Difference Between Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are both sexually transmitted infections (STI). Both transmit via intimate contact. Both infections are bacterial and respond to antibiotics. Both infections thrive in immune-compromised individuals. Both infections present with same symptoms most of the time, but there are differences between the symptomatology, which are discussed here in detail.


Chlamydia affects various systems. Therefore, chlamydia symptoms vary according to the affected organ system. Chlamydial pneumonia is the commonest chlamydial infection in the body. It spreads via droplets. It causes sore throat, hoarseness of voice, ear infections followed by pneumonia. It is easily diagnosed with blood tests for chlamydial infections. Chlamydial pneumonia responds well to tetracycline.

Chlamydia psittaci causes psittacosis. It is a disease acquired from infected birds. Symptoms include headache, fever, dry cough, lethargy, arthralgia, anorexia, dizziness and vomiting. Extra pulmonary features are legion, but they are rare. It can cause meningitis, encephalitis, infective endocarditis, hepatitis, nephritis, rash and spleen enlargement. Serology for chlamydia confirms the diagnosis of chlamydia. Chest x-ray shows patchy consolidation (seen as shadows on the x-ray film). The best treatment for chlamydia psittaci is tetracycline.

Chlamydia causes a sexually transmitted disease (STD), which presents with urethral or vaginal discharge. Chlamydial genital infection may be asymptomatic or can present as ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia may spread upwards along the vagina and uterus to cause pelvic inflammation. This results in adhesions around the fallopian tubes and which may give rise to ectopic pregnancies. Urethral swab for chlamydia is diagnostic. Chlamydia antigens and nucleic acid probe assays also are confirmatory tests.


Gonorrhea is a urinary tract infections caused by Neisseria gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a bacterium that can survive inside the cells. When seen under a high power optic microscope after Gram staining, they appear as Gram negative diplococci. When a bacterium is globular shaped it is called a coccus and when a bacterium is rod shaped it is called a bacillus. Diplococcus means that bacteria occur in pairs.

Gonorrhea spreads via intimate contact. The bacterium can cross damaged or inflamed skin and mucus membranes and colonize tissue surfaces. Urethra is the commonest site of infection in men. Gonococal urethritis presents with severe burning pain while urinating, purulent discharge from urethra, lower abdominal pain, fever, and malaise.

Diagnosis of Gonorrhea is straightforward, and treatment should not be delayed till microbiological diagnosis comes through. Definitive diagnosis is made by examining a culture of urethral pus swab. Supportive treatment and antibiotics effective against Gram negative bacteria are the principles of managing Gonorrhea. Women may get vaginitis, cervicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and urethritis with Gonococcal infection.

What is the difference between Gonorrhea and Chlamydia?

• Chlamydia is an extracellular organism while gonorrhea is an intracellular organism.

• Gonorrhea mainly affects the urinary tract while Chlamydia affects other systems just as commonly.

• Chlamydia causes systemic illness more commonly than Gonorrhea.

• Gonorrhea is commoner than Chlamydia.

• Both infections respond to different antibiotics.


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