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Neurosyphilis: How You Should Tackle The Condition

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Neurosyphilis: How You Should Tackle The Condition

Obstetrics and Gynaecology | by Dr. Syed Monajatur Rahman | Published on 28/12/2022


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which usually spreads through direct contact with syphilis sores. If left untreated, the condition can spread to the other body parts, especially the brain, the disease is called neurosyphilis. The condition tends to develop gradually after 10 to 20 years of initial infection. 

Neurosyphilis is divided into different types which can become visible from time to time. Neurosyphilis types include asymptomatic neurosyphilis, meningeal neurosyphilis, meningovascular neurosyphilis, general paresis, and tabes dorsalis. Let us deep dive to know more about the condition and how you can tackle it. Please note that this blog is only for informational purposes and cannot replace the importance of a doctor’s consultation.


How Do I Know If I Have Neurosyphilis?

Neurosyphilis is a disease which occurs in the brain, spinal cord, etc. It is usually a result of prolonged syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease which affects the nervous system. Most neurosyphilis symptoms are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, a stiff neck, a headache, etc. Additionally, neurosyphilis may also cause vision or hearing loss. 

In the case of general paresis neurosyphilis, there is a high risk of patients suffering from dementia. Patients can also experience symptoms such as - 

  • Paranoia
  • Vision Problems
  • Mood swings
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Loss of coordination
  • Pain in the arms, abdomen, arms and legs. 
  • Personality changes
  • Weakened muscles
  • A loss of the ability to utilize language

Neurosyphilis: How Does it Occur? 

Neurosyphilis usually occurs about 10 to 20 years after the initial infection. However, not everyone with syphilis develops this complication. Neurosyphilis can occur in different types depending on the area it affects. Asymptomatic neurosyphilis usually occurs before symptomatic syphilis and the symptoms are usually silent.

How Is Neurosyphilis Diagnosed?

Neurosyphilis diagnosis includes a combination of physical examination and examining your medical history. Depending on the severity and type of your neurosyphilis, the doctor may further suggest diagnostic tests to confirm the infection due to neurosyphilis. 

The doctor may check your muscle reflexes and determine whether you have lost muscles or not. Apart from that, the doctor may recommend blood tests, spinal tap, and imaging tests like a CT scan, X-ray, or an MRI to allow the doctor to see detailed images of the infected organs.  

Neurosyphilis Treatment: What Are Your Options?

Doctors generally prescribe penicillin to treat syphilis and neurosyphilis. The antibiotic is either injected transvenous or taken orally. The medicine cycle usually takes 10 to 14 days. Along with penicillin, the doctor may also use a combination of probenecid and ceftriaxone depending on the severity of the condition. You may be asked to stay in the hospital during the treatment. 

The doctor may suggest blood tests during your recovery period. You’ll probably be required to undergo blood tests every three and six-month for three years following your treatment. Meanwhile, the doctor continues to monitor your cerebrospinal fluid levels and other vitals to ensure no chances of complications with spinal taps every six months.

Since neurosyphilis is especially common in people with HIV. This is usually because syphilitic sores make it easier to become infected with HIV. Those with neurosyphilis and HIV have low chances of complete recovery and usually require more penicillin injections. 



Neurosyphilis is a result of prolonged sexually transmitted disease which can cause long-term health issues. Your treatment depends on the type and severity of neurosyphilis and how early it is diagnosed. Penicillin is effective in treating the infection and preventing it from further damaging the muscles. However, if the case of mild symptoms, antibiotics are usually effective in treating the condition. 

However, it is important to get regular health check-ups to be aware of the symptoms for early diagnosis and effective treatment. Also, in case of untreated or severe neurosyphilis, your health will probably improve after treatment, but you may not return to perfect.




What are the effects of neurosyphilis?

Individuals with meningeal syphilis usually complain of frequent headaches, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. Also, there can also be loss of vision or hearing in the case of a particular type of neurosyphilis. Symptoms of meningovascular syphilis are similar to that of meningeal syphilis but affected individuals may also have a stroke. 

Whom should I consult for my neurosyphilis symptoms?

In case you are experiencing neurosyphilis symptoms, get in touch with a neurologist. A neurologist specialises in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the brain.