The stages of syphilis are categorized as primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. It is important to note that neurosyphilis may occur at any stage of infection. Meningitis is the most common neurological presentation in early syphilis. It typically occurs in the secondary stage, arising within one year of initial infection. The symptoms are similar to other forms of meningitis.
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There are several testing options when it comes to diagnosing neurosyphilis. Physical exam To find out if you have neurosyphilis, your doctor may start by checking your normal muscle reflexes and determining whether any of your muscles have atrophied lost muscle tissue. Blood test A blood test can detect middle-stage neurosyphilis. There are a variety of blood tests that will show whether you currently have syphilis or if you had an infection in the past. Spinal tap If your doctor suspects you have late-stage neurosyphilis, they will also order a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap.
This procedure will provide a sample of the fluid around your brain and spinal cord. Your doctor will use this sample to determine the extent of the infection and plan your treatment. Imaging tests Your doctor might order a CT scan. This is a series of X-rays that allows your body to be seen in cross sections and from different angles.
You might also need an MRI scan. An MRI is a test in which you lie in a tube containing a strong magnet. The machine sends radio waves through your body, allowing your doctor to see detailed images of your organs.
These tests allow your doctor to look at your spinal cord, brain, and brainstem for evidence of the disease. Treatment options for neurosyphilis The antibiotic penicillin is used to treat syphilis and neurosyphilis.
It may be injected or taken orally. The usual regimen lasts 10 to 14 days. The antibiotics probenecid and ceftriaxone are often used along with penicillin. Depending on your case, you may need to stay in the hospital while being treated. After that, you should have blood tests every year for three years following your treatment. Your doctor will continue to monitor your cerebrospinal fluid levels with spinal taps every six months. Neurosyphilis is especially common in people who have HIV.
This is because syphilitic sores make it easier to become infected with HIV. Treponema pallidum interacts with HIV in a way that makes it harder to treat the syphilis infection. Those with neurosyphilis and HIV usually need more penicillin injections and have a lower chance for complete recovery.
Long-term outlook Your long-term outlook depends on what type of neurosyphilis you have and how early your doctor diagnoses it. Penicillin will treat your infection and prevent it from doing any more damage, but it cannot repair the damage already done.
However, if your case is mild, antibiotics may be enough to return you to full health. Tips to prevent syphilis The first step in neurosyphilis treatment is preventing syphilis. Since syphilis is an STI, your best option is to practice safe sex. You can discuss this with your doctor. Condoms can reduce the chance of contracting syphilis.
However, syphilis can be contracted through touching genitals outside of the area covered by the condom. An initial sore or sores at the infection site may appear a few weeks or months after contracting the disease. Although these sores heal on their own, the disease can remain. Later, a rash of rough, not itchy, reddish brown spots will appear at the infection site or on another part of the body. If you plan on being sexually active, get tested for STIs on a regular basis.
If you have syphilis, you can pass it on to others, including your unborn baby. Other symptoms of syphilis include: swollen lymph glands.
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