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The average digestive tract of a person has as many as 1,000 different species of microorganism. Most of then are harmless; some are even helpful in normal cases. But when something upset the balance of organism inside the gut, harmless bacteria can grow out of control, and a make you sick. One of the worst types of the bacterium is called Clostridium difficile or C. difficile. This bacteria overgrows and release toxins that attack the lining of the intestines digestive tract-causing a condition called Clostridium difficilecolitis.
Although this condition is rare compared to other intestinal bacteria, C. diff is one the largest causes of infectious diarrhea in the United States.
Symptoms of C. Diff
C. diff infection can range from mild to life threatening severity. A symptom of mild cases includes water diarrhea, three or more times a day for several days, tenderness and abdominal pain.
C. diff symptoms of higer severity include;
- Loss of appetite
- Blood or pus in the stool
- Severe abdominal pain
- Water diarrhea, up to 15 times a day
- Weight Loss.
In some cases, C. Diff infection can lead to a hole in the intestines and can be fatal if not urgently treated.
C. diff can be diagnosed by stool specimens tested for the toxins. In some cases. A colonoscopy may be required for diagnosis, and more test ordered.
C. diff Risk Factors
Even though C. diff sometimes causes problems in healthy individuals, it is most likely to affect patients in medical facilities such as hospitals, or long-term health care facilities. Most people have a condition that require extended treatment with antibiotics, which eliminate other intestinal bacteria that keep C diff in control. While the use of any antibiotic can lead to C. diff overgrowth, it ordinarily occurs with the use of an antibiotic that is broad-spectrum or able to destroy a wide variety of bacteria. It also transpires more often when multiple antibiotics are required to fight infection when the antibiotics need to be taken for a long period.
Other risk factors for C.diff infection may include:
- A weakened immune system
- Previous C. diff infection
- Kidney disease
- Use of chemotherapy drugs
- Disease of the colon and inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal cancer
- Surgery of the gastrointestinal GI tract
- Advanced age 65 or older
- Uses of medications called proton-pump inhibitors, which reduce stomach acid.
Treatments for C. diff diarrhea
Physicians will typically prescribe a 10 to 14-day course of one of the following oral antibiotics: vancomycin (Vancocin). Dificid (fidaxomicin) or metronidazole (Flagyl). Flagyl is normally tired. First, improvement typically happens within 72 hours after starting the antibiotics treatment. However, diarrhea may return temporally. The second round of antibiotics is required in about 25% of cases.
In addition to antibiotics medications, treatment plans may include
Probiotics – These are viable in most drug and food stores without the need of a prescription. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that colonize the gut. They may help keep the C.diff infection from occurring again if taken along with prescribed medicines. But further research is needed to see if this helps.
Fluids . During plenty of water and other fluids or getting intravenous fluids can help guard against dehydration from diarrhea.
Additional treatments that are being studied of severe C diff infection include treatment with monoclonal antibodies and fecal transplant.
Preventing C. diff infection
Once a person has C. diff infection, the infection can spread to other people C diff spores are in the feces can live on dry surfaces for a long time. Someone who touches one of those surfaces can pick up the infection/
Fortunately, the infection can be prevented. If you are visiting a heath care facility or are in contact with someone who has the infection, maintaining good hygiene is vital. Take the following precautions to help keep yourself and others safe.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Do not only rely just on alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Wash solid clothing with detergent and chlorine bleach
- Do not use antibiotics unless your doctor recommends them.
- If you are visiting someone in a hospital or health care facility, wash your hands befoe and after your visit If you sue the restroom, wash your hands very well to eliminate possible C diff spores.
- Clean surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens regular with chlorine bleach -based products.