What Are Symptoms And Signs Of Clostridium Difficile
Symptoms of C. diff begin with watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, frequent bowel movements, and sometimes nausea. Common symptoms of bacterial infections such as dehydration, elevated body temperature, abdominal cramping, and loss of appetite can be present.
Extreme discomfort, fatigue, vomiting, bloating, and tenderness in the abdomen are all signs that a Clostridium difficile infection might be present and could be worsening. Blood tests may show you have an elevated white blood cell count, which is not enough for a conclusive diagnosis. Testing for the toxins produced by activated C. diff bacteria can provide a more clear diagnosis.
Going beyond blood tests, stool samples can provide direct evidence of the existence of C. diff by identifying the bacteria in the feces. In severe cases, a pooling of white blood cells in the intestine is possible, which results in a whitish membrane-like deposit called a pseudomembrane. Psuedomembranes are only visible during a colonoscopy, so symptoms must be severe or the infection persistent to require this method of diagnosis.
Are There Any Complications
While most C. diff infections dont cause any long-term problems, more serious ones can lead to complications, such as:
- Toxic megacolon. Toxic megacolon is a rare condition that causes a grossly enlarged colon. Left untreated, your colon can rupture. This can be fatal.
- Bowel perforation. Damage from the infection or toxic megacolon can cause a hole to form in your intestines.
- Kidney injury. In severe cases of C. diff infection, rapid dehydration can lead to acute kidney injury.
Despite its resistance to many cleaning products, there are several things you can do to prevent yourself from developing or spreading a C. diff infection.
Follow these tips to reduce your risk:
- Wash your hands regularlywith soap and warm water. This is especially important after using the bathroom and before eating.
- Dont take antibiotics unnecessarily. Keep in mind that antibiotics are only effective for bacterial infections and wont treat a viral infection, such as the flu or common cold.
- Keep surfaces in high-use areas clean. This includes bathrooms and kitchens. Try to periodically clean these areas with products containing bleach. Bleach is effective against the C. diff bacterium.
What You Need To Know About Clostridium Difficile
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , Each year, more than 2 million people in the United States get infections from germs that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result. C. difficile infectionswhich can occur after using antibioticskill at least another 15,000 Americans a year.
What is Clostridium difficile infection?
Your body has a lot of good and necessary bacteria. It also has some bad or dangerous bacteria. Clostridium difficile is part of the normal bacteria found in some peoples intestines or colons. Fortunately, when you are healthy and are not taking antibiotics, the millions of good bacteria in your system keep the C. diff under control and in smaller numbers. However, when you take an antibiotic, the levels of good bacteria are reduced down to a smaller number. This makes it possible for the C. diff to overpopulate your intestine or colon. When this happens, you may get the illness called Clostridium difficile colitis.
C. diff produces spores when attacked by antibiotics. The spores can live in the open air or in dirt for up to two years. Normal disinfectants are not effective against the spores. This means that even if you kill the C. diff bacteria, spores can still be present. This is why you can get rid of the C. diff symptoms when being treated with medicine, but it can come back later.
What are the symptoms of C. diff infection?
How is C. diff treated?
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Looking After Yourself At Home
If you’re well enough to be treated at home, the following measures can help relieve your symptoms and prevent the infection spreading:
- make sure you finish the entire course of any antibiotics you’re prescribed, even if you’re feeling better
- drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and eat plain foods such as soup, rice, pasta and bread if you feel hungry
- take paracetamol for tummy pain or a fever
- don’t take anti-diarrhoeal medication, as this can stop the infection being cleared from your body
- regularly wash your hands and contaminated surfaces, objects or sheets
- stay at home until at least 48 hours after your last episode of diarrhoea
Your GP may contact you regularly to make sure you’re getting better. Call them if your symptoms return after treatment finishes, as it may need to be repeated.
Clostridia Dopamine And Autism
We have established that infection with Clostridia can impact dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine levels. Lets talk about how this manifests in psychiatric illnesses in particular.
Research has shown that Clostridia had high concentrations in the urine of children with autism the severity of the autism was directly related to a higher concentration of HVA in the urine as well . There are also dopamine metabolites, 3–3-hydroxypropionic acid and 4-cresol, that have high levels within the urine of both autism and schizophrenia .
An enzyme called dopamine beta-hydroxylase is responsible for changing dopamine into norepinephrine . Children who had autism had lower levels of this enzyme which is drastic for physiological conditions as an excess level of dopamine with low levels of norepinephrine makes the dopamine try to compensate for the lack of norepinephrine . This compensation could possibly cause permanent brain, adrenal glands, and sympathetic nervous system damage if this goes on for a long period of time as it creates free radical damage . This compensation can also cause obsessive, compulsive, stereotypical behaviors as well as reduced exploratory behavior and learning in novel environments .
