What are the symptoms of syphilis in males? And more health questions Canadians are asking this week

Web searches for "signs and symptoms of syphilis" increased by 30 per cent

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Man searching online for syphilis symptoms. (Image via Getty Images)
What are Canadians searching for online? The answers might surprise you. (Image via Getty Images)

Staying healthy is a top of mind concern for Canadians. Before many of us head to the doctor with our concerns, we often turn to the internet to get a primer on what's been ailing us.

While many of us feel like we're the only ones asking questions about our sexual health online, you're not alone.

This week Canadian web searches for "signs of syphilis in males" increased by 30 per cent. Below, we break down the basics of the most popular health-related searches in Canada this week — including syphilis, strep throat and moon face.

What is syphilis: Signs and symptoms

Syphilis is a curable bacterial infection that can be spread through sexual contact that can be treated with antibiotics. It's possible to be infected with syphilis for a long period of time before symptoms appear, and while there are four stages of syphilis that vary in severity (primary, secondary, latent and tertiary), they can overlap one another and appear out of order.

According to experts, the symptoms for men and women are mostly the same. The first sign is a small chancre sore that occurs where the syphilis bacteria enters the body (the penis, the anus, the vulva, inside the vagina or in the mouth). These round sores can be open or wet and are often painless; they typically appear three weeks after infection and heal on their own within six weeks.

Syphilis can be latent in the body for years before symptoms progress to more severe, potentially life-threatening stages. (Image via Getty Images)
Syphilis can be latent in the body for years before symptoms progress to more severe, potentially life-threatening stages. (Image via Getty Images)

The second stage of syphilis can include a rash appearing on the stomach, back, the palms of the hands and bottoms of your feet. The rash can occur when chancres appear, but typically develops afterwards. While the rask doesn’t usually itch, it can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms, the appearance of wart-like sores on the genitals or in the mouth and hair loss.

While these early symptoms of syphilis can often disappear on their own (the latent stage), they will come back without treatment. The latent stage can last for years, making it important to have yourself regularly tested for STI's and visit your doctor if you notice anything that looks unusual — chanchre sores can often look like ingrown hairs or pimples.

If left untreated, syphilis can cause serious long-term health issues that could become life-threatening. Tertiary or late syphilis can cause damage to the heart, brain, liver, bones and joints, nerves, blindness and paralysis.

What are the signs of strep throat in children?

Cold and flu symptoms have taken over households across Canada — but some parents are wondering if their child could be fighting something more serious. Searches for strep throat symptoms in children increased by more than 4,600 per cent this week, as invasive Group A streptococcal disease makes headlines.

A very sore throat can be a sign of strep throat. (Image via Getty Images)
A very sore throat can be a sign of strep throat. (Image via Getty Images)

While invasive Group A streptococcal disease is not the same thing as strep throat, it is caused by the same bacteria, Group A Streptococcus. Invasive Group A streptococcal disease occurs when the bacteria spreads from the throat into other parts of the body that it doesn't normally infect, like the bloodstream, soft tissue or even fluid around the brain. Invasive Group A streptococcal disease can become life-threatening very quickly. Public Health Ontario recently reported 48 deaths from October to December 2023, including six children under the age of nine.

Strep throat is more common in children than adults, and presents as a very sore throat that causes trouble swallowing, fever and a swollen or tender neck. In some cases, you might be able to see pus or white patches on your child’s tonsils or tiny red patches on the roof of your child’s mouth. Some less common symptoms of strep throat can include headache, vomiting, stomach pain or a rash.

Canadians are asking: 'What is Moon Face?'

Canadians were curious to learn about "moon face: or facial swelling. The term experienced a 110 per cent spike in web searches this week — and while it could refer to a puffy face or a long-term side effect of steroid use (like prednisone) or water retention, it could be something else.

Cushing syndrome, a hormonal disorder caused by heightened levels of cortisol. Too much cortisol for a prolonged period of time can cause weight gain in the face (moon face), weight gain in the abdomen while arms and legs remain slim, a "buffalo hump" which is a fatty lump between the shoulders.

Moon face could also be a symptom of hypothyroidism, which can also cause weight gain, depression, sensitivity to cold and fatigue. Blood tests can help you gauge your hormone levels and can help your doctor formulate a treatment plan.

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