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Syphilis is an infection that is transmitted through direct exposure with a person who has the disease, in most cases during the process of sexual act. Syphilis is considered to be one of the most hazardous sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The quantity of people suffering from syphilis in the United States considerably reduced between the mid 1940s and 2000 (from 100,000 cases to nearly 6,000). Notwithstanding, CDC reports, that approximately 55,400 people in the United States receive syphilis infections every year. Syphilis is a consequence of bacterial infection of the genital tract by the bacterium Treponema pallidum (Communicable Disease Management Protocol, 2007).

Transfer of the disease typically happens during the process of anal, oral or vaginal sex. Treponema pallidum goes from one to another by means of direct exposure with the chancre (so called open sore) which becomes visible during the primary stage, mucous membrane at the secondary stage and in rare cases at the latent period. Sores mostly appear on the exterior genitals, anus, rectum, or vagina (Communicable Disease Management Protocol, 2007). Additionally, sores can appear on the lips or around the mouth. Treponema pallidum usually gets into the body by means of mucous membranes, which locate around the genitals and urinary system.

Sometimes, syphilis can be transmitted to another person by virtue of protracted kissing or tight bodily exposure. In spite of the fact that this disease is dispersed from wounds, the great amount of those wounds goes unacknowledged. Often the contaminated person is unsuspecting about the illness and unconsciously transfers it to his or her sexual partner. Even more, sometimes it can happen that syphilis gets into the body through apertures in the skin, for example through cuts or scratches. Syphilis can also be a result of doctor’s carelessness, for instance, when they utilize already used by an infectious person needle (McKesson Health Solutions LLC, 2004). Blood transfusion is another reason that often becomes unavoidable in bacteria transmitting. Though, the last reason of contamination is considered to be very rare, since all donor blood in the United States and Canada is examined for some sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A woman carrying a child suffering from syphilis can transmit the bacteria through the placenta and spread the disease to her baby either during the pregnancy or delivery.

The first symptom of syphilis is traditionally a sore, or in other words, chancre, which is pain-free and occurs on or around the genitals; however it can appear somewhere else, such as mouth or anus (McKesson Health Solutions LLC, 2004). It may go together with the swollen glands, which progress during a week after the initial sore started. When the sore appears, a person is said to reach the primary stage of syphilis. The sore may vanish by itself within 1 to 5 weeks, even without medical treatment, however the disease remains in the body.

The secondary stage of syphilis initiates nearly 7 weeks after the sore first occurred. The most widespread sign in this stage is a rash that shows up on any part of the body: hips, soles, arms, legs, palms, etc. There considered to be other signs including exhaustion, headache, loss of appetite, fever, sore throat, hoarseness, and swollen glands. These symptoms continue during 2 to 6 weeks, and usually vanish even if there was no treatment received (Kennard, 2012). 

The period which precedes the secondary stage is called latent, which is difficult to detect while there is no obvious symptoms of the disease. This stage is very dangerous because the patient cannot get any treatment until the late period of syphilis starts. The late period comes in cases when the disease is not treated for a long period of time. As a result, several complications concerning skin, central nervous system, heart or bones may arise. Consequently, these complications trigger different kinds of disability or even death (Kennard, 2012). That is why it is pivotal to give a proper treatment during the primary stage in order to avoid the appearance of later stages.

Syphilis can be treated by means of certain antibiotics including penicillin, doxycycline or tetracycline that need to be prescribed by a doctor. To avoid getting infected, one must remember some rules, such as limiting the number of sexual partners that considerably decrease the possibility of being contaminated. Moreover, one must also remember using condoms accurately with all partners that will also reduce the chances of becoming infected.

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