Clostridium difficile is a type of bacteria that commonly infects older adults in a hospital setting or those that have been on antibiotic treatment. Recently, however, a much younger demographic and even those people that have not taken antibiotic treatment have started to be affected by Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) infections.
The C.difficile bacteria can remain in human intestines without necessarily causing an infection. When a patient starts to take antibiotics, though, it then this bacteria uses the reduction in normal gut bacteria as an opportunity to thrive.
Some of the symptoms associated with C.difficile infections include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, pain in the stomach, and tenderness. In severe cases, dehydration, nausea, increased heart rate, loss of appetite, and kidney failure may also occur.
Treatment of Clostridium difficile infection in adults:
It is a bit difficult for patients to understand how a condition that is caused by the use of antibiotics is also treated with the use of antibiotics! The idea here is to stop the antibiotic that is causing havoc to the normal intestinal bacterial populations and choose one that is effective against C. difficile infection.
Metronidazole, vancomycin, and fidaxomicin are some of the antibiotics that may be prescribed by your doctor.
For people with a severe infection, organ failure, or a diseased colon that is not responding to antibiotics, the only treatment option is to surgically remove the affected part.
The rationale behind this treatment procedure is to repopulate your intestinal bacterial populations with health-promoting ones and thus treating the C.difficile infection organically. The stool of a healthy donor is transferred into the intestine of the affected individual using a colonoscope.
This area of treatment is still considered to be relatively new and although final judgment may be reserved, the initial results have been nothing short of spectacular.
The use of probiotics to try and restore the balance of the organisms in the gut and intestine has been tried extensively as well. There have been mixed results with some studies claiming excellent results while others doubting their efficacy altogether.
It may be worth a try for affected individuals that want to avoid invasive procedures or continue to have recurrent infections after getting treated at an earlier stage.
Prevention of Clostridium difficile infections
Following some standard hygiene protocols is the only way to prevent C.difficile infections.
- Self-medication with antibiotics should be avoided. Too many times, people end up taking antibiotics when none are necessary. Taking the wrong kind of antibiotics or when not necessary can lead to the development of drug resistance in the body. It can also wreck the normal, health-promoting bacterial populations leading to the rise of opportunistic infections like C.difficile.
- Healthcare attendants or even visitors are advised to wash their hands with soap and warm water in between seeing the patients.
- Contact between the affected individual and non-affected patients/visitors should be minimized
- All surfaces should be cleaned thoroughly with a chlorine-containing bleach
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