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H
ealth Hint #259
 

Excerpted from "A Year of Health Hints"
365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer



Syphilis is sometimes called "pox" or "bad blood." Left untreated, syphilis is one of the most serious sexually transmitted diseases, leading to heart failure, blindness, insanity, or death. Syphilis can progress slowly, through three stages, over a period of many years. When detected early, however, syphilis can be cured. Be alert for the following symptoms.

Primary Stage.
A large, painless ulcerlike sore known as a chancre occurs four to six weeks after infection and generally appears around the area of sexual contact. The chancre disappears within a few weeks.

Secondary Stage.
Within a month after the end of the primary stage, a widespread skin rash may appear, cropping up on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and sometimes around the mouth and nose.Swollen lymph nodes, fever, and flu-like symptoms may also occur, and small patches of hair may fall out of the scalp, beard, eyelashes, and eyebrows.

Latent Stage.
Once syphilis reaches this stage, it may go unnoticed for years, quietly damaging the heart, central nervous system, muscles, and various other organs, and tissues. The resulting effects are often fatal.

If you've been exposed to syphilis or have its symptoms, see a doctor or consult your county health department. For syphilis in its early stages, treatment consists of a single injection of long-lasting penicillin. If the disease has progressed further, you'll require three consecutive weekly injections. (If you're allergic to penicillin, you'll receive an alternative antibiotic, taken orally for two to four weeks.) You should have a blood test 3, 6, and 12 months after treatment, to be sure the disease is completely cured.

Once treatment is complete, you're no longer contagious. But if syphilis is left untreated, you're contagious for up to one year after you first contract the infection).

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Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.