General paresis is an impairment of mental function caused by damage to the brain from untreated syphilis.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
General paresis is one form of
The syphilis infection can appear in many different ways and damages many different nerves of the brain. This damage can cause:
- Abnormal mental function including
hallucinationsand false ideas (delusions)
- Brief, sharp, "lightning" pains that occur with
- Decreased mental function
- Eye changes and abnormal pupil response
- Mood changes
- Overactive reflexes
- Personality changes
- Speech changes
General paresis usually begins about 15 - 20 years after the syphilis infection. Risks include syphilis infection and infection with other sexually transmitted diseases, such as
Syphilis infections are passed through sexual contact with an infected person, but may also be transmitted by nonsexual contact.