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C diff infection is a very common, contagious bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile. It causes colon inflammation and diarrhea that can last for weeks or even months. Learn about symptoms and effective treatments to avoid this potentially deadly condition.
C diff is a type of bacteria that causes infections in the intestines. It can be found in feces and urine, but it’s most commonly found in the latter. C diff has been known to cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and fatigue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, Clostridium difficile infection (also known as C. diff) is one of the most frequent drug-resistant risks to our community. According to a 2015 CDC research, C. difficile was responsible for approximately 500,000 infections in patients in the United States in only one year. So is it possible for C. diff to cause death? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Around 15,000 individuals died due to their C. difficile infections among the half-million. Over 80% of the fatalities occurred in those aged 65 and over.
When it comes to C. diff, what is the most significant risk factor? Antibiotics, in a nutshell. “Patients who use antibiotics are most at risk for C. difficile infections,” according to the CDC. According to the CDC, patients taking antibiotics are 7 to 10 times more likely to get C. diff during their treatment and during the following month.
It used to be thought of as a serious health issue that mostly affected the elderly who were given antibiotics while in a hospital or nursing home. However, new study has shown that C. diff infection is becoming more common among younger and healthier people. Is C. diff a dangerous infection? In recent years, C. diff has become a more prevalent and more difficult to treat dangerous colon infection.
Recurrent cases of C. diff are becoming even more of a problem than first-time cases of C. diff, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and C. diff is being linked to the use of proton-pump inhibitors (commonly used for acid reflux) and corticosteroids, in addition to antibiotic use.
So, what precisely is C. diff, what are the most prevalent C. diff symptoms, is C. diff infectious, and what is the best natural therapy for C. diff? We’re going to talk about all of this and more!
What is C. Diff?
Clostridium difficile [klo–strid–ee–um dif–uh–seel] (C. difficile) is a type of bacteria that causes inflammation and infection of the colon, known as colitis. C. diff (sometimes mistakenly shortened to “c dif” or “cdif”) is the proper shortened version of Clostridium difficile (C C. diff is also a common abbreviation for infectious colitis. The official term for the colon infection caused by the Clostridium difficile bacteria is Clostridium difficile colitis. This bacterium strain may produce various symptoms in the body, from diarrhea to life-threatening instances of C. diff colitis or infection.
The bacterium may be found in soil, water, animal feces, and human intestines. Is it true that everyone has C. diff? It’s believed that up to 3% of people and 66% of infants have the bacterium without showing any signs or symptoms. The large intestine of humans generally includes a variety of beneficial microorganisms that keep it healthy. People with Clostridium difficile in their intestines may not have any problems if their beneficial bacteria keep the Clostridium difficile at bay. A C. diff infection, on the other hand, may arise when the body’s bacterial equilibrium is disrupted, most typically as a result of antibiotic use. Antibiotics destroy the harmful bacteria that cause your illness, but they also kill the important healthy bacteria essential for gut and overall health! According to some experts, antibiotics may cause C. diff bacteria to emit toxins that are harmful to the colon.
How long does C. diff keep a person contagious? There is no specific response to this question since it is dependent on the individual, their treatment regimen, and the body’s ability to fight the illness. What we do know is that C. diff spores (found in an infected person’s feces) may live for a long period. According to research, both asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals may shed C. difficile spores into the environment, and they can live for up to five months on inanimate surfaces. So what is the contagiousness of C. diff? It’s very contagious if you encounter someone or anything that has infectious spores on it.
Symptoms and Signs
Clostridium difficile is found in many people’s intestines, but the bacterium does not cause them any difficulties. C. diff may not produce any symptoms if other healthy bacteria are kept in control. However, when anything (most often antibiotic use) throws off the balance of bacteria in the body, a problem might arise, and C. diff can begin to develop fast.
What is the normal incubation time for C. diff? C. difficile is thought to have a three-day median incubation time. “Signs and symptoms generally arise within five to ten days after beginning a course of antibiotics,” according to Mayo Clinic, “although they may occur as soon as the first day or up to two months later.”
