Patient Education

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Neurosyphilis

Topic Overview

Neurosyphilis refers to the infection of the brain and spinal cord by the syphilis bacteria. This can lead to destruction in many areas of the nervous system, causing loss of function of a person's arms or legs, loss of vision, and altered mental abilities. Neurosyphilis can affect many different body systems and may develop over an extended period of time. Symptoms of neurosyphilis usually include:

  • Personality changes, such as confusion and irritability.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Vision problems.
  • Decreased ability to concentrate.
  • Memory loss.
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
  • Tremor of the fingers and lips.
  • Mild headaches.
  • Disorderly appearance.

Other symptoms may include:

  • A wide gait.
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands or feet.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Joint destruction because of lack of sensation (Charcot's joint).
  • Inability to control urine or stool (urinary or fecal incontinence).

Most forms of neurosyphilis take years to develop and can be life-threatening. People who are also infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) tend to develop signs of neurosyphilis sooner.

Antibiotic treatment cures the syphilis infection and stops the progress of neurosyphilis. But the damage that has already occurred may not be reversed.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: February 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kevin C. Kiley MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Dr. Habel

Welcome to our practice Dr. Andrea Habel Dr. Habel is a Senior Resident Family Physician who will be treating patients at our clinic throughout the month of August!  Dr. Habel attended the University of Washington School of Medicine (WWAMI Program) and is completing her residency at University of Colorado Swedish Family Medicine in Denver. She is also a current active member of the Wyoming Army National Guard. Dr. Habel can see you or anyone in your family for all your healthcare needs including physicals (sports and wellness),… Continue Reading