A Complete Guide on Using Antibiotics For Chlamydia

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The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there were about 4 million cases of chlamydia in 2018 in the US, and it is one of the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infections. Chlamydia is commonly found in young people, and two-thirds of new infections each year are among the 15-24 age group. However, chlamydia is easy to test for and easily treatable with antibiotics. This article is a guide on using antibiotics for chlamydia. Read on to know more.

Chlamydia is a commonly reported sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria called chlamydia trachomatis. If not treated, it may cause cervicitis, urethritis, and proctitis. For women, especially pregnant women, chlamydia can be highly consequential as it may cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and pregnancy complications, including ectopic pregnancy.

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Antibiotics for Chlamydia

Simply put, antibiotics are medications prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics work by killing or preventing bacteria from multiplying.

You may take antibiotics:

  • Orally ingested in the form of pills, capsules, or liquids.
  • Topically applied in the form of creams, sprays, drops, or ointments and,
  • Intravenously (injection).

Not all bacterial infections require antibiotics, including viral infections. But chlamydia is an infection requiring antibiotics to remove, and they are incredibly effective.

What Are The Treatments For Chlamydia?

As mentioned, the best treatment for chlamydia trachomatis is through antibiotics. They are highly effective in removing infection from the body. Given the potentially damaging long-term health concerns that can emerge from leaving the disease untreated, taking and finishing a course of antibiotics is crucial.

A laboratory test can diagnose if someone has contracted chlamydia quickly. A healthcare provider will typically ask for a small urine sample to evaluate. Another common way to test for chlamydia is using a cotton swab, which is typical when seeking a vaginal sample from a patient.

Healthcare providers will determine which antibiotic should be prescribed, considering a patient’s needs and medical history. Once prescribed, you must take the antibiotics until the course is finished. You should also abstain from sexual contact (typically 7-10 days), and your immediate partners should also get tested for chlamydia. If a person continues to show symptoms of chlamydia after their course of antibiotic treatment, they should seek further testing and a possible second course of antibiotics.

When taken as directed, the antibiotics will stop the chlamydia infection and its spread and should lower the chances of further health complications later. However, although antibiotics will prevent further infection, they will not undo any lingering permanent damage caused by chlamydia in the body.

A repeat infection of chlamydia is, unfortunately, common. Therefore, after initial infection in women, it is recommended to seek continual retesting of chlamydia (and other STDs) every 3-4 months.

Some US states have started to offer free at-home testing kits for chlamydia.

As chlamydia symptoms are often similar in appearance to gonorrhea, another common STD, and because it is not uncommon to have people infected with both STDs simultaneously, a healthcare provider may conduct simultaneous tests.

What Antibiotics Cure Chlamydia?

A popular antibiotic used for chlamydia is azithromycin. This is an FDA -approved antibiotic that is used for genital chlamydia. As with all antibiotics, azithromycin stops the chlamydia bacteria from multiplying within the body, particularly in the genital area. In addition, Doxycycline is also commonly prescribed to treat chlamydia.

How Effective Are Antibiotics for Chlamydia?

Studies show that azithromycin is not only effective and safe but also has an efficacy rate of 97 percent. Doxycycline is a similar option.

One dose of azithromycin, taken in pill form orally, will typically cure genital chlamydia. Within a week, chlamydia symptoms should have entirely disappeared from the body, as will the possibility of infecting others during sexual intercourse. However, in some cases, it may typically take up to 10-14 days to cure the body of the infection.

Azithromycin, while safe for most people, does have a small number of side effects. Typically, these are limited to minor symptoms, including an upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. For people with arrhythmias, it may, in sporadic cases, lead to cardiovascular issues and death. A healthcare provider will consider these before prescribing azithromycin for someone with a chlamydia infection.

What Is The Best Antibiotic For Chlamydia?

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Health, antibiotics like azithromycin (known as Zithromax) cure chlamydia trachomatis exceptionally well.

It is essential to remember a few things when taking azithromycin:

  • Take the pills as directed.
  • Swallow it at the same time with water and after eating food.

By taking an azithromycin dose with food, people living with chlamydia are less likely to experience side effects, especially stomach-related and nausea. This is because azithromycin performs better on the body’s symptoms this way.

  • Take all of the course of antibiotics you were given. Do not share the antibiotics with a partner.
  • It is essential not to take azithromycin an hour before an antacid nor take an antacid two hours after azithromycin. These include Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox.

You may be experiencing an allergic reaction to azithromycin if:

  • You experience dizziness
  • You have trouble breathing, develop tightness in the chest, or begin wheezing,
  • Your lips or tongue swell,
  • Your throat tightens or closes or
  • You develop hives.

