Chlamydia is known as a silent disease mainly because observable symptoms are often absent in sufferers. Many of those who suffer from the symptoms will not seek medical treatment because of the stigma attached to sexually transmitted diseases, thus, resulting in under-reported cases. In the United States alone, an estimated 2.8 million infections occur every year making chlamydia one of the most common STDs in the country.
If symptoms are present, infected men and women experience a burning sensation when urinating, an abnormal discharge from their external reproductive organs, and itching sensations around the penile area. In women, the symptoms can also include pain in the lower back and abdomen areas, nausea, fever, bleeding between menstrual periods and pain during intercourse.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex. It can also be transmitted by an infected mother to her newborn baby in the course of vaginal birth. The cohorts with the highest risks for infection are sexually active teenage girls and young women as well as individuals with multiple sex partners.
The good news is that modern medical science has found effective ways to treat chlamydia. It should be emphasized, however, that both sex partners must be diagnosed and treated for the disease since re-infection can still happen.
- The Center for Disease Control recommends antibiotic regimens to treat chlamydia. The regimen depends on the age, physical condition and severity of the infection, among other factors. For example, pregnant women undergo a different antibiotic course as well as a test-of-cure than other cohorts.
For relatively healthy individuals, the recommended antibiotic regimens are either of the two:
- Azithromycin 1 gram oral administration in a single dose
- Doxycycline 100 milligram oral administration two times a day for 7 days
Azithromycin is usually recommended for individuals with high risks for non-compliance to the 7-day doxycycline regimen. Both have been proven effective in treating chlamydia – microbial cure rates ranges from 97 to 99 percent – so either course is acceptable for most cases.
- However, there are cases when the aforementioned antibiotic regimens may not work or may not be available. The recommended alternative therapies then consist of either of the following:
- Erythromycin base 500 milligram oral administration four times daily for 7 days.
- Erythromycin ethylsuccinate 800 milligram oral administration four times daily for 7 days
- Ofloxacin 300 milligrams orally two times a day for 7 days
- Levofloxacin 500 milligrams orally once a day for 7 days
These alternative treatments should also be evaluated according to the side effects experienced by the individuals being treated. For example, erythromycin can cause gastrointestinal upset.
- While an individual is undergoing treatment, he or she should be advised to completely refrain from any sexual activity until all their sexual partners have been diagnosed and treated for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases. Said abstinence should last for at least 7 days after the end of the antibiotic course. (Yes, it can be inconvenient for sexually active people but it’s a small price to pay for being free of chlamydia) Health experts recommend that all individuals who have had sex with the infected individual 60 days before the onset of symptoms must be evaluated, tested and treated.
- In pregnant women, the recommended antibiotic courses slightly vary because of special considerations for their physical condition. Doxycycline, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin are all contraindicated for use by pregnant women because of possible side effects on the unborn child while erythromycin can cause frequent gastrointestinal upset, thus, discouraging its use. Doctors prescribe either azithromycin (1 gram orally in a single dose) or amoxicillin (500 milligrams 3 times daily for 7 days) to treat chlamydia. Erythromycin, either in its base or ethylsuccinate version, is also recommended but only as an alternative treatment.
- Unfortunately, preadolescent children can also be infected with chlamydia. In these cases, sexual abuse is a possibility that should be addressed by the concerned authorities. It should be noted that perinatally transmitted infections can persist for more than a year in babies so sexual abuse may likely be ruled out. For children who have been infected with chlamydia, the recommended antibiotic regimens involve erythromycin base, erythromycin ethylsuccinate, azithromycin or doxycycline. The dosages will differ based on the age of the child.
- Even when the antibiotic regimen appears to work, repeat testing should be conducted especially in pregnant women. This is called test-of-cure, which is done 3 to 4 weeks after the antibiotic regimen is completed. Take note that other cohorts need not go through the test-of-cure procedure unless therapeutic compliance is doubtful.
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