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Difference between bacterial and viral STIs

Types of Bacteria and Viruses

During 2014 there were around 440,000 people finding out that they had contracted an STI in England alone. Statistics show that the groups most at risk are heterosexuals that are under 25 and homosexual men. Bacterial STI statistics have also shown that the most diagnosed sexually transmitted infection was chlamydia. The amount of people being diagnosed each year is going up and this is thought to be because more people are having unprotected sex and having to ability to meet others through internet dating sites/chat rooms adding to the amount of sexual partners a person may have during their lifetime.

There are two types of STIs that can be contracted through sexuall contact, these are:

  • Bacterial STIs
  • Viral STIs

The difference between bacterial and viral STIs are that bacterial STIs can usually be treated completely with antibiotics whereas viral STIs have no cures and can only be managed.1

Symptoms of bacterial and viral STIs

Each sexually transmitted infection has different symptoms, many with none at all which can only be discovered after being tested.2 The bacterial symptoms and viral symptoms can differ between women and men which is why a firm diagnosis is very important. Once an STI has been identified, treatment can begin.

The symptoms of an STI include:

  • pain upon urinating,
  • itching
  • burning around the penis or vagina
  • visible spots
  • lumps or sores either around the genitals or anus
  • Parasitic droppings (usually look like small specks in underwear)

These symptoms can be in both women and men; however other symptoms can differ between sexes.

Women can suffer a discharge that is yellow or green and even emits an odor. In-between the menstrual cycle bleeding can occur after intercourse and intermittently. Pain in the lower abdomen could also be a sign as can suffering new pain during sex. These symptoms may indicate something different such as thrush, but getting checked out is the only way to know for sure and receive treatment or reassurance depending on results.

Men can show signs of sexually transmitted infections such as discharge from their penis or irritation when they pass water, but as with women there is no sure way to know whether this is a water infection, thrush or something completely different.3 Doctors are used to dealing with STIs and other problems showing the same symptoms each and every day so there is no need to be embarrassed.

Bacterial STIs

Chlamydia

those that experience this infection usually do so within the first two days and up to two weeks after infection. For women the symptoms can be more serious, however they are less likely to suffer them. Women can experience burning when urinating, discharge from the vagina that is not normal for them, bleeding in-between periods, more pain during their period and sex, pain in the lower back and stomach and in some cases chills and fever like a mild flu.

At least 50% men will not experience any symptoms, if they do, they are likely to experience painful urination or ejaculation, rectal pain, red eye, and a thick, milky discharge from the penis

Gonorrhoea

this STI not only affects the genitals, it can also affect the cervix or throat. The symptoms for women, if any at all are burning while urinating, pain, itching or bleeding from the bottom, pain in the vagina or abnormal bleeding and discharge. For men the symptoms of discharge, burning on urination and pain and/or swelling of the testicles.

Syphilis

this infection is caused by the treponema pallidum bacterium and goes through different stages. The first primary is an open sore in the infected area which can appear anything between 10 and 90 days. By 8 weeks the sore will have healed but the infection will still be present. At least 70% of women that contract this infection will show no symptoms, if symptoms do occur, the most common include bleeding after sex, pain in the pelvic area, bleeding inbetween periods, pain when urinating. Syphilis is usually more common in men and is more serious as it is linked closely to HIV. Secondary syphilis produces symptoms such as skin rashes, sore throat and increased fatigue.

Tertiary syphilis is the final stage, whereby no treatment has been undergone, it is very rare for someone to reach this stage, but if they do, it can produce very serious complications on the health of the individual. Symptoms at this stage include damage to the brain, joints, lungs and nervous system.

Viral STIs

Genital herpes

this is one of the more common viral STIs and carries symptoms ranging from mild to serious of itching, blisters, groin lumps and even a fever or headache. This can also be accompanied by pain when urinating.

Genital warts

this is the most commonly spread sexually transmitted infections and is caused by the HPV (human papilloma virus). Not all those who contract this infection have visible signs and it is not known to cause any long term damage to an infected person's health. This infection is usually passed on through sexual skin contact with an infected individual and equally affects both men and women. The warts can spread from the genital region to the anus.

In women symptoms usually include small, fleshy warts around the region, usually in or around the cervix, vulva, vagina or anal region. In men, the warts are usually on the scrotum, the penis shaft, around the inner thighs or the anal region. The warts can be painless or irritating and they could also be smooth and or bulbous.The safest and most common treatment for genital warts is the application of a topical solution, with the most commonly prescribed being Condyline.