Should any of these occur, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

Azithromycin is one of the most popular antibiotics for chlamydia

How To Treat Antibiotic-Resistant Chlamydia

Chlamydia symptoms respond exceptionally well to several antibiotics as well as azithromycin. These include Doxycycline, erythromycin, and amoxicillin. Azithromycin is widely prescribed because it is a singular dosage and generally clears the body of symptoms within 7 – 10 days. However, a healthcare professional may prescribe other antibiotics if the body does not respond to azithromycin. It is important to remember that azithromycin is over 97% effective. Given this, it is rare to find cases where the body shows resistance to azithromycin and symptoms do not dissipate in that 7–10 days timeframe.

Recent reports from the CDC in the United States have reported no cases of treatment-resistant chlamydia. 3 million cases were reported in 2019 to the CDC by healthcare providers. Given that chlamydia is the most common STD among Americans and that no treatment-resistance cases were reported, it is safe to say that antibiotics like azithromycin are highly effective.

As with any disease, however, continual spreading can lead to new strains evolving and changing that prove to be more resistant to available drugs. As of now, though, the good news for people living with chlamydia is that the widely available drugs are highly effective.

When To See A Doctor

The short answer here is that as soon as symptoms arise or if you have had sexual intercourse recently with someone who a healthcare provider has diagnosed with chlamydia. Symptoms of chlamydia vary from person to person and between men and women. Even if a woman with chlamydia shows no symptoms, it is essential to remember that it can damage their reproductive system. Women who show signs of chlamydia may notice the following:

  • An abnormal vaginal discharge; and
  • A burning sensation when urinating.

For men, symptoms include:

  • An abnormal discharge from their penis,
  • A burning sensation during urination and,
  • Pain and or swelling in one or both testicles.

Chlamydia can occur in the rectum also. This is typically the case when anal intercourse is performed with someone with chlamydia. Chlamydia may also spread to the anus from the vagina. It is essential to get chlamydia treated if diagnosed by a healthcare professional.

Symptoms of this include:

  • Rectal Pain,
  • A discharge from the area and
  • Bleeding.

It is essential to see your healthcare provider if you notice any of the above symptoms. You should also contact your provider if your partner shows other common STD symptoms, including:

  • An unusual or new sore around the genitals,
  • A smelly discharge,
  • A burning sensation while urinating; or
  • Bleeding between periods for women.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A chlamydial infection will respond well to several widely available antibiotics, with azithromycin being the most commonly prescribed by doctors and healthcare providers. However, other drugs, including Doxycycline, erythromycin, and amoxicillin, may be prescribed and are highly effective at treating a chlamydial infection. 

A doctor or healthcare provider prescribed antibiotic treatment for chlamydia trachomatis or chlamydial infection is typically 95% effective or higher. 

While a chlamydial infection is not fatal, when untreated, it can pose several sexual health risks, especially for women. Pregnant women may experience complications from sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, including ectopic pregnancy. 

After 7 to 10 days and with antibiotics, symptoms of chlamydia should disappear. Your healthcare provider can conduct a chlamydia test to check if you are no longer positive for the sexually transmitted disease. It is important to only engage in sexual contact after this period. 

Typically, as with most transmitted infections, there are alternative remedies for chlamydia. If left untreated, chlamydia can pose serious sexual health complications in men and have dire reproductive consequences in women, so it is important to seek healthcare advice and prescribed drug treatment. 

While no conclusive evidence suggests that smoking directly affects treating chlamydia, smokers are prescribed antibiotic treatment on average more than non-smokers, which as a result, may lead to more resistance in the body. Therefore, healthcare professionals recommend avoiding smoking during any antibiotic treatment, including when treating chlamydia. 

Treated chlamydia typically goes away within 7-10 days. 

Azithromycin is the most popularly prescribed by healthcare providers, but Doxycycline, erythromycin, and amoxicillin are also commonly used antibiotics for chlamydia.

To treat BV or Bacterial Vaginosis, a healthcare provider may prescribe any of the following antibiotics. They will consider your medical history before prescribing:

  • Metronidazole (Flagyl, Metrogel-Vaginal, others) – This drug may come in pill form or a topical gel inserted into the vagina.
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin, Clindesse, others) – This drug is available as a cream only, and like Metronidazole, it is inserted into the vagina.
  • Tinidazole (Tindamax) – This pill is taken orally.
  • Secnidazole (Solosec) – This antibiotic is taken orally in a single dose. It is packaged as granules so that you can sprinkle it on soft food.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.