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Diarrhea? What You Don't Know About C. Diff Can Kill You

If you are experiencing symptoms of digestive distress, make sure your provider rules out C. Diff bacterium. C. Diff is a condition that can severely compromise your immune system and which poses significant health risks if left untreated. Be informed about your risk factors and possible treatment for C. Diff. It is true that what you don't know about C. Diff can harm — and even kill — you.
What Is It?
Clostridium Difficile, or C. Diff, is a digestive disorder which, if left untreated, can cause colitis or a perforated bowel. C. Diff is very contagious and is spread through bacteria in feces, which can be transmitted through the air. The best defense against C. Diff is hot water, soap, and vigilant hand-washing.
How Do You Catch It?
C. diff seems to run rampant in healthcare facilities where staff and patients may encounter and transmit the bacteria. It is possible to have this bacteria in your intestinal tract and be completely unaware and asymptomatic. Other people, particularly seniors, may develop symptoms due to a weakened immune system, which correlates with transmission in doctor offices, emergency rooms, and skilled nursing facilities.
What Are the Symptoms?
Individuals experiencing several bouts of watery diarrhea daily should be assessed for C. Diff. Abdominal pain or cramping is also a sign of this debilitating condition. Providers also look for blood in the stool when testing for C. Diff. Some other indicators of this illness are nausea, lack of appetite, weight loss, recurring dehydration, and an elevated heart rate.
Are You at Risk?
Seniors and those living in communal living situations are most at risk for C. Diff. Individuals that are on or that have been on antibiotics are also in danger of contracting C. Diff; those with weakened immune systems due to health or age are more likely to be vulnerable to the transmission of C. Diff bacteria. Sharing bathrooms and combining laundry with someone who is infected can also put you at a greater risk of contracting C. Diff.
How Is It Treated?
Typically, C. Diff is treated with medication such as very strong antibiotics. Quick action is needed as it is easy to become dehydrated with C. Diff due to the diarrhea, which could impact your vital organs. Providers may also recommend taking probiotics, such as those found in yogurt, to help build up healthy bacteria in your digestive system.
Talk with your provider about Vancomycin side-effects, as they can include weakness, dizziness, and chest spasms.
Is It Life Threatening?
C. Diff can be life threatening. In fact, it kills around 15,000 people each year in the U.S. The dangers for elderly patients include the risk of dehydration, which can have a significant and irreversible impact on your kidneys, brain, heart, and lungs.
What's the Prognosis?
The prognosis for those affected by C. Diff can be good with treatment and without recurrence. It is estimated that it can take patients a year to fully recover from one infection of C. Diff bacterium; recurring bouts or complications, such as age and health history, can make recovery more difficult. In some severe cases, a stool transplant can help the colon produce healthy bacteria.
Be informed about the signs and symptoms of C. Diff, as well as the significant health risks that it presents. Have your provider conduct blood testing to identify infection and to evaluate you for C. Diff.
Talk to your pharmacist at Trans Alliance Med & Drugs about side effects and warnings related to medications used to treat C. Diff. Since C. Diff can recur, make sure to follow up with your physician for tests to ensure that the infection is gone. Take your medication in its entirety and as prescribed by your doctor; supplement your diet with probiotics, such as yogurt, for the best prognosis and recovery.