Dementia warning: The STI known to cause cognitive decline – it is on the rise
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Dementia describes a set of degenerative symptoms associated with the formation of abnormal protein in the brain. Occasional, neuro-degeneration follows damage to the spinal cord and peripheral nervous tissue. Certain STIs, such as syphilis, have been shown to contribute to this injury.
An early report published in the peer-reviewed journal Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria stated: “Dementia is one of the manifestations of late syphilis and it is characterised by cognitive deterioration and behaviour disturbances.”
This occurs when neurosyphilis starts to affect the brain and spinal cord, typically presenting as dementia or bowel/bladder dysfunction.
Neurosyphilis is a complication that typically afflicts people with syphilis that is left untreated.
According to the NHS, the most common way of contracting syphilis is by having unprotected sex.
The journal Neurology states that the incidence of infectious disease generally decreased after its appearance in the twentieth century, thanks to the diffusion of treatment.
But latest figures suggest incident rates are once again on the rise.
In fact, reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis were up seven percent compared to 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among newborns, cases of syphilis went up by 15 percent between 2019 and 2020, but the rate has now increased by 235 percent since 2016.
The disease can cause serious and potentially life-threatening problems if left untreated, yet symptoms can be mild or hard to notice in the initial stages.
What’s more, the warning signs tend to change over time or may come and go.
This includes painless sores which emerge on the penis or vagina, which can also appear around the mouth and lips.
Sometimes, grey warts will appear instead of sores, accompanied by a rash on the palms of the hands and feet.
Flu-like symptoms are also common, as are headaches, tiredness, swollen glands and patchy hair loss on the head.
Lenstore’s optometrist expert, Roshni Patel, explained: “Syphilis is an STI that can cause rashes and sores to appear on the body.
“Affecting the whole body once infected, the virus can cause damage that often can’t be preserved by treatment if caught too late.
“When syphilis affects the eyes it can cause severe redness and inflammation, optic nerve disease and even lead to blindness.
“There are ways in which to reduce your risk of developing an STD.”
The use of condoms and oral sex barriers offers the best chances of staying protected against STIs.
Getting tested regularly at your local health clinic will also assist in catching them early if you have an STD.
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