Dr. H. Hunter Handsfield discusses Chlamydia Treatment

April 16th, 2011  |  Published in STD Testing

A positive Chlamydia diagnosis is often confusing and scary. Fortunately, Chlamydia is completely curable. If detected and treated early, complications from Chlamydia are uncommon.

After receiving a positive Chlamydia test result, early treatment is key. If left untreated, Chlamydia can cause irreversible reproductive damage, particularly in women. Untreated Chlamydia infection in women can lead to a serious condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can result in chronic pelvic pain, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, and infertility due to blocked or scarred fallopian tubes. In rare cases, untreated Chlamydia infection in men leads to epididymitis, a painful testicular infection.

Fortunately, Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics and typically clears up within a week from antibiotic administration. Most commonly, the antibiotic prescribed to treat Chlamydia is azithromycin (Zithromax), administered in a single dose. Doxycycline is also an effective Chlamydia antibiotic, but must be taken twice daily for a week.

According to Dr. H. Hunter Handsfield, a member of STDtesting.com’s Medical Advisory Board, there are limited side effects with Chlamydia antibiotics.

“The most common side effects of azithromycin, used to treat Chlamydia, are related to gastrointestinal intolerance. Some people experience upper abdominal pain or nausea within an hour of taking the drug. Vomiting is uncommon, but it can lead to ineffective treatment if it occurs within a few minutes after swallowing the pill. Other people report cramps and diarrhea within a 24-hour period. Although uncomfortable, these side effects are typically harmless,” says Handsfield.

Handsfield indicates the main side effects of doxycycline are also gastrointestinal. Some people report diarrhea and nausea. However, taking the drug with food often diminishes nausea symptoms.

“A more serious side effect of doxycycline is photosensitivity,” adds Handsfield. When photosensitivity occurs, people are abnormally susceptible to sunburn. Even a few minutes in sunlight can result in a painful burn. Fortunately, photosensitivity due to doxycycline is rare. However, Handsfield advises patients taking the drug to use SPF 30 or greater sunscreen while at the beach, skiing, or engaging in other activities in direct sunlight.

It’s important to note that antibiotics of any kind are known to trigger yeast infections. Yeast infections typically appear as discharge or rash in moist areas of the body like the groin, under skin folds, the vaginal area in women, under the foreskin of uncircumcised men, or around the anus. “Genital or anal yeast infections are often confusing to men and women treated for Chlamydia, as sexually transmitted diseases can cause similar symptoms.”

“Allergic reactions such as hives or other skin rash can occur with any drug, but this is rare with both azithromycin and doxycycline,” Handsfield adds. As with any medication, there is risk for unanticipated side effects. Anyone treated for Chlamydia is advised to contact their healthcare provider promptly if unexpected symptoms from Chlamydia treatment arise.

Anyone experiencing a Chlamydia infection is advised to notify sexual partners. Chlamydia is often asymptomatic and can lead to long-term damage if left untreated and can be transmitted back and forth among partners. If Chlamydia symptoms are present, they often mimic common vaginal issues in women such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or a urinary tract infection. Chlamydia symptoms can be vague and nonspecific. Chlamydia testing is the only way to adequately diagnosis the disease. For Chlamydia or any STD, it is important to avoid self-diagnosis and self-treatment.

If you’re interested in testing for Chlamydia, private Chlamydia testing is available through our network of over 4,000 nationwide labs and via in-home Chlamydia test kit. To learn more about these options, visit STD tests and pricing.

Hunter Handsfield is a member of STDtesting.com's Medical Advisory Board and winner of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010 Parran Award. To read more about Dr. Handsfield, click here.

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