What are the early symptoms of C. diff infection? Mild stomach cramps and soreness, and diarrhea (C. diff stool appearance is watery) that happens three or more times per day for two or more days are the most typical early signs of an infection. What causes this to happen? C. difficile bacteria may generate toxins that assault the colon’s lining, damaging cells and causing patches of inflammatory cells to form, resulting in watery diarrhea.
The following are some of the signs and symptoms of a C. diff overgrowth:
- Diarrhea with a lot of water
- Stool with a foul odor
- Appetite loss.
- Tenderness and/or discomfort in the abdomen
The colon gets inflamed due to a C. diff infection, which is medically known as colitis. In addition, the production of toxins from the overpopulation of C. diff bacteria may sometimes cause even greater harm to the colon. Pseudomembranous colitis is when the colon develops raw tissue patches that may bleed or pus. If a Clostridium difficile infection progresses to this stage, there are more symptoms and they are more severe. C. diff is the most common cause of pseudomembranous colitis.
A severe C. diff infection may cause the following symptoms:
- 10 to 15 times a day, watery stool
- Cramping and discomfort in the abdomen, which may be severe
- Abdominal swell
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in the stool or pus
- Heart rate that is quite fast
- Loss of weight
- An increase in the number of white blood cells
- Failure of the kidneys
What is the severity of a C. diff infection? People with severe episodes of c. diff diarrhea often get dehydrated to the point where they need to go to the hospital to avoid additional complications such as renal difficulties. A C. difficile infection may also result in toxic megacolon, which causes the colon to enlarge, become unable to expel gas or feces, and perhaps burst. Poisonous megacolon may lead to death if emergency surgery is not performed soon. Bowel perforation (a hole in the large intestine that enables hazardous germs to escape) is another potential consequence of c. difficile colitis. It may lead to a deadly illness termed peritonitis.
Is it true that having had a previous illness makes you immune? Regrettably, it does not. The C. diff bacteria or dormant spores might re-infect you.
Risk Factors and Causes
What is the cause of C. diff? C. difficile bacteria cause C. diff infections, and they may be found in a variety of environments, including human and animal wastes, soil, air, and water. Bacteria may also be found in processed meat and other foods. There are around 100 trillion bacterial cells in the human intestines, with up to 2,000 distinct types of bacteria. Much of this bacteria is beneficial because it keeps potentially harmful bacteria in control and protects the body from illness. “A limited proportion of healthy persons normally have the bacteria in their large intestine and have no negative consequences from the infection,” according to Mayo Clinic.
So, when does C. diff become a problem, as well as a symptom? It happens when C. diff isn’t maintained under control and starts to grow out of control. Antibiotics are the most prevalent cause of this since antibiotics kill the bacteria they’re supposed to kill and all the healthy bacteria in the process. Fluoroquinolones, penicillins, cephalosporins, and clindamycin are the most frequent antibiotics that cause this kind of illness.
Is Clostridium difficile contagious? When infected people do not fully wash their hands after going to the toilet, spores from the C. diff bacteria are transferred in the feces and may subsequently spread to food, objects, and surfaces. If you come into contact with anything infected with C. diff spores, you may unwittingly and unknowingly ingest the bacterium. For example, healthcare staff may accidentally transfer C. diff between patients in hospitals and long-term care institutions if they do not properly wash their hands after caring for each patient. Another perplexing characteristic about C. diff spores is that they may survive for weeks or even months on items and surfaces outside of the body.
The following are some of the causes and risk factors for C. diff:
- Antibiotic usage (the number one risk factor), particularly broad-spectrum antibiotics or antibiotics taken for a long time.
- In a nursing home or a long-term care institution
- Gastrointestinal surgery is a kind of surgery that involves the removal of the intestine
- Abdominal surgery that involves repositioning the intestines
- In a nursing home or a long-term care institution
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colorectal cancer are two conditions that affect the colon.
