What is C-Diff?

“C-Diff” is the common name for clostridium difficile, remedy a germ that causes problems in the digestive tract such as diarrhea, usually in people taking antibiotics long term. More than 500,000 people contract C-Diff annually, most often seniors, although more cases are occurring among a younger population.

Many people actually have the bacteria in their digestive tract throughout their life without complication, but like any of the other thousands of bacteria we carry with us, an imbalance or interference can switch them from harmless to harmful. Antibiotics are often to blame for C-Diff colitis, as they affect the balance of bacteria in the gut, which is why people who take them for an extended period, or who take more than one at a time, are more likely to catch it. However, it can also be contracted from outside the body; the spores can survive on surfaces for a long time, so it is also spread through unclean hands, sheets, medical equipment, etc. This is one reason it is so common in hospitals and care facilities.

Symptoms of a C-Diff infection can range from mild to very severe: watery diarrhea accompanied by pain or tenderness in the abdomen, as well as fever or loss of appetite occur most often. In more serious cases, there may also be blood or pus in the stool, weight loss, nausea and kidney failure, and the diarrhea can occur up to 15 times in one day. Dehydration is a typical side effect of this. The infection attacks the lining of the intestines, which can lead to a hole there if left untreated, and the colon is also at risk of damage, including becoming so distended from an inability to expel waste that it can rupture.

Toxicology tests of a stool sample are a typical method of testing. In some cases, a colon examination is necessary, but this is uncommon

To treat C-Diff, it is often recommended that you stop taking the antibiotic you were on before the infection developed – but of course discuss this with your doctor first. Counterintuitively, the infection is usually treated with antibiotics that fight the C-Diff strain. Taking probiotics, bacteria that are beneficial to your gut, can also help. In the meantime, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate and wash your hands and other surfaces frequently to avoid passing the infection to others.


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