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  • Symptoms of Chlamydia

    Genital Infections

    It is common to have a chlamydial infection and have no symptoms. This happens in about 70% of cases. Many people who do not know they are infected carry the infection for years. They can transmit it to others and slowly scar their genital organs. In these cases, infected people may have nonspecific symptoms, like vague back or pelvic pain, bowel trouble, painful intercourse, or loss of energy. If recognizable symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 1-3 weeks of exposure.

    Symptoms in Men

    • Purulent (made up of pus) discharge from the penis
    • Burning, itchy, or painful sensation while urinating
    • Swollen or tender testicles

    Symptoms in Women

    • Increased or abnormal vaginal discharge
    • Vaginal redness or irritation
    • Painful and frequent urination
    • Unusual vaginal bleeding/bleeding between periods
    • Pain or bleeding during or after sex
    • Abdominal pain

    Effects of Untreated Chlamydial STI

    Untreated chlamydial STI can have serious results:
    In Men
    • Testicles—Chlamydia may cause epididymitis , a painful swelling and inflammation of the testicles that may lead to infertility.
    • Urethra—The inside of the urethra may become inflamed ( urethritis ), which will cause burning when passing urine and can lead to scarring. This can cause difficulty passing urine and even urine flow blockage.
    • Prostate—Chlamydia may cause inflammation of the prostate gland ( prostatitis ). Symptoms include pain in and around the groin and pelvis, discomfort when urinating, and perhaps flu-like symptoms—fever, chills, aching-all-over, lethargy.
    • Joints and eyes—Chlamydia may cause joint pain which is just one symptom in a collection of conditions, called Reiter's syndrome , which also includes urethritis, arthritis, and conjunctivitis (pink eye).
    In Women
      Reproductive organs
      • Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious infection that can lead to infertility , even in women who never have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they are usually pelvic pain and pain with intercourse. PID causes scar tissue to form in the fallopian tubes and may even produce an abscess in a fallopian tube.
      • Scarring also increases the risk of a tubal pregnancy , as well as infertility. A tubal pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg cannot reach the uterus (womb) due to scarring in the fallopian tube. The result can be disastrous if an abscess or a tubal pregnancy is not removed surgically. Either one can rupture and cause bleeding or infection inside the abdomen—both surgical emergencies.
    • Appendix and liver—Chlamydia and gonorrhea can both cause inflammation inside the abdomen, not only around the reproductive organs, but also around the appendix or the liver. When the liver is involved the symptoms resemble gallbladder disease —fever and pain under the right ribs. This condition is called Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome. There may also be a vaginal discharge or bleeding from involvement of the cervix, or swelling and pain in small (Bartholin’s) glands in the external genitals.
    In Men and Women
    • Rectum—Chlamydial infection can spread to the rectum or begin there from anal intercourse. It causes pain, anal discharge and bleeding, and lower abdominal cramping.
    • Throat—Oral sexual contact can lead to a chlamydial infection in the throat that resembles strep throat .

    Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)

    LGV usually begins with a small and transient blister, lump, or ulcer in the genitals. This lesion usually goes unnoticed. One to four weeks later, regional lymph nodes begin to swell, reach alarming proportions, and may form abscesses that drain pus. The most obvious site is in the groin. Untreated, the swollen nodes eventually resolve, leaving behind scars or lumps of scar tissue.

    Eye Infections

    Trachoma begins like a mild case of pink eye or an allergic reaction in the eye. Slowly the upper eyelid becomes scarred and retracted, drawing the eyelashes into contact with the cornea and scratching it. A fogging of the cornea develops that eventually clouds over and obscures vision. Trachoma is most frequently spread from person to person by unsanitary contact. Trachoma is currently very rare outside the developing world.

    Lung Infections

    Chlamydial infections of the lungs may cause acute pneumonia with fever, chills, difficulty breathing, cough.. In some cases, the illness can resemble bronchitis . It may also involve other organs in the chest, like the heart or the lung linings. Chlamydia lung infections are caused by organisms that are different from the ones that cause sexually transmitted diseases. The illness cannot result in any kind of sexually transmitted disease.

    Neonatal Chlamydia

    Pregnant women can transmit chlamydia to their newborns during birth. This may cause conjunctivitis (pink eye) or pneumonia in the baby.

    References

    British Association for Sexual Health and HIV guideline: 2006 UK national guideline for the management of genital tract infection with chlamydia trachomatis. British Association for Sexual health and HIV (BASHH) . 2006.

    Canadian Paediatric Society. Recommendations for the prevention of neonatal ophthalmia. Canadian Paediatric Society website. Available at: http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/ID/ID02-03.htm . Updated March 2008. Accessed October 6, 2012.

    Chlamydia fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/STDFact-Chlamydia.htm . Updated Feburaray 8, 2012. Accessed October 6, 2012.

    Chlamydia genital infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated September 7, 2012. Accessed October 6, 2012.

    Chlamydia. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/chlamydia/understanding/Pages/cause.aspx . Updated August 20, 2010. Accessed October 6, 2012.

    Chlamydia. National Women's Health Organization website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/chlamydia.cfm . Updated July 8, 2011. Accessed October 6, 2012.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.

    Den Hartog JE, Morre SA, Land JA. Chlamydia trachomatis-associated tubal factor subfertility: immunogenetic aspects and serological screening. Human Reproduction Update. 2006;12:719-730.

    Heymann DL. Control of Communicable Diseases Manual. 18th ed. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 2004.

    Miller KE. Diagnosis and treatment of chlamydia trachomatis infection. Am Fam Physian. 2006;73:1411-1416.

    Psittacosis. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website. Available at: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/psittacosis.html . Accessed October 6, 2012.

    World Health Organization. Trachoma. World Health Organization website. Available at: http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/priority/en/index2.html . Accessed October 6, 2012.

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