- Having a compromised immune system is a serious condition.
- C. diff infection in the past
- Having reached the age of 65 or more
Some studies have also shown that stomach acid-reducing medicines, particularly proton pump inhibitors (or PPIs), may have a role in C. diff infection recurrence.
C. Diff Treatment (Natural)
Is it possible for C. difficile to vanish on its own? According to some physicians, the illness may go away on its own, and those who are not treated are less likely to have a recurrence. Even moderate C. diff symptoms, on the other hand, indicate that your system is out of whack and might benefit a boost. If you’re wondering how to cure C. diff at home, you have a few options. The following are some natural remedies that may help you fight an illness, including an anti-C. diff diet.
1. Avoid using antibiotics if at all possible
Stopping any antibiotics, you’re taking is recommended in both natural and traditional C. diff treatment plans. Even the CDC advises that one of the first things you should do if you’ve been diagnosed with C. diff is to stop taking any antibiotics you’re taking “as soon as possible.” These drugs are killing your good bacteria, which is precisely what the C. diff bacterium wants; they want the good bacteria to die off so they can overgrow and take over. Stopping other medicines may result in a significant improvement in C. diff symptoms, particularly diarrhea, quickly. However, before discontinuing any drugs, be sure to speak with your doctor.
2. Fill Up On Beneficial Bacteria
When you have C. diff, should you take probiotics? Probiotics may assist so much that if you have a C. diff infection, both conventional and alternative health specialists would advise you to take probiotic pills. There is conflicting evidence that specific probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces species, are especially beneficial.
One of the most crucial things you can do to fight off (or prevent) a C. diff infection is to make sure you’re getting probiotics or “good bacteria” into your system regularly, as too much bad bacteria is what got you in trouble in the first place. So regularly taking a high-quality probiotic pill is a good idea, particularly if you’re on or have just been on antibiotics.
Is it possible to get rid of C. diff using probiotics? Both as a supplement and as a meal, they may be quite beneficial. If you consume probiotic-rich foods, you may obtain a lot of probiotics in your diet, which will assist in balancing your gut flora and combat C. diff. Some of the best probiotic foods are raw apple cider vinegar, fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi, and kvass), and probiotic drinks (kombucha and coconut kefir) to take daily. If you want to get the most out of apple cider vinegar, go for a raw type with the “mother” still intact, which means it still has all of the beneficial ingredients, including probiotics. Is apple cider vinegar effective in the treatment of C. diff? Not necessary, although it may surely aid in the growth of beneficial bacteria, which is essential in any anti-C. difficile diet.
3. Limit or eliminate certain foods
When it comes to C. diff, what foods should be avoided? Avoiding the following foods, according to the C. Diff Foundation, may help you fight an infection:
- Dairy products, which have been linked to an increase in gastrointestinal distress lactose intolerance, have also been reported in patients with C. diff infections.
- Foods that are greasy, fatty, or processed are hard on the digestive tract and might contribute to increased diarrhea.
- Some foods, such as cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cabbage), onions, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are absolutely healthful but may produce increased bloating, gas, and discomfort.
- Fruits and vegetables that are still raw (Cook them to reduce the likelihood of bloating effects)
- Processed fat-free foods such as olestra have been linked to increased bloating and diarrhea.
- Spicy meals have been shown to exacerbate symptoms.
- Caffeine, which has diuretic properties, might irritate the GI system and prolong healing time after an illness.
“No two bodies are made nor respond similarly, making diets a highly personalized program,” according to the C. Diff Foundation, which is why it’s so vital to remember and why it’s so crucial to pay attention to your body and how it responds to what you eat when you have an infection (and in general). So make sure to speak with your doctor about a C. diff diet that is right for you.
