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Gonorrhea Rapidly Becoming Treatment Resistant

  • Publish Date : 2014/03/19 - (Rev. 2018/04/09)
  • Author : Thomas C. Weiss
  • Contact : Disabled World


Due to emerging strains of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhea the CDC recommends uncomplicated gonorrhea be treated with antibiotic Ceftriaxone administered through injection.

Main Document

Gonorrhea is an infection caused by a sexually transmitted bacterium that may infect both women and men. Gonorrhea most often affects a person's urethra, throat or rectum. In women, gonorrhea may also infect the cervix. Gonorrhea is most commonly spread during sexual activity, although babies may become infected during childbirth if their mothers are infected. In babies, gonorrhea usually affects the eyes.

A common human sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea. The usual symptoms in men are burning with urination and penile discharge. Women, on the other hand, are asymptomatic half the time or have vaginal discharge and pelvic pain. In both men and women, if gonorrhea is left untreated, it may spread locally, causing epididymitis or pelvic inflammatory disease or throughout the body, affecting joints and heart valves.

Gonorrhea is a common infection that, in a number of instances, causes no symptoms at all. A person may not be aware that they have become infected. Abstaining from sex, using a condom if you do have sex, as well as being in a mutually monogamous relationship are the best ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

What are the Symptoms of a Gonorrhea Infection

In many instances, a gonorrhea infection does not cause any symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they may affect multiple sites in a person's body, although it commonly appears in a person's genital tract. Signs and symptoms in men include painful urination, pain and swelling in one testicle, and a pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis.

Chart showing other parts of a person's body gonorrhea may affect
Chart showing other parts of a person's body gonorrhea may affect

In women, signs and symptoms of a gonorrhea infection include painful urination, increased vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding between periods, such as after vaginal intercourse, as well as pelvic pain. Gonorrhea also has the potential to affect other parts of a person's body such as:

  • Throat: Signs and symptoms of a throat infection might include swollen lymph nodes in a person's neck and a sore throat.
  • Eyes: Gonorrhea that affects a person's eyes might cause sensitivity to light, eye pain, and pus-like discharge from one or both eyes.
  • Rectum: Signs and symptoms include anal itching, spots of bright red blood on toilet tissue, a pus-like discharge from the rectum, and having to strain during bowel movements.
  • Joints: If one or more of a person's joints become infected by bacteria referred to as, 'septic arthritis,' the affected joints may be red, warm, swollen and very painful, particularly when the person moves a joint that is affected.

What are the Risk Factors for Gonorrhea

Some different risk factors for gonorrhea exist that may increase your risk of a gonorrhea infection. These risk factors include being younger in age, having a new sex partner, or having multiple sex partners. Additional risk factors include having a prior gonorrhea diagnosis or having other sexually transmitted infections.

What are the Complications of a Gonorrhea Infection

Untreated gonorrhea may lead to significant complications. The complications an infection with gonorrhea can lead to are described below:

  • Complications in Babies: Babies who contract gonorrhea from their mothers during birth may develop sores on the scalp, infections, and may develop blindness.
  • Increased Risk of HIV/AIDS: Having gonorrhea makes a person more susceptible to infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that leads to AIDS. People who have both gonorrhea and HIV are able to pass both of these diseases more easily to their partners.
  • Infertility in Men: Men with gonorrhea that is not treated may experience, 'epididymitis,' which is an inflammation of a small, coiled tube in the rear portion of the testicles where the sperm ducts are located. Epididymitis is treatable, although if left untreated it might lead to infertility.
  • Infection that Spreads to the Joints and Other Areas of the Body: The bacterium that causes gonorrhea can spread through a person's bloodstream and infect other parts of the body, to include a person's joints. Rash, fever, joint pain, skin sores, swelling and stiffness are all potential results.
  • Infertility in Women: Untreated gonorrhea may spread into the fallopian tubes and uterus, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can result in scarring of the tubes, increased risk of pregnancy complications, as well as infertility. PID is a serious infection that requires immediate treatment.

Make an appointment with a doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms such as a burning sensation when you urinate, or a pus-like discharge from your vagina, penis, or rectum. Also make an appointment with a doctor if your partner has been diagnosed with gonorrhea. You might not experience any signs or symptoms that prompt you to pursue medical attention. Yet without treatment, you may reinfect your partner, even after they have received treatment for gonorrhea.

Tests and Diagnosis for Gonorrhea

To determine whether the gonorrhea bacterium is present in your body, a doctor will analyze a sample of cells. The samples may be collected by a couple of different means. Urine testing can help to identify the bacteria in your urethra. A swab of an affected area, such as your urethra, throat, rectum or vagina may collect bacteria that can be identified in a laboratory.

For women, home testing kits are available for gonorrhea. Home testing kits include vaginal swabs for self-testing that are sent to a specific laboratory for testing. If you prefer, you can choose to be notified by email or a text message when the results are ready. You can then view your results online, or receive them by calling a hotline phone number.

A doctor might recommend tests for other sexually transmitted infections. Gonorrhea increases a person's risk of these infections, especially chlamydia, which often times accompanies gonorrhea. Testing for HIV is also recommended for anyone who is diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. Depending upon a person's risk factors, testing for additional sexually transmitted infections might be beneficial.

Gonorrhea Treatment and Medications

Adults with gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics. Due to emerging strains of drug-resistant, Neisseria gonorrhea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that uncomplicated gonorrhea be treated only with the antibiotic, 'Ceftriaxone,' administered through injection, in combination with either azithromycin or doxycycline, which may be administered orally. Some research indicates that oral, 'gemifloxacin,' or injectable gentamicin, in combination with oral azithromycin, is very successful in treating gonorrhea. The treatment might be helpful in treating people who are allergic to cephalsosporin antibiotics such as ceftriaxone.

The partners of people with gonorrhea should undergo testing and treatment as well, even if they do not experience any signs or symptoms. A person's partner receives the same treatment. Even if a person has been treated for gonorrhea they can be reinfected if their partner has not received treatment.

Babies born to mothers with gonorrhea receive a medication in their eyes soon after they are born to prevent infection. If an eye infection develops, babies may be treated with antibiotics.

Preventing Gonorrhea

You can take some different steps to reduce your risk of gonorrhea. These steps are described below:

  • Use a Condom: Use a condom if you have sex. Abstaining from sex is the surest way to prevent gonorrhea, although if you choose to have sex, using a condom during any type of sexual contact, to include vaginal, oral, or anal sex, can help to prevent gonorrhea.
  • Ask Your Partner to be Tested: Ask your partner to be tested for sexually transmitted infections. Find out whether your partner has been tested for sexually transmitted infection, including gonorrhea. If not, as whether your partner would be willing to be tested.
  • Do Not Have Sex with Someone Who Has Any Unusual Symptoms: If your partner has signs or symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, such as a burning sensation during urination or a genital sore or rash, do not have sex with them.
  • Consider Regular Gonorrhea Screening: Consider regular screening if you have an increased risk. Talk to a doctor about regular gonorrhea screening if you have an increased risk of infection. You might be at increased risk of gonorrhea if you have had gonorrhea or other sexually transmitted infections in the past, if you have multiple sex partners, or if you have a new sex partner.

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