HIV

some of the more common symptoms of HIV infection - such as constant weight loss and fatigue, night sweats, loss of appetite, constant diarrhea and recurring yeast infections - are easily confused with other illnesses, so the only way to be sure you have an HIV infection is to receive proper testing from a health professional.

HIV although serious does not make people symptomatic for a long period of time, a person can be infected for years before noticing anything is wrong. The symptoms can range from constant diarrhea, weakness and yeast infections to unexplained weight loss but as these symptoms can also point other possible problems a test is the only way to be sure.

Hepatitis

is another of the common viral STI's that does not usually produce symptoms until a long time afterwards. Symptoms can include stomach pain, mild flu, tiredness, appetite loss and nausea. Jaundice can also be an indication of hepatitis B.

Implications of bacterial/viral STIs

The implications of bacterial and viral sexually transmitted infections can depend on how soon they are treated and of course the type. Generally people with common bacterial STIs can recover so long as they are treated as soon as possible after infection. With Viral STIs there is no cure, only treatment which means that keeping on top of treatment and taking precautions so as not to spread the virus to others is extremely important.

How can they be treated?

Common bacterial STIs are treated by antibiotics but they should be taken as soon as you are aware of infection and only prescribed by a medical practitioner. If taken correctly and for the entire course then the problem should go away. Certain sexually transmitted infections will only require one dose of treatment whereas others will need a longer antibiotic course. Even without symptoms if you have recently had unprotected sex with someone that has been diagnosed you should also be treated as a precautionary measure and to ensure the problem is not spread back to your partner or future partner.

With common viral STIs there is no cure as there is with bacterial. There is however treatment that will alleviate the symptoms.4 HIV, Herpes, hepatitis and genital warts are all classed as viral but out of all of them hepatitis is the only one with a vaccine that can prevent you contracting it.

Sources

1. Viral Sexually Transmitted Infections -PAMF.org

2. STI symptoms that need checking - NHS Choices

3. Signs and Symptoms of Common STDs in Men - Healthline.com

4. STD List – Different Types of Viral STDs - TheSTDproject.com

Types of Bacteria and Viruses

During 2014 there were around 440,000 people finding out that they had contracted an STI in England alone. Statistics show that the groups most at risk are heterosexuals that are under 25 and homosexual men. Bacterial STI statistics have also shown that the most diagnosed sexually transmitted infection was chlamydia. The amount of people being diagnosed each year is going up and this is thought to be because more people are having unprotected sex and having to ability to meet others through internet dating sites/chat rooms adding to the amount of sexual partners a person may have during their lifetime.

There are two types of STIs that can be contracted through sexuall contact, these are:

  • Bacterial STIs
  • Viral STIs

The difference between bacterial and viral STIs are that bacterial STIs can usually be treated completely with antibiotics whereas viral STIs have no cures and can only be managed.1

Symptoms of bacterial and viral STIs

Each sexually transmitted infection has different symptoms, many with none at all which can only be discovered after being tested.2 The bacterial symptoms and viral symptoms can differ between women and men which is why a firm diagnosis is very important. Once an STI has been identified, treatment can begin.

The symptoms of an STI include:

  • pain upon urinating,
  • itching
  • burning around the penis or vagina
  • visible spots
  • lumps or sores either around the genitals or anus
  • Parasitic droppings (usually look like small specks in underwear)

These symptoms can be in both women and men; however other symptoms can differ between sexes.

Women can suffer a discharge that is yellow or green and even emits an odor. In-between the menstrual cycle bleeding can occur after intercourse and intermittently. Pain in the lower abdomen could also be a sign as can suffering new pain during sex. These symptoms may indicate something different such as thrush, but getting checked out is the only way to know for sure and receive treatment or reassurance depending on results.

Men can show signs of sexually transmitted infections such as discharge from their penis or irritation when they pass water, but as with women there is no sure way to know whether this is a water infection, thrush or something completely different.3 Doctors are used to dealing with STIs and other problems showing the same symptoms each and every day so there is no need to be embarrassed.

Bacterial STIs

Chlamydia

those that experience this infection usually do so within the first two days and up to two weeks after infection. For women the symptoms can be more serious, however they are less likely to suffer them. Women can experience burning when urinating, discharge from the vagina that is not normal for them, bleeding in-between periods, more pain during their period and sex, pain in the lower back and stomach and in some cases chills and fever like a mild flu.

