Clostridium difficile colitis (commonly known as "c diff" for short) is a potentially serious and life-threatening infection of the intestine. The C diff bacteria is naturally occurring and is present in the intestines in a small percentage of patients. In small numbers it does not cause disease. The bacteria can be acquired from other persons with the bacteria; so it is potentially contagious. It can also proliferate in patients taking certain antibiotics, namely Ampicillin, Clindamycin and Cephalosporins. Antibiotics have been found to disrupt the normal digestive tract flora and can cause the C diff bacteria to multiply. This can result in active C difficile infection.
Infectious C difficile colitis results in the production of toxins in the bowel, which can cause numerous symptoms, including diarrhea, cramps, fever, high white blood cell counts, dehydration and potentially…sepsis and toxic megacolon. Once the diagnosis of C diff has been confirmed by laboratory testing of the stool, the patient requires prompt treatment. Here are some recognized do's and don'ts in patients who are being treated for c diff:
While a potentially serious condition, c diff, if promptly and correctly treated usually results in a favorable outcome. Even in patients with the more recent and serious strain of c difficile colitis, which carries with it a slightly increased risk of mortality, approximately 80-83% of patients survive. Patients with increased risk factors for a less favorable outcome include: patients who are 65 or older, patients who acquire the infection in the hospital, and, patients who are immunosupressed. Contrarily, those patients without the foregoing risk factors tend to have better short and long-term outcomes.
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