears while the chancre is healing or weeks after it is already gone. This rash can appear on the feet as rough, red or reddish brown. The difficult thing about the rashes is that they are, often times, so faint that they are barely noticeable, which can lead to latent stage symptoms. Other typical symptoms of secondary syphilis are weight loss, muscle aches, headaches, hair loss, sore throat, fever, swollen lymph glands, etc. While the symptoms will disappear with or without treatment, if there is no treatment, the disease will progress to the latent stage.
Latent Stage Symptoms
The latent stage is the hidden stage of syphilis because there are very few physical symptoms. It can hide for 10-20 years without the infected person realizing they have anything going on. It is during this stage that damage is done to internal organs. The brain and nerves can be severely damaged which can start leading to dementia, numbness, paralysis, and poor muscle movements. The eyes become weak which leads to gradual blindness. The heart vessels, liver, bones, and joints all become affected. By this stage, the damage might be so serious that death is the only outcome.
The ultimate thing to consider if syphilis is a possibility is getting a syphilis test. By getting checked and tested, a doctor can determine if syphilis is the problem and can then properly administer a treatment. Without treatment, the disease will progress from a simple sore all the way to serious problems such as brain damage, liver damage and bone damage to name a few.