Find out more about this potentially serious gastrointestinal infection and its symptoms.
While most people will deal with bouts of gastroenteritis (colloquially referred to as the “stomach bug”), diarrhea, and even food-borne illnesses such as e. coli, there is another infectious strain that doesn’t get as much recognition but does infect close to half a million Americans each year. This infection is known as C. diff, and our Wausau, WI, gastroenterologists are here to tell you more about it.
What is C. diff?
C. diff, or Clostridium difficile, is a bacterial infection of the large intestine that can cause everything from mild diarrhea to more severe diarrhea and abdominal pain with dehydration. Severe cases can be life-threatening.
What are the symptoms?
C. diff can cause a variety of symptoms that mimic that of other conditions. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and tenderness
If you are dealing with a mild case, you may experience diarrhea and other symptoms for anywhere from five to 10 days. Those with more severe cases may experience symptoms that last well over 10 days.
Since the most classic symptom of C. diff is diarrhea, it’s common for patients to become dehydrated. If you are experiencing diarrhea for more than two days, if there is blood in your stool or if your diarrhea is accompanied by a fever, you should call our Wausau GI doctors right away.
How do you contract C. diff?
Most cases of C.diff infection occur in people who have recently taken an antibiotic for an infection elsewhere in the body. The antibiotic has killed most of the healthy bacteria in the colon. This allows the C.diff to grow and cause the infection in the large intestine. The C.diff can spread from one infectious person to another or through contaminated utensils or clothes. C.diff is more likely to spread in places like hospitals where more patients are on antibiotics and can come in contact with the bacterium.
How is C. diff treated?
Even though there are certain antibiotics that can increase your chances of developing C. diff, if you do develop this infection the best way to treat it is with a round of antibiotics that kill the C.diff bacteria. Metronidazole (Flagyl) and oral Vancomycin are common antibiotics used for treating C. diff.
Sometimes the infection is resistant to treatment. A longer course of these antibiotics or a different antibiotic may be required. A small number of patients may require “Fecal Material Transplantation”. This is a procedure in which healthy bacteria are placed in the colon to combat the C.diff infection.
The team at GI Associates is dedicated to providing comprehensive and gentle digestive treatment and care whenever you need it most. We have locations in Wausau, Stevens Point, Woodruff, Eagle River, Rhinelander, and Antigo, WI. Whether you are dealing with symptoms of C. diff or you are experiencing other issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to us right away to get your GI system back on track.