Clostridium Difficile Colitis (C. Diff)

May 23, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Having any type of gastrointestinal issue is always uncomfortable. In addition to the hardship that comes with experiencing stomach pain, they also tend to be highly disruptive of everyday life — as well as embarrassing. Nobody wants to tell friends or coworkers about their changed bathroom habits or why they’re not feeling well. Unfortunately, such tends to be the case with Clostridium Difficile Colitis. What, exactly, does it mean to be diagnosed with it? What are the symptoms? And, what can you do to treat it?

What is clostridium C. Diff. colitis?

Clostridium difficile colitis (C. diff) is a bacteria that causes inflammation of the colon and diarrhea. However, not everyone who has the bacterium in their rectum becomes sick. The infection develops if there are too much bacterium present in the digestive tract.

C. Diff. Colitis Causes

There are three main causes of clostridium difficile colitis. Patients usually develop it after using antibiotics. It’s also a condition that tends to occur in people who have been hospitalized long-term. Finally, it can spread through fecal matter ending up in the mouth. Main causes aside, it’s also possible to get the bacteria if you’re relatively healthy and haven’t taken any medications. In fact, approximately 15% of adults have C. diff in their intestines — and it can spread through not washing your hands thoroughly after going to the bathroom, then touching shared surfaces.

C. diff is the leading cause of hospital-related gastrointestinal issues. And, since the condition is also contagious, it’s possible to spread it through sharing personal items and close living spaces.

C. Diff. Colitis Symptoms

The symptoms of clostridium difficile colitis can range from mild to severe. However, it is possible to spread the infection even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms. For those who do, typical signs include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Watery diarrhea two or three times a day

In more severe cases, you could end up with an enlarged colon and experience more serious symptoms. These include:

In the worst of cases, you could develop toxic megacolonsepsis, or bowel perforation — which can spill bowel bacteria into your abdominal cavity. In these cases, the patient will be admitted into an intensive care unit (ICU). If not treated promptly, these conditions could result in death.

C. Diff. Colitis Treatment Diagnosis

If you or a loved one are at a high risk of contracting C. diff — whether from long-term hospitalization or antibiotic use — your physician will order a stool test or an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) test to look for the toxins created by the clostridium difficile colitis bacteria. If your doctor suspects there may be complications from the condition — such as a thickening of the colon or bowel perforation — they may also order a CT scan.

C. Diff. Colitis Treatment

C. diff is treated by taking antibiotics. However, if the condition was caused by long-term antibiotic medications in the first place, you will first be required to stop taking that specific medication. If there’s a risk of organ damage or bowel perforation, your medical provider will recommend surgery to remove the damaged portions of the colon. If the disease is recurrent, your doctor may suggest a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) to restore healthy bacteria to the intestines.

Preventing Clostridium Difficile Colitis

C. Diff can be prevented by taking simple precautions around your home. These include:

1. Washing Your Hands

Do this every time you go to the bathroom and after arriving home from being anywhere. If you are a caregiver, wash your hands before providing care for a loved one. If you get visitors, have them wash their hands prior to seeing your ill family member.

2. Thoroughly Cleaning

Disinfect all shared surfaces with bleach — as this is the only chemical that kills the C. diff bacteria. This is especially important in the bedroom and bathroom of an ill loved one who requires at-home caregiving.

3. Using Antibiotics Sparingly

Always follow your prescribing doctor’s instructions — failing to do so will cause the underlying infection to return. However, avoid taking them for simple conditions and ask your doctor whether a recommended prescription is available for the shortest period of time possible.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids are here to help.

Our home care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent caregivers to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.