Manage and Prevent
C Diff Infections
One cause of severe diarrhea is an infection of the intestine called C Diff. Other terms used to describe this infection include C difficile, Clostridium difficile colitis and Pseudomembranous colitis.
You can see why the medical community shortened the term to C Diff !
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include stomach cramping, mild or severe diarrhea usually with a foul odor, lack of appetite (called anorexia), vomiting, fever, lethargy and dehydration.
It must be said: NEVER USE ANY ANTI DIARRHEA AID TO TREAT CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFICILE. The body is attempting to flush out the toxins to help prevent damage to the intestines.
What is C Diff Infection?
Basically, this infection is caused by "bad bacteria" overrunning the "good bacteria" in your body. The key to maintaining good health is is to keep the balance right.
Antibiotic overuse, or even appropriate use, can cause the good bacteria in the gut to die off, allowing the bad bacteria to multiply. The toxins released by clostridium difficile attack the lining of the intestines, causing inflammation referred to as colitis.
Is C Diff contagious? Yes. It is one of the nosocomial infections that can spread rapidly in hospitals and nursing homes. Nosocomial means that the infection appeared directly after admission or discharge from a health care setting.
This infection can be passed from person to person by the fecal (stool) to oral route. Frequent handwashing and cleaning surfaces contaminated with stool can help prevent cross transfer to other family members.
Managing C Diff At Home
Once the diagnosis is made by a stool test, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics that help kill off the bacteria causing the infection. Ironic that C Difficile Colitis is both caused by and treated with antibiotics !!
To manage this infection at home, you will have two clear goals. First, treating your loved one AND preventing cross contamination to other family members.
Here's a list of things that are necessary to reach those two goals.
- Assure your loved one is taking in plenty of fluids. Good fluids to try are fruit juice, broths and even soda. Try diluting with water if necessary.
- Good nutrition is vital for recovery. Try foods that are starchy, like crackers, noodles and rice. Small meals with frequent snacks may work best. Sauerkraut and miso, as well as live culture yogurt, can help replenish good bacteria.
- Try adding probiotics. Talk to your doctor about this. It will help replenish some of the good bacteria that are necessary to reach that balance.
- Medications prescribed need to be taken as scheduled. The most likely medications are Flagyl and Vancomycin, either alone or in combination.
- Watch for signs of dehydration and notify your doctor immediately if you suspect dehydration. Check the tongue for deep furrows. Another way is to lightly pinch and pull up the skin on the back of the hand. It should rapidly return to normal. If it doesn't, it is called "tenting" and is an indicator of dehydration.
- Handwashing is vital to prevent cross contamination. Wash hands with soap and warm water. You are physically removing the spores by washing hands. Hand sanitizers do NOT kill the Clostridium Difficile bacteria or the spores.
- Wash all contaminated surfaces including floors with a diluted bleach solution.
- Use 1/4 cup of bleach in all laundry loads.
- If any member of the family comes down with symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Preventing C Diff Infections
The prevention of this infection is linked to avoiding contamination and using antibiotics only when necessary. Keeping healthy and eating a diet that is well balanced are crucial.
C Diff is the next super bug. The spores can live outside the body for a long time. Make sure to follow up with your doctor once the antibiotic course is complete. They should do another stool sample to make sure the infection has cleared.
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