Tertiary syphilis

Tertiary Syphilis

Tertiary Syphilis, also known as late-stage syphilis, is the most severe stage of the disease. It occurs when the infection has been left untreated for years, or when it has been treated but not enough to fully cure the infection. In tertiary syphilis, damage either to the brain or the cardiovascular system can become permanent, and if left untreated, the affected individual can succumb to multiple organ failure.

In individuals with tertiary syphilis, the main cause of death comes from cardiovascular syphilis. This form of infection causes swelling and scarring of the walls of the aorta, leading to a build-up of calcium deposits and a blockage of the coronary arteries. This can cause chest pain, arrhythmia, heart failure and an increased risk of cardiovascular events such as stroke.

Other symptoms of tertiary syphilis include:

  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Bloody urine
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin rashes
  • Joint pain
  • Vision changes
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue

The only way to prevent damage from tertiary syphilis is to get treatment as soon as possible after infection. It is important to understand that the symptoms of the disease can take up to 10-20 years to become apparent. However, when caught in the early stages, tertiary syphilis can be treated with several types of antibiotics.

If you think you might have been exposed to syphilis, or if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you should contact your healthcare provider for testing and treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment of syphilis can greatly reduce the risk of developing health complications down the line, including death.