Understanding Chlamydia Infections (Video)

Chlamydia infections is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

Transmission

The disease is mainly transmitted through sexual contact and it is more common among people who are sexually active and with multiple sexual partners. Using condoms during sexual activity can help lower the risk of Chlamydia infections. Young women who preferred the use of oral contraceptives over condoms have higher risk of getting infected with the disease. Oral contraceptives are only meant for preventing unwanted pregnancy and do not provide protection against STDs.

Women who practice frequent douching also have higher risk of getting the infection because douching alter the normal vaginal chemical balance responsible for maintaining healthy vagina. Altering the normal pH balance of the vagina increases the risk of infection caused by the bacterium.

Symptoms

In women Chlamydia infections can infect the lower reproductive tract and the upper reproductive tract. Infection of the lower reproductive tract most commonly affect the urethral tube causing inflammation known as urethritis and causing infection on the cervix known as cervicitis. In both cases when symptoms do occur, women may experience mild irritation or itching of the genital area, burning sensation during urination, and a slight vaginal discharge.

Infection of the upper reproductive tract or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when Chlamydia trachomatis and other bacterium infection spread from the cervix upward and infecting the uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the ovaries.

In most cases when symptoms do occur, women may experience disrupted menstrual periods, fever, nausea, chronic pelvic pain, painful urination, pain during intercourse, vomiting, and headache. When PID is left untreated can lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes which can cause infertility and sterility in some women.

In men Chlamydia infections most commonly affect the epididymis causing infection know as epididymitis. When symptoms do occur, men may experience burning sensation during urination, discharge from the penis, inflammation on the scrotal skin, testicular pain, swelling in the scrotum and infertility.

Most men and women who are infected with Chlamydia experience few or no symptoms for weeks or months. The only way to be certain is to get tested in health clinic by providing urine sample or vaginal swabs.

Chlamydia trachomatis is also the most common cause of eye infections in newborns that can lead to blindness. Trachoma is a contagious form of conjunctivitis associated with Chlamydia trachomatis that causes inflammation on the inner surface of the eyelid. Many infected mother with no symptoms can transmit the infection to the new born during childbirth.

Treatment

Chlamydia trachomatis can be treated with seven days of doxycycline taken orally or single 1 gram dose of azithromycin. Since Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections often coexists together, seven days of ofloxacin is effective in treating both Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.

An alternative drug such as erythromycin and azithromycin can be use by pregnant women and others who cannot take doxycycline and ofloxacin. Newborns that are at risk of developing Chlamydia conjunctivitis from infected mother can be treated with erythromycin or tetracycline ointment when apply on the eyes of the infants immediately after birth.

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