Chlamydia is actually a group of different infections caused by different strains of the Chlamydia bacterium.
Chlamydia pneumonia and Chlamydia psittaci cause different types of pneumonia. Chlamydia trachomatis causes various sexually transmitted diseases.
Chlamydia trachomatis is currently one of the most common and widespread bacterial STDs.
It is estimated that more than 4 million people are infected each year. Chlamydial infection is highly prevalent among economically disadvantaged young women between 16 and 24 years old. People infected with Chlamydia often have no symptoms therefore are often unaware they are infected and may not seek professional health care.
Chlamydial infection is a curable sexually transmitted disease (STDs), which can be transmitted during oral, vag.inal, or anal s.ex with an infected partner; and from a mother to her newborn baby during delivery.
When diagnosed, Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured. Untreated, Chlamydia can cause serious long and short term health problems in men and women as well as in newborn babies of infected mothers, including pelvic inflammatory disease(PID), which may lead to infertility, or tubal pregnancy (which can sometimes be fatal). Chlamydia may also result in problems for the newborn such as neonatal conjunctivitis and pneumonia.
In the beginning Chlamydia may be asymptomatic and recurrent so you may not even know you have it.
Those who do notice that they have this infection will have certain unspecific symptoms for weeks or months , depending on the severity of the infection and whether treatment was undertaken early, or not at all.
But as it worse, the person will begin to experience different symptoms: In pre-puberty girls there is vaginal discharge and odour (vaginitis); and in post-puberty girls, discharge (off-white) and odour which comes from the cervix being infected.
In women, Chlamydia is often silent, with up to 90% of women being asymptomatic. Women can carry the bacteria for months or even years without knowing it. This makes screening very important.
Symptoms can start to occur within 3 weeks after getting the infection and include the following: constant lower abdominal; mild, milky or yellow mucus-like vaginal discharge; nausea and fever; pain during urination; pain during sexual intercourse; and spotting between periods. Chlamydia can also lead to cervicitis, salpingitis, and ectopic pregnancy. If a pregnant woman has Chlamydia trachomatis the risk of an ectopic pregnancy is much higher.
Chlamydia may also cause pelvic inflammatory disease leading to infertility, chronic pain, even death.
In men, Chlamydia causes Non-Specific Urethritis (NSU) which can produce symptoms such as burning on nutrition (non-gonoccocal urethritis); groin pain and swelling; irritation around opening of the p.enis; mild, sticky, milky or mucus-like discharge from p.enis; pain when urinating; swollen testes (which if not treated can lead to infertility); and testicular pain. Symptoms may seem to ‘’come and go’’.
In babies, 25% of them passing down the infected birth canal will get Chlamydia pneumonia and 50% of all babies born to infected women through the birth canal will develop Chlamydia conjunctivitis (pink eye) a week after birth. In severe cases blindness may occur.
The bacteria can be easily passed to the developing child within the uterus and the child may have respiratory diseases for a long time if not treated.
The infection can occur in the pharynx from oral-genital contact and can also be spread to the eyes causing inflammation of the lining of the eye (pink eye).
In tropical climates, a particular strain of C. trachomatis called Lymphogranuloma venerum (LGV) which can get into the skin through tiny cuts. After months or years it can spread to other lymph nodes causing genital problems, pain, proctitis, and ulcerations.
The bacterium causing the infection is transmitted by direct person-to-person contact through blood, passing it to a baby during birth, semen, touching eyes when infected, and vaginal fluid.
Chlamydia infection can be confused with Gonorrhoea because the symptoms of both disease are similar and in some situations they occur together. A sample of the patient’s inexpensive laboratory tests.
Due to lack of symptoms people who are infected with Chlamydia may unknowingly infect their s*x partners. A s*xually active person can lower risk of infection by following these guidelines:
Abstinence is the only way to be 100% sure of protection from Chlamydia and other s*xually transmitted disease.
Drugs reduce the ability to make sensible decisions; such as becoming sexually intimate when drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs.
Condoms should be used during sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal).
Limit the number of sexual partners. Risk of infection increases as number of partners increases.
Persons who have more than one s*x partner, especially women under 25 years, should be tested regularly.
Annual screening of all sexually active females under 20 years of age.
Pregnant women should be tested.
Women with infection of the cervix should be tested.
Screening of women over 20 years with one or more risk factors for Chlamydia (diaphragm contraception, lack of condom, multiple sex partners, and new sex partner).
Chlamydia can be in the body for a very long time unless treated with antibiotics. Usually this consists of a 7-10 day treatment program. A number of antibiotics are used to treat Chlamydial infections including Amoxicillin, Azithromycin, Doxycycline, Erythromycin, Tetracycline, and Ofloxacin.
Penicillin is not effective against Chlamydia infections. The prescribed medication should be taken, even after symptoms disappear, until advised by your health practitioner. All sexually partners of a person with Chlamydia infection need to be evaluated and treated to prevent re-infection.
Screening and treatment of Chlamydia decreases the incidence of complications, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and reduces the prevalence of lower genital tract infection.