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Chlamydia

Definition


Disease: Chlamydia Chlamydia
Category: Infectious diseases
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Disease Definition:

The bacterial infection of the genital tract that spreads easily through sexual contact is called chlamydia. Many people don’t experience signs and symptoms of chlamydia. Even if someone does experiences signs and symptoms like pain and fluid discharge, they don’t show up right away, meaning that the person may not know that he/she has chlamydia.
Chlamydia may lead to more-serious health problems if it's left untreated, though once it’s diagnosed, treating it isn’t difficult.

Work Group:


Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes

Symptoms:

When signs and symptoms of chlamydia do occur, they start one to three weeks after being exposed to the bacteria, and even in that case, they're usually mild and passing so they are easy to be overlooked.

Here are the signs and symptoms of chlamydia:
 

  • Discharge from the penis in men
  • Testicular pain in men
  • Painful sexual intercourse in women
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Painful urination


A person should see the doctor when having any of the signs and symptoms of chlamydia, because treating chlamydia before it leads to other health problems is important. Even when one has no symptoms, he/she should see the doctor if his/her sexual partner reveals that he/she has chlamydia.

Causes:

Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis. Sexual intercourse and other intimate contact between genitals and the rectal area are the ways through which the condition usually spreads. Causing pneumonia or a serious eye infection, a mother may also spread chlamydia to her child during delivery.
It is worthwhile mentioning that the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis that causes chlamydia is different from the similarly named airborne bacterium Chlamydophila pneumoniae that causes respiratory infections, which include pneumonia.
Another sexually transmitted disease that is called lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is caused by a variety of the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium. Fever and swollen lymph nodes in the groin area follow genital sores, which are the initial signs of LGV. LGV has increased recently among homosexual and bisexual men in Europe, and the greatest prevalence of this disease is in Caribbean nations, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central and South America.

Complications

Complications:

Some of the complications that chlamydia may cause include:

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):
This condition is an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes, and it can damage the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus, which include the cervix, even though it may cause no signs or symptoms. Abscesses in the fallopian tubes and ovaries may be caused by an untreated case of PID.

Infections in newborns:
Causing pneumonia or an eye infection that can lead to blindness; the chlamydia infection may pass from the mother’s vaginal canal to the child during delivery.

Chronic pelvic pain:
This case may be caused by untreated chlamydia in women.  

Rectal inflammation:
Rectal pain and mucus discharge may be caused by rectal inflammation, which in turn is caused by the Chlamydia organism when one engages in anal sex.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV):
The risk of acquiring HIV is greater in women infected with chlamydia.

Other sexually transmitted infections:
A person with chlamydia is recommended to be tested for other sexually transmitted infections, as the risk of those infections, such as hepatitis, syphilis and gonorrhea, is higher in people with chlamydia.

Prostatitis:
Lower back pain, fever and chills, painful urination and pain during or after sex may be caused by prostatitis, which occurs when the chlamydia organism spreads to the prostate gland.

Infertility:
This may be caused by scarring in the fallopian tubes that is in turn caused by chlamydia infection.

Epididymitis:
The epididymis, a coiled tube located beside each testicle, may be inflamed by a chlamydia infection. Swelling, scrotal pain and fever may be caused by this condition.

Eye infections:
An eye infection, such as pink eye (conjunctivitis), may be caused when touching one's eye with a hand moistened with infectious secretions. Blindness may be the result of an untreated eye infection.

Treatments:

Prescription antibiotics such as erythromycin, doxycycline or azithromycin are usually used in treating chlamydia. These antibiotics are generally prescribed as pills. The patient may receive a prescription medication to be taken daily or multiple times a day for five to 10 days or he/she may be asked to take the medication in a one-time dose.
Within one to two weeks, the infection resolves in most of the cases, and the patient should abstain from sex during that time.
One may be reinfected with chlamydia, so his/her sexual partner or partners need treatment as well even though they may not have signs or symptoms; if not, the infection can be passed back and forth.

Prognosis:

Not Available

Expert's opinion

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