With nearly 3 million infections annually, chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Chlamydia transmission occurs during sexual contact with the genitals, anus or mouth of an infected person -- or from a mother to her baby during birth. Oral chlamydia infections often don't cause symptoms. When they do occur, they are typically mild.
Throat and Other Symptoms
Oral chlamydia infections affect the cells lining the throat. The most common symptom is a sore throat, or pharyngitis, lasting several days. This discomfort can be continuous or come and go, and swallowing may increase the discomfort. A sore throat caused by chlamydia may be accompanied by low-grade fever and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. However, most people with an oral chlamydia infection experience no symptoms, leading many to be unaware that they are infected.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Once chlamydia is diagnosed, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics. However, chlamydia can lead to serious medical complications if it remains untreated. If you think you might be infected, it is important to be tested regardless of whether you have symptoms. Check with your local health department or online with the CDC to find a testing site near you.
If you have a sore throat, it is most likely a viral infection. According to CDC, 85 to 95 percent of sore throats among adults are due to a viral infection, which typically clears on its own in 5 to 7 days. Strep throat -- a bacterial infection with group A beta-hemolytic streptococci -- accounts for 5 to 15 percent of sore throats in adults and should be treated with antibiotics to avoid complications. Gonococcal pharyngitis, a throat infection caused by the same bacteria responsible for gonnorhea, is also a consideration. As with oral chlamydia, however, gonococcal throat infections often cause no symptoms.
Warnings and Precautions
See your doctor if you experience a sore throat that lasts for several days, especially if you also have a fever, swollen glands, difficulty swallowing or other symptoms. Many different infections and other illnesses can cause a sore throat.
Reviewed and revised by: Tina M. St. John, M.D.
Is This an Emergency?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed)
- Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica: Occurrence of Pharyngeal Chlamydia Trachomatis Is Uncommon in Patients With a Suspected or Confirmed Genital Infection
- Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases: Pharyngeal Chlamydia Trachomatis Is Not Uncommon Any More
- International Journal of STD and AIDS: What Proportion of Episodes of Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia Becomes Symptomatic
- Preventive Medicine: Asymptomatic Sexually Transmitted Diseases: The Case for Screening
- Family Practice Notebook: Pharyngitis Causes
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Acute Pharyngitis in Adults: Physician Information Sheet
- American Family Physician: Diagnosis and Treatment of Neisseria gonorrhoeae Infections