Syphilis is an unwanted intruder that has hung around the human species for several thousand years. It's a sexually transmitted infection that appears in different stages. If it's not treated early, the consequences can be life-threatening.
Syphilis tests are the key to early diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. But how can you avoid catching syphilis? Is it curable? How long will symptoms last?
Let's take a closer look at syphilis testing to answer these questions and more.
What Is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is common, and the infection rate has been increasing in recent years. The Treponema pallidum bacterium causes syphilis.
Syphilis is one of the infectious diseases that a pregnant woman can pass on to her unborn child, known as congenital syphilis.
Risk Factors for Syphilis
Syphilis is almost always spread through sexual contact. During sex, transmission occurs through coming in contact with an infected person's sore.
The most common ways of contracting syphilis are through:
- Unprotected sex
- Sex with multiple partners
- Men who have sex with men
- Already having an HIV infection
All forms of sexual activity can put you at risk of catching syphilis. Men who have sex with men are at the highest risk of catching syphilis.
Causes of Syphilis
Syphilis is a bacterial infection. When an uninfected person comes into contact with a chancre, an ulcer on the genitals, they can catch the disease. This typically happens through the mucus membranes or minor cuts on the body.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Syphilis?
Syphilis has four main stages if left untreated. It can be hard to diagnose syphilis without screening tests, as it can look like other diseases.
Syphilis first shows itself with a single chancre - a small painless ulcer. This can appear on the penis, scrotum, vagina, anus, or mouth. This is highly contagious and even kissing can spread the disease at this stage.
Although a single chancre is common, sufferers can get many sores. If untreated, it will develop into the secondary stage.
The secondary stage shows up with skin rashes and lesions in the mouth, vagina, or anus. The skin rashes can appear on any part of the body. They may be painless, but are rough and have a red appearance.
Other symptoms include:
- Swollen glands
- Lesions in the groin, mouth, or under the arms
- Muscle aches
- Weight loss
As with the primary stage, these symptoms will pass in time. But the body cannot cure itself of syphilis. If you do not get treatment, it will move into the latent or tertiary stage.
Once the secondary stage is over, the syphilis infection may lie dormant for a period of time. This stage can last for years.
Tertiary syphilis can occur many years after the initial infection. The bacteria now start to affect organ systems, such as the liver, heart, vascular system, or joints. It can also affect the brain and the nervous system.
At any stage in the infection, syphilis can turn into neurosyphilis or ocular syphilis. These forms affect the nervous system and eyes respectively.
How Is Syphilis Diagnosed?
Syphilis is diagnosed using three methods. First, a physical examination checking the outward symptoms of the disease.
Secondly, syphilis tests will be run. Positive results on a syphilis blood test will show whether you have an active infection or have had syphilis in the past. Finally, if you have a chancre, your doctor may take a sample of fluid for testing.
The Lab Tests to Screen, Diagnose, and Monitor Syphilis
The key screening test for syphilis is the RPR (Monitor) test. This looks for the presence of antibodies and can detect syphilis in people who have the disease. This can also be used for monitoring the disease and detecting reinfection in the future.
Another test that is often used in conjunction with RPR is the FTA-ABS #4112. This test is not suitable for monitoring the effectiveness of treatment. However, it can be useful for initial diagnosis.
Frequently Asked Questions About Syphilis and Lab Testing for Syphilis
There are lots of rumors and stories online about syphilis. The most frequently asked questions about syphilis and syphilis lab tests include:
- What should you not do if you have syphilis?
If you have syphilis, you should avoid any activity that could pass it on to another person. This would include having unprotected sex. You should also avoid using recreational drugs.
- Is syphilis 100% curable?
It is possible to rid the body of the bacteria that causes the syphilis infection. In this way, it is 100% curable. That said, the treatment to clear the infection will not reverse the damage the condition has already done.
- How long does it take for syphilis to go away after treatment?
If syphilis is detected early, it can be treated with a single injection of penicillin. If your doctor suspects that you have more long-term syphilis, a longer and more potent course of treatment may be needed. You will need to have further syphilis tests to check whether the infection has been cured.
Get Answers Fast With Syphilis Tests from Ulta Lab Tests
The only accurate way to know if you have this disease is through syphilis tests. They are quick, with results coming back in 2-4 days. Syphilis lab tests can help you know what you're dealing with, so you can start the right treatment as soon as possible.
Benefits of Syphilis Lab Testing with Ulta Lab Tests
Ulta Lab Tests offers syphilis tests that are highly accurate and reliable so you can make informed decisions about your health. Here are a few great things to love about Ulta Lab Tests:
- You'll get secure and confidential results
- You don't need health insurance
- You don't need a physician's referral
- You'll get affordable pricing
- We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee
Order your syphilis lab tests today and your results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours for most tests.
Take control with Ulta Lab Tests today!