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Gonorrhea in the throat

May 8, 1998

In one of your answers you said, "For example, if you give a man oral sex, and that man has gonorrhea, you could get infected with gonorrhea in the throat, whether the man ejaculates or not. Gonorrhea can cause a discharge that can be very infectious if it gets into the throat (or penis/rectum/vagina) of another person"

How would a throat infection present?

Would any course of antibiotics (say for a bronchial infection) necessarily kill the gonorrhea strain?

Thanks for your helpful answers.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. If you give a person oral sex, and that person has Gonorrhea, you can get the infection in your throat. Although this infection can be transmitted to the throat when giving oral sex to a woman, there is a greater likelihood of infection when giving oral sex to a man.

When Gonorrhea is found in the throat, it is called "Pharyngeal Gonorrhea". Many people who have Gonorrhea in the throat, also have the infection in other parts of their body as well (penis, rectum, or vagina). Most people (approximately 90%) who have Pharyngeal Gonorrhea do not have any symptoms in the throat. However, when symptoms are seen, they can include pharyngitis, a sore throat, and tonsillitis. Occasionally there can also be fever and swollen glands in the neck. However, I must strongly emphasize that ALL of these symptoms are identical to the symptoms of many other illnesses. Therefore, having these symptoms alone does NOT mean you have Gonorrhea! Gonorrhea in the throat can only be diagnosed by having a culture done for this infection. When Gonorrhea gets in the throat, left untreated, there is a chance the infection can spread into the bloodstream, causing a rare serious complication called "Disseminated Gonococcal Infection".

Some antibiotics that work for genital or rectal Gonorrhea, will not work adequately against infections in the throat. Therefore, if a person has Gonorrhea in the throat, they can only be treated with certain antibiotics. If a person has Gonorrhea in the throat, genital area, or rectum, they can sometimes have genital infections with Chlamydia at the same time. Therefore, if a person is diagnosed with Gonorrhea, they are routinely treated for both Gonorrhea and Chlamydia at the same time. Chlamydia is curable with other types of antibiotics (different from those that treat Gonorrhea).

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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