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What Causes A C Diff Infection
C. difficile infection is more common after antibiotic use. When you take antibiotics to get rid of a bacteria that causes an infection, you may also get rid of the useful bacteria in your colon. This leads to C. diff overgrowth and results in a C. diff infection. Infections can happen while youre taking the antibiotic and up to 8 weeks after.
Consult A Physician Or Pharmacist
If there is a specific medication, whether it is an antibiotic or not, that affects you or your aging loved one adversely, its important to take note of this and report it to the prescribing doctor. The physician has weighed the risks and benefits of this drug and prescribed it for a reason, but it is important to follow up with them if it is causing serious side effects. It could indicate an adverse reaction or that it isnt the right drug for the bug that is responsible for the initial illness. Even if a side effect is merely bothersome, the doctor may be able to suggest a different drug and should add a note to the patients medical file for future reference.
Antibiotics are incredibly helpful for fighting dangerous infections, but it is important to only take them when they are needed and follow the prescription instructions exactly. Antibiotic overuse and misuse of can cause more harm than good.
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Complications Of C Diff
- Toxic megacolon
The severe diarrhea caused by C. diff can lead to a significant loss of fluids and electrolytes, making it difficult for your body to function normally. In turn, this can cause blood pressure to drop to dangerously low levels.
In some cases of C. diff infection, dehydration occurs so rapidly that kidney function deteriorates, leading to kidney failure.
In addition, toxic megacolon is a rare condition that can develop after C. diff infection. If your colon is unable to expel gas and stool, it can become greatly distended, potentially causing it to rupture and allow bacteria to seep into your abdominal cavity .
Toxic megacolon requires emergency surgery and can be fatal if left untreated. A bowel perforation, or hole in your large intestine, is a rare complication that results from extensive damage to the lining of the organ following toxic megacolon.
C. diffC. diff
When To Seek Medical Care For C Diff
If an individual has watery diarrhea, especially after administration of antibiotics or a recent hospitalization, C. difficile colitis should be suspected. Your physician should be notified in order to properly evaluate the diarrhea.
If the symptoms are severe, such as the presence of a high grade fever, severe diarrhea, moderate to severe abdominal pain, or signs of dehydration, hospitalization may be required for supportive care and treatment of the infection.
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How Do You Treat C Diff
The first step in treating C. diff infections is to discontinue the course of antibiotics that caused the infection in the first place. The next step is to begin taking an antibiotic that will treat the C. diff infection. There are a limited number of these drugs, including metronidazole , vancomycin , and fidaxomicin.
Even if the infection subsides after using one of these antibiotics, it is possible that symptoms may return. If symptoms return, a different course of antibiotics is often recommended. In addition to exploring other antibiotics, other forms of treatment can also be considered, especially in cases were complex or recurring cases of C. diff persist. Probiotics, or naturally occurring microbes that have properties beneficial to the host, are considered by some doctors to help restore a proper bacterial balance in your intestines. Other physicians, however, discourage the use of probiotics on the basis there is not enough clinical data regarding particular formulations of these microbes to guarantee a positive effect.
Surgery is not generally recommended to treat C. difficile infections, but it may become necessary if the colon could be at risk of rupture or perforation. If a patient has been admitted to an intensive care unit, other forms of treatment are not providing relief and there may be a risk of bowel perforation and peritonitis, it may be necessary to remove the portion of the colon that has become affected.
Signs And Symptoms Of C Diff
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- Watery diarrhea three or more times per day for two or more days
- Fever above 100.4 degrees F
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain and cramps
In severe cases, C. diff infection may cause:
- Watery diarrhea up to 15 times per day
- Swollen abdomen, with severe cramping and pain
- Elevated heart rate
- Stool containing blood or pus
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Liver or kidney failure
- Increased white blood cell count
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How Is Pseudomembranous Colitis Diagnosed
The health care provider diagnoses the condition by analyzing the stools for C. difficile toxin. Blood tests may also be done to check for signs of infection and dehydration. If the diagnosis isnt clear or therapy isnt helping, sigmoidoscopy can be done. In this procedure, a lighted flexible tube is inserted into the rectum to look at the bowel and to get tissue samples for study with a microscope. Abdominal x-rays or CT scanning may be done if complications are suspected.
Clostridia And The Gut
Have you ever gotten food poisoning? If so, you might have been infected by two different types of clostridium: C. perfringens and C. botulinum . Clostridium is a group of 80+ bacteria that could have potentially harmful effects on your body as they reside in your digestive system .
But did you know that these bugs can also interfere with your dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine metabolism?
