Know the basics
What is clostridium difficile infections?
The bacterium named Clostridium difficile (or C. diff) causes mild illness such as diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation (swelling) of the intestine (colon). Infection usually occurs after using antibiotics and are the most common ones that people get while they’re in hospitals.
How common is clostridium difficile infections?
Clostridium difficile infection is more common in people aged over 65 and in people staying in hospitals and long-term care facilities. However, even healthy people may get sick after prolonged antibiotic therapy.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of clostridium difficile infections?
Symptoms of clostridium difficile include:
- Watery diarrhea 10 to 15 times a day.
- Cramping and pain in the abdomen (belly) that can be severe.
- Others are fever, blood or pus in the stool, nausea, dehydration, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Severe illness can mean an inflamed colon (colitis) or patches of colon tissue that can bleed or make pus (pseudomembranous colitis).
Some infected people never become sick but can still spread infection: they are called “carriers”.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have watery diarrhea more than 3 times a day and the symptoms last more than 3 days.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above, especially with fever and sever stomach pain, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes clostridium difficile infections?
C. diff is associated with illness after use of antibiotics such as clindamycin, peniciline, fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins. Bacteria and dormant spores are spread by contact with stool and contaminated surfaces or food including bedpans, furniture, linens, and toilet seats.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for clostridium difficile infections?
There are many risk factors for clostridium difficile infections, such as:
- People on antibiotics treatments;
- People with other diseases;
- Old people.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is clostridium difficile infections diagnosed?
Diagnosis is suspected if there is a history of antibiotic use and the onset of typical symptoms. Diagnosis is confirmed by blood and stool tests.
Sometimes the colon is examined by flexible sigmoidoscopy and computed tomography (CT).
How is clostridium difficile infections treated?
Stopping use of the antibiotic that triggered the infection is critical and may be the only needed treatment. Others may need a treatment course with a new antibiotic (metronidazole or vancomycin). These antibiotics keep C. diff from growing, while allowing normal bacteria to grow in the intestine.
Fever usually goes away in 2 or 3 days, and diarrhea, in 3 or 4 days. Fluids are given for dehydration. Good nutrition is important.
Other possible treatments are probiotics or, in severe cases, surgery to remove diseased parts of the colon. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeast that help restore a healthy balance of microorganisms in the intestine.
Relapse is common and needs more treatment.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage clostridium difficile infections?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with clostridium difficile infections:
- Remember that hand-washing with soap and water.
- Take antibiotics prescribed for c. Diff until they’re finished.
- Drink plenty of fluids containing water, salt, and sugar, such as diluted fruit juice, soft drinks, and broths.
- Eat starchy foods if you have watery diarrhea. Potatoes, noodles, rice, cream of wheat, oatmeal, and saltine crackers are good.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print Edition
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017