Our throat harbors countless bacteria. Of course, the majority of them are harmless, yet there are one particular bacteria in the throat, and it’s far from harmless – that one is gonorrhea.
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According to WHO (the World Health Organization), for the last couple of years, more and more people have been infected by it, predominantly in the African region.
Just a few years ago, 2.2 million people were registered to have gonorrhea, 850,000 of which received treatment, statistics show. In 2018, just a year after the statistics were published, the gonorrhea prevalence rate for East and South Africa went up to 1.7%.
Researchers say, vaginal and anal intercourse is not the only reason behind the increase in gonorrhea infections – oral sex is as well. In fact, the throat is like a “silent vessel” for gonorrhea. For anyone infected with this STD, it’s easy to transmit the infection via oral sex.
What Makes the Throat a “Silent Vessel”?
Compared to just a decade ago, gonorrhea was much easier to deal with. But, with the constant increase in numbers, particularly in Africa, the infection has become a more troublesome one. Now, it’s resistant to older drugs.
When it comes to the throat, there is one particular problem. Oral gonorrhea is a lot more difficult to treat and detect. Since the throat contains plenty of other bacteria, the infection can pick up a resistance to drug treatments straight from these bacteria. Once the resistance starts to manifest, Gonorrhea can easily pass it on during intercourse and oral sex. Here is why.
When you expose the body to drugs, whether it is to treat an infection or an illness, all the bacteria in the throat will be exposed to it. The more you take the drugs/antibiotics, the higher the chance of them boosting the bacteria resistance, making the treating process a lot more difficult to complete.
How Do the Gonorrhea Infiltrate the Throat?
This whole process begins with tiny DNA molecules that rely on plasmids. All the genetic material of the bacteria are inside these molecules. When the plasmids are in close proximity to another similar plasmid, they become very easy to transmit.
If the primary plasmid already has genes resistant to drugs, gonorrhea will also obtain these properties. At the moment, 30% of gonorrhea infections have high-resistance to drugs. The sole reason for that is the genes.
Why Is This a Problem?
Not everyone in the sub-Saharan African region uses condoms, particularly during oral sex. The main concern is that if the infection is not stopped on time, it will be a lot more difficult to treat correctly. The longer it manifests in the throat, the harder it will be to manage, stated Dr. Michel Mullen for Independent.
This is not just a problem for Africa, but for the world as well. More than 78 million globally get infected with gonorrhea. Recently, the numbers have been rising, and there is no sign they will stop anytime soon.
Since proper treatment and preventive measures are expensive for poorer regions, like the African continent, the infection has become more problematic. The exact same problem is registered in Canada, South America, India, China, the U.S., and Indonesia as well.
Why Is Early Diagnosis Important?
Proper on-time treatment, makes the infection a lot easier to control. The bacteria is less likely to become drug-resistant, and if it does, the treatment can be changed to better suit the body’s needs. To get diagnosed, all it takes is an oral sample taken from the affected area. That sample is then transported to a lab to see whether or not someone carries an infection.
What Happens If You Avoid Treatment?
Oral Gonorrhea can and will spread to the genitals. This can result in discomfort, pain, and plenty of other issues, like infertility, inflammatory conditions, and more.
For women, this is a tremendous burden. Bringing a healthy child to this world means everything, but the longer the infection is left to manifest in the system, the more difficult it becomes to give birth to a healthy child. If the infection progresses to a higher extend, doctors can suggest “off-label” meds to provide the much-needed relief.
Luckily, this infection is treatable, but early detection and adequate treatment is the key to making it work. This is very important for a healthy life.