You might have heard of the most popular type of clostridia, called C. difficile or C. diff. C. difficile normally resides in people who are taking antibiotics or have been hospitalized . But new studies show that you can get C. diff from being in contact with someone who has this bacteria or by not washing your hands well enough after defecating . A mild to moderate infection of this particular bacteria results in symptoms such as watery diarrhea a few times a day to mild cramping and tenderness in your abdominal area .
But there are other symptoms from clostridium that are more worrisome than diarrhea and cramping. Clostridium can be linked to autism, schizophrenia, and other neuropsychiatric disorders .
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How Is It Treated
First, if possible, your doctor will have you stop taking the antibiotic that caused the infection. Your doctor may then treat Clostridioides difficile colitis with an antibiotic other than the one that caused the infection. You will likely take fidaxomicin, metronidazole, or vancomycin. Sometimes the infection comes back a few days after you stop treatment. If this happens, you may be given another antibiotic.
If you have severe diarrhea, you also may be given fluids to prevent dehydration and to make sure you have the right amount of minerals in your blood. Or you may get a medicine called a bile salt binder that can help control the diarrhea.
For people who are not helped by antibiotics, a fecal transplant may be done. This treatment places stool from a donor into the colon of a person who has C. diff infection. The good bacteria in the donor stool helps get rid of the C. diff bacteria and restore health to the colon.
Probiotics, which are bacteria that help keep the natural balance of organisms in the intestines, may be helpful for people who have repeated C. diff infections.
In rare cases, a person might need surgery to remove part of the intestines. This would happen only if you did not get better with antibiotics and you developed a perforation in your intestines.
Side Effects Requiring Immediate Medical Attention
Along with its needed effects, vancomycin may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking vancomycin:
- bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- bloody or cloudy urine
- difficult, burning, or painful urination
- dry mouth
- lower back or side pain
- mood changes
- Change in the frequency of urination or amount of urine
- redness or other discoloration of the skin
- scaling or welting of the skin
Incidence not known
- blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
- blurred vision
- continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
- feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
- feeling of fullness in the ears
- lower back or side pain
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- red skin lesions, often with a purple center
- red, irritated eyes
- ringing or buzzing in the ears
- sensation of spinning
- sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
- unusual bleeding or bruising
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What Are The Symptoms
Clostridioides difficile colitis may cause:
- Diarrhea .
- Abdominal cramps.
You also may have an abnormal heartbeat, especially if you become dehydrated.
Symptoms usually begin 4 to 10 days after you start taking antibiotics. But they might not start until a few weeks after you stop taking antibiotics.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your doctor may think you have Clostridioides difficile colitis if both of the following are true:
- You are taking, or you recently took, antibiotics.
- You have symptoms of the illness. These may include:
- Watery diarrhea .
- Swelling, cramps, pain, or tenderness in the belly.
To confirm the diagnosis, a sample of your stool will be tested. The test will check for the bacteria by looking for its DNA. Another test may be done to look for the toxins that C. diff produces.
Your doctor may look at the inside of your colon through a thin, lighted tube called a colonoscope. In the most serious cases, the doctor may see patches of yellow and white tissue on the inside of the colon.
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What Causes It
The large intestine normally contains many good bacteria that keep it healthy and do not cause disease. If you take antibiotics to kill bacteria that do cause disease, your medicine may also kill the good bacteria. This may allow Clostridioides difficile bacteria to grow in your large intestine and release harmful substances called toxins. Experts also think that, in some cases, antibiotics may cause these toxins to be released.
When the toxins are released, the colon becomes inflamed.
People who take medicines that reduce stomach acid, such as Nexium, Prevacid, or Losec, also have a greater risk of getting a C. diff infection. Your doctor can help you decide which medicines to keep or change.
C. diff may be spread when an infected person does not wash their hands after using the toilet and then touches something like a door handle, bed rail, or phone. This may leave C. diff bacteria on the objects. Other people can get infected if they touch a contaminated object and then eat or rub their faces with their hands. Health care workers can pass this bacteria from room to room in a hospital or a long-term care facility.
The best way to prevent spreading C. diff is to wash your hands often, especially after you use the toilet. It is also a good idea to wash your hands before and after you visit a hospital, nursing home, or other place where people may be ill or weak. Use soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not work well against C. diff.
What Is C Diff
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium commonly found in the soil, air, and water. It is present in small amounts in the bodies of 1 to 3% of the U.S. population. Under normal circumstances, it doesnt cause any harm. But it is opportunistic, and if given room to grow, it multiplies and crowds out the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can happen during or after a course of antibiotics, which are meant to kill bacteria that cause infections, but also end up wiping out the helpful bacteria.
When a C. diff infection takes hold, it releases toxins that inflame the lining of the colon, causing symptoms ranging from slightly loose stools to severe diarrhea, as well as fever and abdominal pain.
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