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Chlamydia: Information on the Silent Epidemic

Chlamydia is one the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) caused by the bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, the infection is quite hazardous if not treated within the appropriate duration. 

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In Chlamydia, the urethra and rectum gets infected in both sexes. In women, the cervix also gets infected. In few cases, the infection may also affect some other parts of the body such as lungs, liver, throat and eyes.

Recently, a survey showed that around 10 to 20 percent of sexually active female teens get and transfer Chlamydia infections; and in around 75 percent cases, the infection remains clinically imperceptible.

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According to a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta, it has been recorded that Chlamydia has sickened 1.2 million of Americans. Similar records have been given by the Centre for disease control and prevention (CDC).  Moreover, Mayo clinic reports suggest that it affects around 4 million people every year.

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Spreading Chlamydia    

Chlamydia can get easily spread on having unprotected sex, from a mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth and by carrying the infection on fingers from the genitals to the eyes, however, this is very occasional.

Symptoms of Chlamydia

Initial symptoms of Chlamydia are quite meek and gentle this is why it is often termed as silent STD also. However, if in case, a person gets infected by the bacteria, then the symptoms appear after two or three weeks of exposure.

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Common symptoms of Chlamydia in female:

  • Heavy vaginal discharge
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Irritation of the area around the vagina
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Common symptoms of Chlamydia in male

  • White or yellow discharge from the eye of the penis
  • Tickled or itchy sensation
  • Burning and pain during urination

Diagnose and Tests of Chlamydia

Nowadays, it has become quite easy to diagnose Chlamydia.  Among women, a pelvic exam is conducted or urethral swabs are tested for detecting Chlamydia and gonorrhea, whereas in men, urethral swab is diagnosed. However, among all, the most popular test available is the urine test. It is easy and extremely accurate.

Treatments for Chlamydia

  • Typically, the most effective treatment available for curing Chlamydia, comes the bouquet of antibiotics. Prescribed intake of a single dose of azithromycin (Zithromax®) or a week of doxycycline are the most popular medications used to treat Chlamydia.
  • Tetracycline and erythromycin are other two medications that are prescribed for the treatment of Chlamydia.
  • As Chlamydia is a sever STD, it is important for the sex partners of infected person to test and receive chlamydia treatment to avoid the chances of reinfection.
  • Post treatment also, it is advised to pay regular visit to your doctor for at least 3 to 4 months.
  • Completely avoid having sex while you are going through the treatment.

Ways to prevent catching Chlamydia

  • One should not get involved in having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • Avoid having sex with multiple partners
  • Do not try to exchange sex toys among friends and others as it may carry the infection from one person to another quite easily.

Always remember that in females, if the infection is left untreated, then it may cause serious health problems such as causing blemishes on the fallopian tubes and chronic pelvic pain, which in turn, can adversely affect fertility, whereas in men, it can seriously infect the urinary tract.

Summary: Chlamydia, a silent epidemic may linger on for months and years without getting diagnosed as it shows no major symptoms and have no prominent avoidable causes.  Bi- annual screening of sexually active people is recommended to keep this health hazard at distance.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 12, 2015