Clostridium difficile, also known as C-diff, is a type of bacteria that attacks the lower digestive system. While many people who contract the bacteria never get sick, others become very ill as the infection becomes nasty quickly, sometimes being fatal to the host. People taking antibiotics are far more likely to become ill if they have C-diff in their systems. Antibiotics take out infections, but they also interfere with the healthy bacteria that life in the intestines; when these good bacteria are compromised, the Clostridium difficile expands and causes illness.
The symptoms of Clostridium difficile vary depending on the severity of the infection, though its treatment usually remains the same across the board. Harvard Medical School reports that people who are in good health can carry the bacteria without ever getting sick. For those who do fall ill, by far the most common symptom of Clostridium difficile is diarrhea. According to the Mayo Clinic, diarrhea will occur multiple times daily and persist for two or three days. It can also be accompanied with abdominal discomfort that is associated with bad diarrhea.
Symptoms of Clostridium difficile in stronger infections are also dominated by diarrhea, but it becomes far more frequent, persists for an extended period of time, and is accompanied by a variety of other possible symptoms. In strong cases, diarrhea can occur as often as a dozen times in a day. Additional symptoms of Clostridium difficile can include blood in stool, nausea, and a fever. In the worst cases, the infected may experience a drop in blood pressure, more profuse bleeding, and dehydration from the persistent diarrhea.
Treatments for Clostridium difficile will vary depending on the severity of the condition, though just about any C-diff infection that is treated medically will be attacked with antibiotics. However, since so many cases are brought on by other antibiotics, the first step in treatment for Clostridium difficile is typically ending, postponing, or otherwise modifying any existing antibiotic courses.
Mild cases of C-diff will simply dissipate after a few days, generally after the responsible antibiotics are discontinued. Different antibiotics that target Clostridium difficile bacteria are used in most cases. According to the Mayo Clinic, sometimes probiotics will be prescribed to help restore the normal good bacteria of the intestines. This can help to hold the Clostridium difficile bacteria in check and reduces the risk of future flare-ups.
In the worst cases, additional treatments for Clostridium difficile are employed. To avert potentially life-threatening consequences, surgery may be necessary to remove the infected portion of the intestines.
Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, is a type of bacterium responsible for a nasty intestinal infection. The most common symptom of Clostridium difficile is persistent diarrhea which occurs multiple times per day over the course of multiple days. While antibiotics are often the cause, other antibiotics are also the solution. If you have any questions about C-diff bacteria or infections, talk to your doctor.
C. difficile. Mayo Clinic.
Clostridium difficile: An intestinal infection on the rise. Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Harvard Medical School.