At least 50% men will not experience any symptoms, if they do, they are likely to experience painful urination or ejaculation, rectal pain, red eye, and a thick, milky discharge from the penis

Gonorrhoea

this STI not only affects the genitals, it can also affect the cervix or throat. The symptoms for women, if any at all are burning while urinating, pain, itching or bleeding from the bottom, pain in the vagina or abnormal bleeding and discharge. For men the symptoms of discharge, burning on urination and pain and/or swelling of the testicles.

Syphilis

this infection is caused by the treponema pallidum bacterium and goes through different stages. The first primary is an open sore in the infected area which can appear anything between 10 and 90 days. By 8 weeks the sore will have healed but the infection will still be present. At least 70% of women that contract this infection will show no symptoms, if symptoms do occur, the most common include bleeding after sex, pain in the pelvic area, bleeding inbetween periods, pain when urinating. Syphilis is usually more common in men and is more serious as it is linked closely to HIV. Secondary syphilis produces symptoms such as skin rashes, sore throat and increased fatigue.

Tertiary syphilis is the final stage, whereby no treatment has been undergone, it is very rare for someone to reach this stage, but if they do, it can produce very serious complications on the health of the individual. Symptoms at this stage include damage to the brain, joints, lungs and nervous system.

Viral STIs

Genital herpes

this is one of the more common viral STIs and carries symptoms ranging from mild to serious of itching, blisters, groin lumps and even a fever or headache. This can also be accompanied by pain when urinating.

Genital warts

this is the most commonly spread sexually transmitted infections and is caused by the HPV (human papilloma virus). Not all those who contract this infection have visible signs and it is not known to cause any long term damage to an infected person's health. This infection is usually passed on through sexual skin contact with an infected individual and equally affects both men and women. The warts can spread from the genital region to the anus.

In women symptoms usually include small, fleshy warts around the region, usually in or around the cervix, vulva, vagina or anal region. In men, the warts are usually on the scrotum, the penis shaft, around the inner thighs or the anal region. The warts can be painless or irritating and they could also be smooth and or bulbous.The safest and most common treatment for genital warts is the application of a topical solution, with the most commonly prescribed being Condyline.

HIV

some of the more common symptoms of HIV infection - such as constant weight loss and fatigue, night sweats, loss of appetite, constant diarrhea and recurring yeast infections - are easily confused with other illnesses, so the only way to be sure you have an HIV infection is to receive proper testing from a health professional.

HIV although serious does not make people symptomatic for a long period of time, a person can be infected for years before noticing anything is wrong. The symptoms can range from constant diarrhea, weakness and yeast infections to unexplained weight loss but as these symptoms can also point other possible problems a test is the only way to be sure.

Hepatitis

is another of the common viral STI's that does not usually produce symptoms until a long time afterwards. Symptoms can include stomach pain, mild flu, tiredness, appetite loss and nausea. Jaundice can also be an indication of hepatitis B.

Implications of bacterial/viral STIs

The implications of bacterial and viral sexually transmitted infections can depend on how soon they are treated and of course the type. Generally people with common bacterial STIs can recover so long as they are treated as soon as possible after infection. With Viral STIs there is no cure, only treatment which means that keeping on top of treatment and taking precautions so as not to spread the virus to others is extremely important.

How can they be treated?

Common bacterial STIs are treated by antibiotics but they should be taken as soon as you are aware of infection and only prescribed by a medical practitioner. If taken correctly and for the entire course then the problem should go away. Certain sexually transmitted infections will only require one dose of treatment whereas others will need a longer antibiotic course. Even without symptoms if you have recently had unprotected sex with someone that has been diagnosed you should also be treated as a precautionary measure and to ensure the problem is not spread back to your partner or future partner.

With common viral STIs there is no cure as there is with bacterial. There is however treatment that will alleviate the symptoms.4 HIV, Herpes, hepatitis and genital warts are all classed as viral but out of all of them hepatitis is the only one with a vaccine that can prevent you contracting it.

Sources

1. Viral Sexually Transmitted Infections -PAMF.org

2. STI symptoms that need checking - NHS Choices

3. Signs and Symptoms of Common STDs in Men - Healthline.com

4. STD List – Different Types of Viral STDs - TheSTDproject.com

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