C. diff colitis is inflammation of a person’s colon due to contagious bacteria. Most people with C. diff colitis fully recover, but in rare cases the condition can be life threatening.
Clostridioides difficile, which people commonly refer to as C. diff, is a germ that often causes mild stomach-based symptoms. In some cases, C. diff can
It is possible for someone with C. diff to be asymptomatic. This means they can carry the toxin that produces C. diff and transmit it to others, but they do not experience symptoms.
In this article, we will explore what C. diff colitis is, the symptoms of C. diff colitis, whether it is contagious, its causes and risk factors, and its diagnosis and treatment. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about C. diff colitis.
Colitis occurs when the lining of a person’s large intestine, or colon, becomes inflamed and swollen. Colitis has many possible
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that C. diff causes almost
People with a CDI may develop the following symptoms a few days after taking antibiotics:
However, in some people, symptoms may take
If a person’s CDI causes C. diff colitis to develop, they may experience additional symptoms. Common additional mild symptoms of C. diff colitis include abdominal cramps and leukocytosis, which is a high white blood cell count.
- severe ileus, in which a person cannot move stool out of their bowels as usual
- toxic megacolon, a very painful, extreme inflammation and distension of a person’s colon
- hypovolemia, in which the volume of liquid in a person’s blood is too low
- hypotension, or low blood pressure
- renal dysfunction, or kidney failure
- colonic perforation and peritonitis, in which the contents of a person’s colon leak into their abdomen
- septic shock, or very low blood pressure
Some of these complications, such as toxic megacolon and septic shock, are life threatening. People with these complications need immediate medical treatment.
C. diff is highly
People who carry C. diff without symptoms can
- wash their hands with soap and water every time they use the bathroom and before eating
- use a separate bathroom from others if they have diarrhea
- take showers and wash with soap
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers
Most cases of C. diff and C. diff colitis happen when people take or stop taking antibiotics. People are
Antibiotics treat bacterial infections by eliminating harmful bacteria in a person’s body. However, they sometimes also eliminate helpful bacteria that protect people from infections such as C. diff.
People may be at greater risk of a CDI if they:
- are over 65 years old
- have recently stayed in a nursing home or healthcare facility
- have a weakened immune system because of a condition such as cancer or HIV
- are taking immunosuppressive drugs after an organ transplant
- have had a previous CDI
- have had exposure to C. diff germs
- have been taking antibiotics for longer than a week
But people who do not have any of these risk factors can still develop a CDI.
However, people may have C. diff germs in their body that are
- oral vancomycin, as the intravenous form is not effective
- metronidazole, generally if other treatments are not effective
Doctors usually instruct people to take these antibiotics for 10 days. A person’s C. diff symptoms should improve within a few days.
Doctors may tell a person to stop taking antibiotics that may have caused their CDI.
People can develop C. diff more than once. If a person’s CDI returns two or more times, doctors may offer them a fecal microbiota transplant. During this transplant, doctors give a person bacteria from the stool of someone without C. diff. This bacteria helps stop a person’s CDI.
If a person’s C. diff colitis becomes severe, they may
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about C. diff and C. diff colitis.
How serious is C. diff colitis?
C. diff colitis can be a very serious condition. Only
Are C. diff and colitis the same thing?
No. C. diff is an infectious bacteria, or germ. Colitis is inflammation of a person’s colon, which the C. diff bacteria can cause.
Is there a cure for C. diff colitis?
Yes. But people who receive successful
Can people get C. diff more than once?
How can someone tell if C. diff is getting better?
People with a CDI usually stop
What does C. diff poop look like?
Clinicians often consider green poop to be a sign of C. diff. However, in a 2019 study, researchers assessed the stool colors of people with C. diff infections and found no statistically significant correlation between C. diff infections and a person’s poop color.
The researchers did note that the study’s sample size was small and that they had not considered other factors, such as diet.
C. diff colitis is a serious and life threatening condition caused by a C. diff bacterial infection. People may get C. diff infections when they come into contact with C. diff bacteria or take antibiotics that can allow the overgrowth of the bacteria.
People can help stop the spread of C. diff and prevent cases of C. diff colitis by washing their hands frequently.