Though it’s extremely treatable, syphilis is a very misunderstood sexually transmitted disease, with many people who are infected with it simply too embarrassed to talk about it. While syphilis is no walk in the park, it can be fully cured with a simple course of antibiotics, which is good since untreated syphilis can cause irreversible damage to many systems of the body, including the brain and nervous system.

Many people at risk of developing syphilis have questions about the disease and how it can be treated. Here are some of the most common questions about syphilis and their answers:

Can a person die from syphilis?

Untreated syphilis can lead to brain damage, blindness and paralysis. If the bacterial infection is allowed to persist, it can spread through the bloodstream, causing permanent damage to the brain, eyes, nervous system, bones and skin.

Can syphilis be cured completely?

Yes, syphilis is a very easily treatable and curable bacterial infection. But it’s important to get treated as soon as possible so that the infection is not able to spread to other parts of your body. It is possible to contract syphilis again after it’s been treated if you continue to engage in unprotected or risky sexual activities.

How long does it take to die of syphilis?

Syphilis can live inside your body for many years without showing any symptoms, and even those whose bodies do show obvious signs, such as sores, it’s not uncommon to go years without any flare-ups. But untreated syphilis will simply spread over time throughout the body, carried in the bloodstream, eating away at various systems of the body over as many as 30 years.

How long can you live with syphilis?

Death from syphilis isn’t a pretty picture, so it’s important to get treated as soon as you are diagnosed with syphilis, but it’s not uncommon for people to live for decades without knowing they have it. That’s because every person’s body is different, and syphilis often is mistaken for other conditions.

What is the first sign of syphilis?

Many people show no obvious signs of syphilis, but often the first thing people notice are sores on their body where they first got the infection, usually around their genitals or anus. These sores can easily be mistaken for pimples or other imperfections on the skin.

Can you get syphilis from kissing?

Syphilis is highly contagious, and it is possible to contract the bacterial infection through deep kissing, though vaginal and anal sex are the most common ways to get it.

Is syphilis 100% curable?

While syphilis is easily resolved via antibiotics, it is possible for the disease to recur if a person is exposed to it again after they were treated. But if the disease has been present in your body for some time, that treatment won’t undo any damage that was done.

What are the symptoms of syphilis in a man?

In both men and women, usually the first obvious sign of syphilis is a sore called a chancre. These appear wherever the infection originally entered your body, usually the genitals or anus. They can appear in places where they’re difficult to see or feel, such as underneath the foreskin.

Would I know if I had syphilis?

Not necessarily. Most people who have syphilis are unaware they are infected, which is one reason why the disease is so common and easily spread. Often, symptoms of syphilis are mild, and it’s easy to mistake the first signs of the infection, sores, for other issues like pimples or ingrown hairs.

Who died from syphilis?

Several figures from history are said to have had syphilis, including several who purportedly died from it, including Al Capone, Adolf Hitler, VI Lenin and Oscar Wilde. Thanks to the availability of antibiotics, syphilis is less likely to be fatal today.

Can you get syphilis without being sexually active?

It’s not possible to transmit syphilis to another person without having intimate contact, but it’s not necessary to have vaginal or anal intercourse to completion for the infection to be passed along. Though it’s not common, it is possible to transmit syphilis through making out, or deep kissing.

What are the 3 stages of syphilis?

The three main stages of syphilis are primary (small outbreak of sores), secondary (widespread rashes, fever, sore throat, headache, fatigue) and tertiary (damage to heart, blood vessels, brain, nervous system). It’s also possible for syphilis to be latent within the body, meaning a person is infected but showing no visible symptoms.

What should I eat if I have syphilis?

Treatment with antibiotics is the only way to cure syphilis, but it may be possible to adjust your diet to help alleviate a few of the symptoms of the infection while you undergo treatment. While your body fights off the syphilis infection, be sure to consume B12-rich foods, such as salmon, tuna and organic yogurt. You may also notice that you have nausea or digestive distress because of your syphilis, so consider drinking ginger tea, which can soothe the digestive tract.

Does syphilis still exist?

Not only does syphilis still exist, rates of infection are on the rise in most places across the United States. The good news is that syphilis is an incredibly treatable condition that can be cleared up with a course of antibiotics.

How long can you live with syphilis?

Many people who have syphilis are unaware they have it, as they are not able to see or feel any sores that have developed. It’s possible to live for years without having any obvious signs of syphilis, and some people can remain in the latent stages of the disease forever, but the longer you go without getting syphilis treated, the greater your chances of having permanent damage.

How long does it take to cure syphilis?

Syphilis in its early stages can often be cured with a single shot of penicillin, though it’s important to avoid any sexual contact until all sores are fully healed. Those with late-stage latent syphilis may require three doses of penicillin over three weeks to cure their syphilis.

Can I have syphilis without symptoms?

Most people who have syphilis don’t realize it because they don’t see or feel any obvious signs or they mistake the signs for something else. Plus, those who have syphilis will not always have active sores, so it’s not uncommon to go extended periods without any obvious outward signs of syphilis.

Can you get syphilis non sexually?

No, the only way to contract syphilis is through intimate contact of some type, whether vaginal or anal sex, or (less commonly) through oral sex or making out/deep kissing.

What does syphilis look like in the beginning?

The first obvious signs of syphilis are usually chancres, or small, round sores that develop in the spot where syphilis first entered the body. Many people mistake these sores for other issues, and still others don’t see or feel them, as they often develop in places that aren’t obvious, such as underneath the foreskin.

Is syphilis curable or treatable?

Everyone who tests positive for syphilis should be treated as soon as possible with antibiotics, which will kill the active bacterial infection, and patients should abstain from any sexual contact until all sores in their body have fully healed.

Will amoxicillin cure syphilis?

Penicillin is the preferred treatment for syphilis, but many doctors prescribe amoxicillin as an alternative for patients who can’t take penicillin for whatever reason.