Yes, chlamydia in the throat is the same infection as genital chlamydia, just in a different location. The bacteria that causes chlamydia, Chlamydia trachomatis, can infect the throat, genitals, rectum, and eyes. So chlamydia in the throat has the same cause and symptoms as chlamydia infecting the genitals or other areas.
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. This bacteria can infect the cervix, urethra, testicles, rectum, eyes, and throat.
There are multiple strains or serovars of Chlamydia trachomatis that affect different sites in the body:
- Serovars D-K: Infect the genital tract, rectum, eyes, and throat
- Serovars L1-L3: Cause lymphogranuloma venereum affecting the lymph nodes, genitals, rectum, and throat
- Serovars A-C: Cause trachoma, an eye infection
So while there are slight variations between the serovar strains, chlamydia is caused by infection with the same overall bacteria – Chlamydia trachomatis.
Chlamydia is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner. Less commonly, it can be spread from mother to newborn during childbirth if the mother has an untreated chlamydia infection.
You can get chlamydia in the throat if infected semen or vaginal fluids come into contact with your mouth and throat during oral sex. Oral sex is a less common way that chlamydia is transmitted, but it can happen.
Chlamydia Throat Infection Symptoms
The symptoms of chlamydia in the throat are usually mild or completely unnoticeable. Signs can include:
- Sore throat
- Swollen tonsils
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- No symptoms at all
You can have a chlamydia infection in the throat without any noticeable symptoms for weeks, months, or longer. The bacteria can remain dormant before causing issues. This makes it easy to transmit the infection to partners unknowingly.
Complications of Throat Chlamydia
Without treatment, chlamydia in the throat can sometimes spread the infection further down into the digestive tract. Complications can potentially include:
- Proctitis – inflammation of the rectum
- Conjunctivitis – pink eye
- Spread of infection to the larynx and vocal cords
- Cysts near tonsils
These complications are less common with prompt antibiotic treatment.
Testing for Throat Chlamydia
The main ways to test for chlamydia in the throat are:
- Throat swab – A health care provider takes a swab sample from the back of your throat to test for chlamydia.
- Urine test – A standard urine chlamydia test can sometimes detect chlamydia in the throat, even without throat swab testing.
- STD screening – When being tested for STDs, you can request swabs from your throat, rectum, and genitals to check for chlamydia and other infections. This is recommended for accurate testing.
You should get tested for chlamydia in the throat if:
- You have symptoms of a throat infection
- You’ve had unprotected oral sex with new or multiple partners
- You’re being screened for STDs and want to cover all your bases
Annual STD screening that includes throat swabs is recommended for sexually active adults. Let your doctor know if you’ve had oral sex so they can test accordingly.
Treating Throat Chlamydia
Chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotic treatment in 1-2 weeks. The recommended medications are:
- Azithromycin – Taken as a single 1 gram oral dose. Easy and effective.
- Doxycycline – 100 mg twice per day for 7 days. Also effective but must be taken for a week.
Your doctor may prescribe a throat gargle or lozenge containing antibiotics to deliver the medication directly to the infected area. This helps clear chlamydia from the throat more effectively.
It’s important to abstain from all sexual activity and contact during treatment and until a follow-up test comes back negative. Chlamydia can be spread even when symptoms go away before the infection is cured.
You should also have your sexual partners from the past several months get tested and treated to prevent reinfection.
Preventing Throat Chlamydia
You can reduce your risk of getting chlamydia in the throat by:
- Using condoms, dental dams, or other barriers during oral sex
- Limiting your number of oral sex partners
- Asking partners to get STD tested before unprotected sex
- Getting regular STD screenings yourself
While most people think of chlamydia as strictly a genital infection, it’s important to remember it can infect any mucous membrane like the throat. Practicing safe oral sex and getting routine STD tests that include throat swabs are the best ways to avoid chlamydia in the throat.
In summary, chlamydia in the throat is the same infection as genital chlamydia, just located in the throat rather than the genitals. It has similar transmission through oral sex, mild symptoms, potential complications, and is cured with antibiotics. Testing for throat infections through throat swabs and practicing safe oral sex are important.
- Chlamydia in the throat is caused by infection with the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, the same bacteria that causes genital infections.
- It can be transmitted through oral sex and usually causes mild or no symptoms.
- Without treatment, it can spread and cause complications like conjunctivitis.
- It’s diagnosed through throat swabs and treated with antibiotics.
- Using protection during oral sex and getting regular STD screening are important prevention measures.
Understanding that chlamydia can infect any mucous membrane, including the throat, helps you get properly tested and treated. Chlamydia in the throat requires the same safe sex practices and treatment as genital infections.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get chlamydia in your throat?
Yes, it is possible to get chlamydia in your throat. The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis infects mucous membranes and can be transmitted through oral sex or other contact with infected fluids. Always use protection during oral sex and get tested regularly to check for throat infections.
What are the symptoms of chlamydia in the mouth and throat?
Chlamydia symptoms in the throat are usually very mild. You may experience a sore throat, swollen tonsils, mild fever, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, and pain or discomfort when swallowing. Many people have a throat infection with no symptoms at all, making testing important.
Can you get chlamydia without having sex?
It would be extremely rare to get chlamydia without having oral, vaginal or anal sex. Chlamydia is only transmitted through direct sexual contact with infected fluids. Newborns can get chlamydia during childbirth if the mother has an untreated infection. But for anyone else, sex is necessary to contract chlamydia.
Can you get chlamydia twice?
Yes, it is possible to contract chlamydia more than once. Being cured with antibiotics does not make you immune. You can be reinfected by having unprotected sex with an infected partner, even a partner you got chlamydia from before. Using condoms and being retested after treatment is important to avoid repeat infections.
What happens if you don’t get treatment for chlamydia?
Without treatment, chlamydia can spread further in the body and cause serious complications. In women this can include pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. In both men and women, untreated chlamydia can cause reactive arthritis and urethritis. Getting tested regularly and treated promptly is important.