General Information about Clostridium Difficile Disease – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Clostridium difficile, also called Clostridioides difficile and sometimes referred to as C. difficile or C. diff, is a bacterium that can create symptoms of C. difficile ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Sickness from C. difficile most commonly influences older adults in hospitals or in long-term care facilities and typically happens after the use of antibiotic medicines. However, studies show increasing rates of C. difficile infection among people traditionally not considered to be at high risks, like young and healthy individuals who have not used antibiotics and who have not been in a health care facility. Every year in the United States, about a half-million people get sick from C. difficile, and in recent years, C. difficile infections have become more rapid, serious and tough to treat. Revive of C. difficile infections also are on the rise.

Symptoms of Clostridium Difficile

Some people carry the bacterium C. difficile in their intestines but never become ill, though occasionally may still expand the infection. Signs and symptoms of C. difficile typically rise within five to ten days after beginning a course of antibiotics but may happen as soon as the first day or up to two months later. The most common symptoms of C. difficile vary from mild to moderate infection and severe infection. Symptoms are included below

1) Watery diarrhea disease
2) Mild abdominal cramping and tenderness
3) Abdominal pain, which may be serious
4) Frequent heart rate
5) Fever
6) Blood or pus in the stool
7) Nausea and Vomiting disorder
8) Dehydration problem
9) Loss of appetite
10) Weight loss
11) Swollen abdomen
12) Kidney failure
13) Increased white blood cell count

Clostridium Difficile Causes

C. difficile bacteria are found throughout the environment in soil, air, water, human and animal feces, and food products, like processed meats. A small number of healthy people usually carry the bacteria in their large intestines and do not have adverse effects from the infection that causes Clostridium Difficile.
Spores from C. difficile bacteria are passed in feces and expand to food, surfaces, and objects when people who are infected do not wash their hands thoroughly. These spores can persist in a room for weeks or months. If you touch a surface contaminated with C. difficile spores, you may then not knowingly swallow the bacteria that cause Clostridium Difficile. Once established, C. difficile can generate toxins that attack the lining of the intestine. The toxins kill cells, produce patches of inflammatory cells and decaying cellular debris inside the colon, and make watery diarrhea.

Complications of Clostridium Difficile

There are several complications of Clostridium difficile seen. They are

1) Dehydration problem
2) Kidney failure
3) Toxic megacolon
4) A hole in the large intestine
5) Death

Clostridium Difficile Diagnosis

Doctors sometimes suspect C. difficile in anyone who has diarrhea and who has other risk factors for C. difficile. In such cases, doctors are likely to order one or more of the following tests for the diagnosis of C. difficile.

1) Stool test
2) Colon exam
3) Imaging test

Treatment of Clostridium Difficile 

The first step in treating C. difficile is to stop taking the antibiotic that triggered the infection, when possible. Based on the severity of the disease, treatment of Clostridium Difficile may involve:

1) Antibiotics
2) Surgery

Clostridium Difficile Prevention

To assist the prevention of Clostridium difficile, hospitals and other health care facilities follow strict infection-control guidelines. If you have a friend or family member in a hospital or nursing home, do not be afraid to remind caregivers to follow the suggested precautions. The prevention of Clostridium difficile include

1) Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics
2) Hand-washing
3) Contact precautions
4) Thorough cleaning


Updated: February 1, 2020 — 12:31 pm

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