Straight facts on Chlamydia - 90 million people are infected worldwide


By: Dr. S. Lawson

breast&doctor-lawson.jpgChlamydia is the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States causing approximately 4 million infections annually. Today, teenage girls have the highest rates of Chlamydia infection worldwide. Studies conducted show that 1 in 9 women are infected with Chlamydia with higher prevalence between the ages 16-24. Approximately 90 million people are infected worldwide. Fifty percent of the men and seventy five percent of women infected with Chlamydia are asymptomatic (present without symptoms).

Transmitted during oral, vaginal and anal sex, through the blood during pregnancy as well as during vaginal delivery of a newborn, Chlamydia is a curable sexually transmitted infection (STI). Chlamydia trachomatis can be transmitted via aerosolize vapors (similar to tuberculosis). This type of infection does not cause obvious clinical infection but contributes to other severe medical complications such as intractable pain syndrome, heart disease, circulatory disturbances, diabetes, reactive arthritis and cancer.

Chlamydia trachomatis is the species that causes Chlamydia (STI), conjunctivitis (pink eye) and pneumonia in infants as well as Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV). Conjunctivitis (pink eye) can cause blindness in the newborn. LGV is caused by this strain of Chlamydia, that mostly affects people in the tropical climate and can invade the skin through tiny cuts, leading to inflamed rectum (proctitis), and skin ulcers. LGV can infect lymph nodes causing genital problems, pain, proctitis inflamed rectum), skin breakdown (ulceration) and swelling.

As a parasite that behaves like a virus, Chlamydia trachomatis is an atypical bacteria. Infected men can act as a reservoir of Chlamydia infection that can contribute to re-infection of their partners. Early treatment and frequent screening of susceptible individuals is critical to prevent severe complications. Inadequately treated infections and the presence of heavy metals in the body may cause Chlamydia resistance to antibiotics leading to persistence subclinical (not detected by routine diagnostic test) infections that can contribute to other medical complications.

Women can carry Chlamydia for years without knowing they are infected. Symptoms can worsen progressively depending on immune status and whether adequate treatment was initiated early enough. Symptoms can begin up to 3 weeks after contracting the infection. Signs and symptoms may present themselves as fever, milky or yellow mucus-like vaginal discharge in women and penial discharge in men. There can also be constant lower abdominal pain, urinary frequency urgency, pain during urination (urithritis), pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), spotting between periods, easily induced endocervical bleeding, inflammation of the cervix (15% of women with Chlamydia infection will develop cervicitis), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), painful and swollen testes (epididymitis) and inflamed prostate (prostitis). Chlamydia infection can causes infection of vaginal walls (mucosa) making it more vulnerable to HIV infection.

Be aware that throat infection (pharyngitis) can be caused by Chlamydia due to oral sex. The Chlamydia organism has also recently been discovered in certain plaques that cause heart disease, and circulatory disturbances. Chlamydia infection of the pancreas can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

High incidents of Chlamydia infection are found within single individuals, people of poor socio-economical status, minorities - including non-white race, and those aged less than 19 years old. It is also found primarily amongst people who have multiple sexual partners, anal sexual intercourse, and those abusing drugs and alcohol. A significant number of infections are contracted during pregnancy.

In the United States 1 million women will develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) annually and of these 20% will become infertile. Forty percent of women with untreated Chlamydia infections will develop PID. PID occurs when the infection progresses from the vagina into the tubes then invading the ovaries and pelvic cavity. Scar tissues and adhesions in the tubes and pelvic cavity result in severe pain and ectopic (pregnancy outside of the womb) pregnancies. Ectopic Pregnancy is a common cause of death among poor teenagers in the United States. Tubal pregnancy is the leading cause of first trimester pregnancy-related death in American women. Pelvic infections can eventually spread to the liver causing perihepatitis (infection around the liver).

Chlamydia infection can be diagnosed by visual inspection, culture of discharge or secretion, or DNA amplification of secretions (PCR). Recently, a new test, Amplicor Chlamydia trachomatis test, became available which is carried out using a sample of urine, a swab from a woman's cervix or urethra with available results within 4 hours. Another available test allows a woman to obtain self-administer vaginal swab and place into a container for testing.

There are one day and seven day treatments available that are equally as effective, however those infected should discuss particularly - impaired liver function, irregular heartbeat and of course pregnancy with their physician. Some treatments may cause gastro intestinal problems, while others can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills as well as cause break through bleeding, increasing the risk of unwanted pregnancy. Those infected should continue taking their medication even after symptoms subside to avoid the emergence of resistant organisms.

Heavy metal accumulation in the body may contribute to Chlamydia resistance to antibiotics. Studies suggest the possibility of the development of autoimmune dysfunction due to mercury toxicity based on genetic susceptibility. Heavy metal like mercury, lead and aluminum are typically found in high concentration at areas of Subclinical infections caused by Chlamydia. Amalgam dental fillings constantly emit mercury vapor which is absorbed via the lung. Tap water is another good source of this toxic metal. Where there is excessive accumulation of aluminum and mercury in the brain Chlamydia trachomatis infections often coexist (think about Alzheimer's disease).

Regular screening for Chlamydia infection of sexual partners (especially teenagers), reducing the number of sexual partners, the use of latex condoms (even with oral sex), and avoiding judgment altering intoxicating substances, are actions that may reduce the incidence of Chlamydia infections. Drinking and cooking with filtered water only, sweating (through regular exercise or otherwise), and using natural substances to remove heavy metals from the body can reduce the accumulation of mercury and complications associated with Chlamydia infections.

One thing to keep in mind is that antibiotics abuse makes us more vulnerable to cancers such as breast cancer and heart disease – making it doubly important to avert Chlamydia infections and its subsequent treatment.