A man suffering from pain in eyes and headaches was diagnosed with the sexually transmitted disease, syphilis which affected his nervous system. According to the case study published in the journal BMJ Case Reports, a 39-year-old man accused doctors in an emergency clinic. His eyesight was normal but the pain got severe as he moved his eyes. He was experiencing a headache for the last three weeks.
Medical tests revealed the swelling in the optic nerves but the scan didn’t show anything unusual, wrote by author Dr. Jason Yosar, who works at the ophthalmology department at Sydney Eye Hospital, Australia.
A blood test revealed that the antibodies against syphilis bacteria were found in the blood.
Antibiotics through drip were given to him for two weeks. The swelling in the right optic nerve gets reduced after a month while that in the left optic nerve got worse. Nevertheless, his vision was not affected and he had no longer signs and symptoms of any kind of nerve problems in his eyes.
The doctor diagnosed the neurosyphilis which had affected his nervous system. Syphilis has four different stages, primary, secondary, latent and tertiary. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, neurosyphilis can progress at any stage. Its symptoms include severe headache, paralysis, numbness, the problem in coordinating movements of muscles and dementia.
Syphilis is one of the sexually transmitted diseases, spread when the individual becomes in contact with a sore during oral, vaginal or oral sex. The sore develop around or on the vaginal, penis, rectum, and anus, inside the mouth or on the lips. Syphilis can be passed to the fetus by the carrier mother.
The case report showed that the man had random unprotected sex with many male partners and was in an open relationship. I t was the second case reported in medical literature in which both the patient’s eyes were damaged but they didn’t have HIV.
In the United States, the syphilis was almost knocked out but cases are now growing particularly among men having sex with men. As per CDC, these cases have increased by 14.4% between to 35,063 both primary and secondary cases in 2017 and 2018, 64% among men having sex with the same gender. There is increasing evidence of atypical presentations.
The CDC has recommended the correct and proper use of latex condoms during sex to avoid STDs such as syphilis.
The United States Centers for disease control and Prevention warns about syphilis that it can cause severe health issues if not treated properly.
During the primary stage, generally round and firm but pain-free sores formed at the infection site like genitals but not always. During the second stage reddish-brown rashes on the skin, fever and swollen lymph nodes formed. The symptoms of primary and secondary stages are mild and remained unnoticed as reported by the CDC.
The latent stage of syphilis has no signs and symptoms but the tertiary stage affects organs including brain and heart as well, also the nervous system can be affected and even death which occurs 10 to 30 years after the infection.