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Clostridium Difficile

What is Clostridium Difficile?

Clostridium difficile (also known as C. difficile or C. diff) is a bacterial organism that can cause diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon. It can affect people of all ages but most often infects older adults in hospitals, healthcare facilities and nursing homes. More and more we are seeing this as a community acquired infection at any age.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 314-996-3627 or contact us online.

Symptoms of C. Diff

Symptoms of C. diff can range from mild to severe watery diarrhea. Below are the common symptoms associated with a c. diff infection.

Mild Disease Symptoms

  • Watery diarrhea 3+ times a day
  • Mild abdominal cramping

Severe and Life-Threatening Disease Symptoms

  • Watery diarrhea 10+ times a day
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Kidney failure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding (rare)

Risk Factors

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Long-term use of antibiotics
  • Exposure to people with C. difficile
  • Use of proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, etc.)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Kidney disease (dialysis patients often are infected)
  • Surgery of the GI tract
  • Chemotherapy or other immune deficiency conditions
  • 65 years of age or older
  • Previous C. diff infection

Complications

Complications from C. diff infections can be mild to severe and can include dehydration, kidney failure, toxic megacolon, and perforation(a hole in the large intestine) and death due to multi-organ failure.

Diagnosis and Treatment

C. diff is diagnosed by a physician and/or gastroenterologist based on the medical history, stool testing, and colon examination and imaging testing.

General Approach to Treatment

The first step in treating C. diff is with one of 3 specific oral antibiotics. Antibiotics treat mild to moderate C. diff. For severe cases of C. diff, doctors suggest intravenous and/or antibiotic therapy by enema. Fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) (also known as fecal transplantation) is a new approach at Missouri Baptist for relapsing cases or severe cases of C. diff.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 314-996-3627 or contact us online.

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