C. difficile

Clostridium difficile (c. difficile) is a bacteria that can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms like colitis. It is especially common in children who have recently been on antibiotics for a long period of time. Children are also at a higher risk for C.difficile infections if they have been in the hospital, especially for a long time, have a chronic illness, and/or a problem with their immune system.

Some people carry the bacteria in their intestines but never get sick. They can still spread the infection to others. C. difficile bacteria can be spread in feces and food—especially when people who don’t wash their hands completely. The bacteria produce spores that can stay in a room for weeks or months. If you touch a surface that has C. difficile you can pick up this bacteria.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of mild to moderate C. difficile infection are:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Mild abdominal cramping and tenderness.

In severe cases of infection, symptoms can include:

  • Watery diarrhea 10-15 times a day.
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Kidney failure
  • Increased white blood cell count.

Testing

Toxins produced by C. difficile bacteria can usually be detected in a stool sample. To help confirm a diagnosis of C. difficile, the doctor may examine the inside of the colon. This test, called a colonoscopy, involves inserting a flexible tube with a small camera on one end into the colon to look for areas of inflammation.

Treatment

C. difficile can go away on its own if the antibiotic that started the infection is stopped. In other cases, the treatment might be another antibiotic like Flagyl that will keep the bacteria from growing. In addition to taking medication, probiotics have“good” bacteria that may help keep C.difficile from coming back.

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