C Diff (Clostridium difficile)

Clostridium difficile also referred to as ‘C Diff’ is a bacteria which can cause diseases ranging from diarrhea to colon inflammation. This disease often affects older people and usually attacks after the consumption of antibiotic medication. However, even the young healthy individuals might be affected despite them not being exposed to any antibiotics.

Causes of C Diff

C. diff bacteria are normally found in the environment and hence, most average healthy people carry the bacteria in their intestines. C Diff is naturally present in air, soil, human feces, water, food products like processed meat, etc. When infected people do not wash their hands, C Diff bacteria, being contagious, spread across and enters the body. These bacteria then continue living in the intestines of the human body. Usually the antibodies in the intestine keep the bacteria at bay and protects the body from infection. However, if antibiotics are consumed for the treatment of an infection, they can destroy some good bacteria, resulting in C Diff taking control and causing some illness. The antibiotics which lead to C Diff infections include cephalosporins, clindamycin, fluoroquinolones and penicillins. Due to the lifestyle of men where they are often exposed to people and the external environment, it most often affects them.

Symptoms of C Diff

The symptoms of mild C diff infection include:

  • Mild cramping of the abdomen
  • Watery diarrhea for 3 or more times, 2 or more number of days

In severe cases of C Diff, people become dehydrated & may require hospitalization. C. diff causes the intestinal colon to become inflamed causing formation of raw tissue patches which might bleed causing pus. The symptoms of severe C diff infection include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Watery diarrhoeafor 10 to 15 times in a day
  • Pus or blood in the stool
  • Abdominal cramping causing severe pain
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Kidney failure
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Increased count of white blood cells

Diagnosis of C Diff

Doctors might ask the patient to undergo the following test to confirm the presence of C Diff

1) Stool tests: Toxins which the C Diff bacteria produces can be detected in the stool sample. The tests which can be used to determine the presence of bacteria include:

  • Enzyme immunoassay
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Cell cytotoxicity assay

2) Colon examination: The doctor may examine the inside of the colon to detect the presence of C Diff virus. In this test, a flexible tube having a camera mounted on it is inserted inside the colon to identify Ipseudomembranes and inflammated areas.

3) Imaging tests: The doctor might also ask the patient to undergo an X Ray or a CT Scan to get a detailed image of the colon.

Treatment of C Diff

For the treatment of C Diff, the doctor might recommend the following:

1) Antibiotics: The doctor might recommend an antibiotic like metronidazole (Flagyl) for mid C Diff infection. This bacteria treats diarrhea and stops C diff bacterium from growing. For recurrent and severe cases, doctor might recommend fidaxomicin (Dificid) or vancomyccin.

2) Surgery: In case of severe pain, inflammation to the lining of the abdomen or organ failure, doctor might request the patient to undergo a surgery to remove the unhealthy portion of the colon.