Chlamydia is a very common STD, caused by the bacteria 'chlamydia trachomatis'. The bacteria lives in the mouth, eyes, liver, lungs, throat and urinary tract etc. and primarily affects the urethra in men and the cervix or neck of the womb in women. The disease is particularly common among young people between 15 and 25 years and is highly infectious and easily transferred from person to person.
Chlamydia is a particularly dangerous disease because there are many infected individuals who experience no symptoms. Symptoms may include:
In infants, there are usually no symptoms at birth, but later may result in Pneumonia when the baby is 2-3 weeks old.
Chlamydia not detected and left untreated can lead to serious complications. Advanced chlamydia can cause infection of the appendix, heart and liver. In women, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in which the fallopian tube may be damaged leading to infertility and may cause Ectopic Pregnancy. It can also cause eye infections. In addition, men risk an infection of the epididymis which may cause infertility.
Testing is quick and effective. One of the most common ways of testing for Chlamydia is to collect a cell sample from the infected area (cervix or penis) with a cotton swab, which is sent to a laboratory for evaluation and results.
Chlamydia can be cleared with a range of antibiotics taken for 1-3 weeks. All sexual partners must be screened and treated to prevent re-infection. Pregnant women may be treated with erythromycin. They should have follow up tests done if they have failed or forgot to take the pills or had unprotected sex during treatment.
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