Lues; Cupid's disease; Syph
Antibiotics are an effective treatment for syphilis. The antibiotic of choice is penicillin. The dose and how it's given (into a muscle or into a vein) depend on the stage of syphilis. Doxycycline may be used as an alternative treatment in individuals who are allergic to penicillin.
Several hours after treatment of early stages of syphilis, you may have a reaction called Jarish-Herxheimer reaction. Symptoms of this reaction include:
- General feeling of being ill
- General joint aches
- General muscle aches
These symptoms usually disappear within 24 hours.
You must have follow-up blood tests at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months to make sure the infection is gone. You should avoid sexual conduct until two follow-up tests show that the infection has been cured. Syphilis is extremely contagious through sexual contact in the primary and secondary stages.
Syphilis is a reportable infection. That means that doctors must report any cases of syphilis to public health authorities, so that potentially infected sexual partners may be identified and treated.
With prompt treatment and follow-up care, syphilis can be cured.
Late-stage syphilis can lead to long-term health problems, despite therapy.
Complications of untreated syphilis include:
- Damage to the skin and bones
- Heart and blood vessel problems, including inflammation and aneurysms of the aorta
Calling your health care provider
Notify your health care provider if you develop signs or symptoms of syphilis. Several conditions may have similar symptoms, so you will need to have a complete medical exam.
Also call your health care provider if you have had sexual contact with someone who has syphilis.
Review Date: 05/30/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.