4. Extensive hand washing
If you have a Clostridium difficile infection, you’ll want to do all you can to prevent the illness from spreading to others and to avoid reinfection. One of the most basic measures to take if you have an illness or wish to prevent an infection is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water for 30 to 40 seconds. Make careful to get between your fingers, the tops of your hands, and your thumbs while washing your hands. After you’ve finished washing your hands, dry them thoroughly with a clean, dry towel. It’s also a good idea to use a clean towel to switch off the sink taps. Alcohol-based hand cleaners have been demonstrated to be less effective than proper handwashing.
Even when it comes to C. diff, I never encourage using antibacterial soaps when I urge hand washing. Even the FDA recommends avoiding antibacterial soap (which creates antibiotic-resistant germs) instead of using regular soap and water.
5. Close the Lid
Another good habit to develop if you want to avoid reinfection or the spread of C. diff is closing the toilet lid before flushing. I understand that this may not be possible in public facilities but always shut the lid before flushing at home. This may considerably reduce the spread of C. diff germs to various surfaces and items in the bathroom. In general, it’s a really beneficial habit to adopt for hygienic and health reasons.
6. Take Antibiotics That Aren’t Synthetic
If you’re searching for methods to include more natural antibiotics in your diet to combat C. diff, here are a few of the best natural bacteria killers to consider:
Manuka honey: Not only has Manuka honey been found to be an effective antibacterial agent, but it has also been demonstrated to lower colon inflammation in studies.
Raw Garlic: Garlic possesses antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects by nature. The WHO recommends incorporating garlic into your daily routine in one of the following forms: two to five grams (about one clove) of fresh garlic, 0.4 to 1.2 grams of dried garlic powder, two to five milligrams of garlic oil, 300 to 1,000 milligrams of garlic extract, or other formulations that are equal to two to five milligrams of allicin. Onions are also delicious.
Oregano essential oil “may be an effective therapy against hazardous and sometimes drug-resistant germs,” according to research. Because oregano oil is so potent, it’s better to use it under the supervision of a natural health professional. Oregano oil must always be diluted with water or blended with coconut oil before being used internally. You may include oregano in your diet in both dried and fresh forms.
7. Fecal transplantation (Surgical)
“Transplanting faeces from a healthy individual to the colon of a patient with recurring C. difficile infections has been found to effectively cure C. difficile,” according to the CDC website. These “fecal transplants” seem to be the most successful treatment for C. difficile infections that recur. However, this treatment may not be widely accessible, and its long-term safety is unknown.”
It seems strange, but a fecal transplant is a standard and comprehensive therapy for recurrent C. diff infections. So what is a fecal transplant, exactly? It’s a treatment that involves taking feces (stool) from a healthy donor, mixing it with a liquid solution, straining it, and then injecting it into the colon of another patient through an enema, colonoscopy, or endoscopy. One major health issue that necessitates a transplant is a recurring C. diff infection (usually three or more). Fecal transplantation is believed to have a success rate of 91 to 93 percent on average, with some studies showing a 100 percent success rate when using fresh fecal microbiota.
8. Transplantation of feces (Oral)
There is a less invasive fecal transplant alternative if you have recurrent C. difficile infections. Successful fecal transplants have recently been achieved by encapsulating healthy freeze-dried feces and allowing patients to consume the capsules. In a 2017 study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers found that after just one administration of the capsules to 49 patients with recurrent C. diff infections, 88 percent of the patients achieved “clinical success,” defined as no recurrence of C. diff infection over two months.
C. diff is diagnosed based on a person’s medical history, signs and symptoms, and test findings. For example, if someone has recently (within the previous two months) taken antibiotics, or if C. difficile symptoms (particularly watery diarrhea) appear a few days after a hospitalization, C. difficile is generally suspected.
How can you tell if you have a C. diff infection in your intestine? Is there a test for C. diff? The easiest approach to find out whether you have an overgrowth of C. diff bacteria is to do a stool sample test. However, it’s possible that more tests, such as an X-ray or a CT scan of your colon, may be necessary. It’s noteworthy to note that you may be a C. diff carrier without having a C. diff infection. This means that you may test positive and have no symptoms, but if you test positive and have symptoms, you have a C. diff infection that is active.
