What You Need to Know about Clostridioides Difficile
Clostridioides difficile is a bacteria commonly found in the human gut. Symptoms of infection include watery diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting. In most people, symptoms go away on their own. However, in some people, especially those older or with weakened immune systems from another medical condition or medications, C. difficile can cause a serious infection that can lead to death. There are 20,000 cases of C. difficile every year among hospital patients alone.
It is a growing problem nationwide and poses a real threat to anyone recently treated for an illness or surgery at any hospital or healthcare facility with inadequate sanitary conditions. If you have been recently admitted to the hospital for any reason–or have another serious illness that makes you more susceptible to contracting this infection–be aware of the signs and risk factors listed below.
What are the Signs & Risk Factors for C. difficile?
The most common symptoms of C. difficile infection are: If you are in a healthcare facility and notice any of these signs, it is important to notify your healthcare provider or facility. If you have any of these risk factors, you will likely get C. difficile. These include:
- Being over 65 years old,
- Being treated with antibiotics
- Having a weakened immune system
- Having had a recent surgery
- Having a recent hospitalization Having a colostomy or ileostomy
- Having a central venous catheter
- Having been on antibiotics for more than 2 weeks.
What Can You Do to Prevent Contracting C. difficile?
The best way to prevent C. difficile is to follow these precautions:
1. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of non-carbonated fluids to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration, which can increase your risk of developing C. difficile infection.
2. Clean your hands
Wash your hands before touching your face or any part of your body to prevent the spread of bacteria and minimize the chance of contracting C. diff-related infections.
3. Avoid unnecessary antibiotics
If you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure you understand the reason for taking them. If you do not need antibiotics or if you have been on antibiotics for more than 2 weeks, discuss discontinuing or switching antibiotics with your doctor.
4. Ask about infection rates
If you are in a hospital or in a healthcare facility, ask about their infection rates. If there is a higher risk of infection, ensure you are extra careful.
5. Avoid fecal contamination
If you have a colostomy or ileostomy, avoid getting fecal matter on your skin or clothing. Wear gloves if you have to clean your stoma.
6. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom
In addition to washing your hands regularly while in the hospital, it is also important to wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
7. Stay in touch with your doctor
If you have been hospitalized, make sure to stay in touch with your doctor. If you have a weakened immune system or any other health condition that makes you susceptible to C. difficile, ask your doctor if you should get tested for C. difficile.
What is the Treatment for C. difficile?
The main treatment for C. difficile is antibiotics. Though this may sound counterintuitive, antibiotics effectively treat C. difficile because they kill the bacteria causing the infection.
Improve hygiene: Improving hygiene is another way to prevent the spread of C. difficile in your environment.
Avoiding certain foods: Avoid raw foods like fruits and vegetables to prevent C. difficile spores from contaminating food.
Avoiding alcohol: Alcohol may increase the risk of C. difficile–associated diarrhea.
Avoiding certain medications: Make sure you talk to your doctor before taking medications like probiotics, colostrum, or Vitamin C to prevent C. difficile diarrhea.
Avoiding antibacterial soaps: Antibacterial soaps may actually increase the risk of C. difficile.
Getting plenty of rest: Rest is important for healing and recovering from an illness, so be sure to get plenty of rest.
What are the Complications of C. difficile Infection?
Some of the complications of C. difficile infection may include:
Blood infections, kidney failure, and heart failure: Blood infections and kidney failure may be a complication of C. difficile.
Death: C. difficile can be fatal in some cases, especially in people with weakened immune systems.
How can you protect yourself from catching C. difficile in a hospital or health care facility?
You can take a few steps to minimize your risk of contracting C. difficile while in a hospital or other healthcare facility.
- Ask about infection rates
If you are going to be admitted to a hospital or other healthcare facility, ask about the infection rates. Hospitals with higher infection rates are at higher risk for C. difficile.
- Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of non-carbonated fluids to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration.
- Wash your hands
Wash your hands and avoid touching your face to prevent the spread of bacteria and minimize the chance of contracting C. difficile.
- Minimize antibiotics
If possible, avoid taking antibiotics while in the hospital to reduce the risk of contracting C. difficile.
- Stay in touch with your doctor
If you have been hospitalized, stay in touch with your doctor. If you have a weakened immune system or any other health condition that makes you susceptible to C. difficile, ask your doctor if you should get tested for C. difficile.
Final Words: Understanding Clostridioides Difficile
C. difficile is a serious infection that can lead to hospitalization, severe diarrhea, dehydration, and even death. The best way to prevent C. difficile is by not taking antibiotics. If you find yourself needing to be treated with antibiotics, there are several steps you can take to help protect yourself from C. difficile.
However, if you were recently admitted to the hospital for any reason or if you have another serious illness that makes you more susceptible to contracting this infection, be aware of the signs and risk factors listed above. Ask your doctor about testing for C. difficile to be sure the infection has not set in.