Neurosyphilis, a potentially life-threatening complication of untreated syphilis that spreads to the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and meninges (the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).
While not everyone with syphilis develops it, the risk significantly increases with delayed treatment.
In other words, Neurosyphilis is a serious neurological complication of untreated syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum.
It occurs when the bacteria infects the central nervous system (CNS): such as the brain, spinal cord, or the membranes surrounding them.
Who can get neurosyphilis?
While not everyone with syphilis develops neurosyphilis, those with untreated syphilis, compromised immune systems, or multiple/anonymous sexual partners are at significantly higher risk, even decades later. This risk increases sharply with delayed or no treatment.
People with HIV are at an increased risk of developing neurosyphilis.
Neurosyphilis can manifest in various forms, with symptoms appearing years, even decades, after the initial syphilis infection.
What causes of Neurosyphilis:
Neurosyphilis is caused by the bacterium treponema pallidum, the bacteria that causes syphilis.
While anyone with untreated syphilis can develop neurosyphilis, it's most common in people who have had the infection for many years without treatment.
What are the symptoms of Neurosyphilis:
Neurosyphilis can present with a wide range of symptoms, depending on the affected area of the nervous system and the duration.
Early symptoms of Neurosyphilis includes: Headache, fever, stiff neck, confusion, seizures, vision problems, hearing loss.
While the late symptoms of Neurosyphilis from 10-30 years after infection includes: Dementia, bladder and bowel control problems, numbness and weakness, difficulty walking and coordinating movements, personality changes, psychosis, etc.
What are the stages of Neurosyphilis:
Neurosyphilis itself doesn't have distinct stages like the main stages of syphilis (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary). However, it can manifest in different ways depending on the areas of the nervous system affected, which can be broadly categorized into:
⦁ Asymptomatic: This is the most common form, with no noticeable symptoms. However, the bacteria are still present and can cause damage even without presenting symptoms.
⦁ Meningitic: This form involves inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can include headache, fever, stiff neck, confusion, and seizures.
⦁ Meningovascular: This form affects the blood vessels of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can include stroke, dementia, and seizures.
⦁ Tabes dorsalis: This form affects the dorsal columns of the spinal cord, which are responsible for sensory information. Symptoms can include shooting pains, loss of balance and coordination, and bladder and bowel control problems.
⦁ General paresis: This is the most severe form of neurosyphilis, affecting the brain and causing progressive dementia, personality changes, and psychosis.
Below is a table summarizing the different forms of neurosyphilis:
Neurosyphilis treatment medicine in Accra, Ghana:
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