Antibiotics are normally used in traditional therapy, but more lately, even traditional guidelines have included taking probiotics along with antibiotics to prevent a C. diff infection from recurring. If antibiotics don’t work or your illness keeps coming back, fecal microbiota transplantation may be considered.
Is it possible to get rid of C. diff? A Clostridium difficile infection is treatable. However, despite therapy, the infection may return in some patients. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, three to six individuals out of every ten persons who have had a C. diff infection in the past will have it again.
The fact that certain C. diff patients’ infections don’t simply come back once but repeatedly is a dreadful truth. You can imagine how taxing it would be on someone’s physique. Therefore, the same antibiotic is usually administered when an infection recurs for the first time; however, stronger medicines are utilized if the illness recurs several times.
How long does it take for C. diff to heal? This is dependent on several circumstances, including the person’s age, health state, and treatment plan.
Complications and Precautions
If you have symptoms, you should be tested for C. diff, mainly if they develop while or after taking antibiotics or after being near someone who has a C. diff infection.
What kinds of problems might C. diff cause? You may get very dehydrated, unable to pass feces, and/or lose weight if the illness progresses. C. diff may also cause a toxic megacolon, which may need emergency surgery, or intestinal rupture, resulting in peritonitis, a deadly illness. Is it possible for C. diff to kill you? A C. diff infection may sometimes result in a hole in the intestines or sepsis, both of which can be fatal. In extreme situations, surgery to remove the infected portion of the colon may be necessary.
Is it possible to kiss someone who has C. diff? Kissing and hugging someone with C. diff is normally regarded safe since the illness isn’t disseminated via contact and isn’t spread through the air by sneezing or coughing. However, if you visit someone hospitalized with C. diff, you should follow some basic C. diff precautions, such as wearing gloves in the room and washing your hands before leaving. Working at hospitals and long-term care institutions necessitates the use of gloves and the practice of proper hand hygiene.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, being treated for any ongoing health issues, or already on medication, always see your doctor before making any dietary changes or using natural supplements.
- Antibiotic users, particularly those who use antibiotics for extended periods or take broad-spectrum antibiotics, are at the greatest risk of contracting C. difficile infections.
- People with C. diff have foul-smelling, watery feces that are voided regularly. A moderate illness may produce three or more bowel motions per day for two days or longer, but a severe infection may cause watery diarrhea 10 to 15 times each day.
- One of the most effective strategies to cure C. diff, according to both conventional and holistic medical professionals, is to stop taking antibiotics as soon as you notice you have a C. diff infection and, in general, to avoid using antibiotics until absolutely necessary.
- Conventional C. diff therapy, on the other hand, usually entails taking additional antibiotics, which is hilarious.
- Hand washing is one of the most effective techniques to avoid both initial and re-infection with C. difficile bacteria.
- When there are certain healthful foods you may wish to skip while experiencing C. diff symptoms temporarily, there are others (such as highly processed meals) that you should avoid as much as possible.
- Natural antibiotics found in nature may be added to your diet and have been shown to be very powerful and efficient against bacteria such as C. difficile.
- According to conventional and holistic knowledge, fecal matter transplants (surgery or orally) are also extremely helpful for individuals with recurrent infections.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can a person get C. diff?
A: C. diff is a commonly found bacteria that can cause infection in the colon if not appropriately treated. It could also come from fecal matter and be on hands or objects that are touched with their bare hands before washing them well enough to prevent passing on germs.
How do you get C. diff at home?
A: C. diff is not something that you can get at home. If you have severe diarrhea with liquid stool, your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic or other medication to help the infection from getting worse.
Who is at risk for C. diff?
A: People who have a weakened immune system, like those with cancer or HIV. Some medications can cause an infection in the colon or rectum.
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