What Is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a disease which is highly contagious and spreads by having sexual contact with an infected person. It can be transmitted by oral, anal, or vaginal sex and sometimes even by kissing or close body contact. Hence, it is called STD, means sexually transmitted disease. This disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Treponema pallidum. It is spread by direct contact with a sore.
Earlier syphilis was considered to be a threatening disease, causing arthritis and brain damage. But according to recent studies, the number of syphilis cases is decreasing over the years. Syphilis in women has decreased significantly while it is on the increase in men, especially in homosexuals. However, a pregnant woman can pass this infection to the baby, called as congenital syphilis, resulting in abnormalities or sometimes even death.
There are four stages of this infection. The first two stages are highly infectious.
- Primary stage: This stage occurs 3-4 weeks after a person is infected with the bacteria. Sores, also called as chancre, start appearing on the sites from where the bacteria has entered the body, like genitals, anus, near the rectum, or in the mouth. The sores are generally round, firm but painless. Sores disappear even without treatment.
- Secondary stage: This stage begins around 6 weeks to 6 months after infection and can last up to 1 to 3 months. It is characterized by the appearance of skin rashes, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and fever. Symptoms subside even without treatment but infection persists.
- Latent stage: In this stage, the symptoms disappear, but the disease or infection is still in the body. Secondary symptoms may reappear after some time, and it could take years before the disease progresses into tertiary syphilis.
- Tertiary stage: This is the last stage of infection and can occur years or even decades after primary stage. Around 15-30% of syphilis infected people who don’t receive treatment will enter this stage. This stage can be life threatening.
What Are The Symptoms Of Syphilis?
Many cases of syphilis do not show any symptoms for years. However, early diagnosis is important to prevent progression into the tertiary stage.
Primary stage symptoms:
- Small, painless sores around genitals, anus, rectum or in the mouth
Secondary stage symptoms:
- Fever, headache.
- Skin rashes, swollen lymph glands.
- Weight loss, hair fall.
- Pain in joints, fatigue.
Tertiary stage symptoms:
- Mental illness.
- Infection and swelling of membranes around the brain and spinal cord.
- Blindness, deafness.
- Stroke, dementia, heart disease.
- Numbness, inflammation of blood vessels.
- Changes in personality.
What Are The Causes Of Syphilis?
- Syphilis is a bacterial infection which mostly spread while having sex with an infected partner. The bacteria commonly enter the body via abrasions, small cuts in the skin or the mucous membranes.
- It is important to note that syphilis cannot spread by using the toilet seat of an infected person, by touching doorknobs or other furniture handled by an infected person. Neither does it spread by sharing utensils, towels, bathtubs or swimming pools.
- Risk factors for this infection are:
- Having sex with many partners.
- Engaging in unprotected sex.
- Sex with HIV infected person.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Syphilis?
- Since syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease, the main way to prevent it by practicing a safe sex.
- Always use a condom if having sex with an unknown partner.
- If one of the partners is afflicted with syphilis, do not have sex until the partner is fully recovered.
- If you have had sex while having syphilis, the other partner should also get tested and treated.
- Be alert and notice if you have any sores or unusual discharge.
- Practice monogamy.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Syphilis?
- Do not have unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.
- Do not be shy or embarrassed to carry condoms.
- Do not be apprehensive about seeing a doctor if you have any doubt about STDs.
- Do not have sex with multiple partners.
What Are The Best Foods For Syphilis?
Before discussing diet for syphilis, it is very important to note that no type of right diet will provide total immunity against STDs, and the best way is to prevent them.
Since syphilis is an infection caused by bacteria, boosting body immunity becomes the number one factor in dealing with the disease. Immunity boosting foods which increase the body’s defences should be given priority and foods that are hard to digest should be removed from the diet.
So, in general, you should eat fruits and vegetables because they contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which are powerful immunity boosters. Some foods which will improve defence mechanism of body and help fight syphilis are:
- Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits contain vitamin C and antioxidants which help repair damage.
- Onions and garlic: They are full of antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
- Peppers and Apricots: Rich sources of Vitamin C.
- Members of cabbage family like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbages etc. are rich in Vitamin B, Vitamin C and other beta-carotene.
- Carrots: They have been proven to have immense antibacterial power because of their carotenoid content. They are good body purifiers.
- Spinach: Rich in iron, beta-carotene, Vitamin B and C, spinach has been known to highly stimulate the immune system.
- Nuts and Seeds like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds and pine nuts contain omega 3 fatty acids which are highly beneficial to the body. They also contain a host of other important minerals and vitamins.
- Carbohydrates like whole wheat, oats, barley and rice provide energy to the body to work against the disease. In addition, they also supply fibre to the body to improve digestion.
What Are The Worst Foods For Syphilis?
Foods which are devoid of nutrition and give the body only empty calories are to be avoided. The list includes:
- Sugary foods fill up the stomach and add calories to the body without actually giving any nutrition. Avoid ice creams, pastries, sweets.
- Fried foods are high in fat content and require more effort from the digestion system to digest the food.
- Refined and processed foods are also unhealthy because they have more sugar and less fiber and are hence taxing on the digestive system.
What Are The Medicines For Syphilis?
What Are The Tips To Manage Syphilis?
- There is only one mantra to remember if you wish to prevent this disease, and that is safe sex.
- Using condoms and being faithful to one partner will make your chances zero of contracting syphilis.