What is C-Difficile?
Clostridium difficile, often referred to as C-difficile, is a bacterium that causes symptoms like diarrhea and colitis (a life-threatening inflammation of the colon). This illness is common in older adults that are in long-term healthcare facilities. C-Difficile mostly occurs after the use of strong antibiotic medication. However, a recent study suggests that young and healthy individuals, who aren’t considered at high risk, have shown increased rates of C-Difficile. These individuals didn’t use any antibiotics or stayed at a medical facility even.
Symptoms of C-Difficile Infection
Some of the people that have the Clostridium difficile bacterium in their intestines may never show any symptoms and fall sick. However, they can still spread the infection in rare cases. The symptoms of the disease usually develop in 5-10 days after you start a strong antibiotic course, but may even start the first day in some cases or up to two months later.
1. Mild to Moderate Infection
In case of a mild to moderate infection, the symptoms are:
- Watery diarrhea that lasts for two to several days.
- Abdominal tenderness and cramping is mild in nature.
2. Severe Infection
The individuals that suffer from a severe C-Difficile infection can become dehydrated due to frequent diarrhea and may even need to get hospitalized. This bacterium can cause colon inflammation that can lead to bleeding and pus due to raw tissue. Symptoms of severe infection are:
- Watery diarrhea for more than 10 days
- Severe abdominal cramping and pain
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Blood/Pus in stool
- Weight loss
- Kidney failure
- Swollen abdomen
- Increased white blood cell count
The severe infection can lead to intestinal inflammation, sepsis, and enlargement of the colon. People with severe infection and symptoms are often admitted to the intensive care unit.
C-Difficile Bacteria is present throughout our environment, from air to soil to water, processed food, and even the waste of both humans and animals. Some people even carry it in their large intestines and aren’t affected by it. Spores from this bacterium are passed in feces and may spread to surfaces, food, and objects. People who don’t wash their hands thoroughly can get this infection by touching such surfaces. The spores have the tendency to persist at room temperature for months at an end. You can swallow the bacteria after touching such a surface and get infected. The bacteria produce toxins that attack your intestinal lining while destroying cells, producing patches, and even causing inflammation of the colon and watery diarrhea.
New Strain of C-Difficile
A more aggressive strain of the bacterium has emerged that produces more toxins compared to the previous ones. This aggressive strain is resistant to medication and has been established in many people who haven’t taken antibiotics or been to any hospital.
The human intestines contain 100 trillion bacterial cells and 2,000 kinds of bacteria. Most of these bacteria protect us against infections. When we take antibiotics for any treatment, the medication tends to destroy some of the good bacteria, which makes us prone to bacterial infections. With the good bacteria, the C-difficile tends to attack and grow rapidly. Some of the antibiotics that cause this infection are:
The first crucial step towards treating this infection is giving up on the antibiotic that triggered it. Treatment of the infection will be according to the severity of your symptoms:
The treatment for C-difficile is antibiotic. Ironic, isn’t it? But these antibiotics prevent the bacteria from growing while preventing diarrhea and other complications. Your doctor will prescribe one of the following antibiotics:
- Vancomycin (Vancocin HCL, Firvanq)
- Fidaxomicin (Dificid)
If the infection is so severe that it causes extreme pain, organ failure, colon inflammation, etc., the doctor may have to resort for surgery to remove the infected part of the colon.