What causes chlamydia infection?
Chlamydia trachomatis is a bacteria that hides in the genital tract of infected boys and girls. The bacteria is able to trick the immune system to allow it to survive within human cells.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia infection?
- Up to 75% of women and most males have no symptoms at the time of infection
- Vaginal discharge (white, watery, mucousy)
- Urethral discharge in both men and women - also white, watery, and mucousy
- Painful urination
- Abdominal pain
Red Flags (seek medical care immediately)
- Severe or persistent abdominal pain
- Pain in the right, upper abdomen
- Symptoms in a child who is young or not suspected to be sexually-active
- Unexpected vaginal bleeding
- Suspected pregnancy
- Significant malaise (feeling sick)
How is a chlamydia infection diagnosed?
- For females, a pelvic exam is necessary. A small sample of cells from the cevix and of the vaginal discharge can be tested. This is typically quick and painless.
- For males, a small cotton-tipped stick is inserted into the urethra a short distance to sample the cells lining the urethral wall.
- Samples of cells are sent to a laboratory to identify the bacteria. Cultures or microscopic analysis (with special staining) can be used. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of samples is available in some labs and is likely a more accurate test.
- Identification of chlamydia infection should prompt evaluation for other sexually-transmitted diseases also, such as: gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and/or hepatitis B (if your doctor thinks this is necessary).
How is chlamydia treated?
- Antibiotics such as doxycycline, azithromycin, erythromycin, and fluoroquinolones are effective. Azithromycin can be given to adolescents in a single dose.
- Sexual partners of infected patients should be evaluated and treated if sexual contact occurred within 60 days of infection.
What are the complications of chlamydia infection?
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Peri-hepatitis (Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome)
- Damage to fallopian tubes which may cause infertility or ectopic pregnancy
- An increased risk of acquiring HIV or other STD's
In infants born to infected mothers
Conjunctivitis - an eye infection that may lead to blindness
Last Updated (Tuesday, 23 June 2009 10:12)