Clostridium Difficile Infection - Symptoms & Treatment
Clostridium difficile is a cause of diarrhoea. It causes a relatively mild illness, occasionally and particularly in elderly patients. Diarrhoea is the most common symptom but abdominal pain and fever may also occur.It may result in serious illness and even death. C. difficile bacteria are found in feces. People can become infected if they touch items or surfaces that are contaminated with feces and then touch their mouths or mucous membranes. C. difficile colitis is called pseudomembranous colitis because the patches appear like membranes, but they are not true membranes. The bacterium produces two toxins which are responsible for the diarrhoea and which damage the cells lining the bowel. Patients may develop a severe form of the disease called 'pseudomembranous colitis' or 'antibiotic-associated colitis' which is characterised by significant damage to the large bowel This may lead to a grossly dilated bowel possibly resulting in rupture or perforation. C. difficile produce toxin; these strains are unlikely to cause disease and patients colonised by them remain healthy. Bacterium can form spores which enable it to survive in the environment outside the body and which protect the organism against heat and chemical disinfectants.
Causes of Clostridium Difficile Infection
Common causes of Clostridium Difficile Infection
- Bacterial flora of the colon.
- Hemolytic-uremic syndrome.
- Intestinal ischemia.
- Renal failure.
- Necrotizing enterocolitis.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
Symptoms of Clostridium Difficile Infection
Common Symptoms of Clostridium Difficile Infection
- Watery diarrhea.
- Loss of appetite.
- Abdominal pain.
Treatment of Clostridium Difficile Infection
Common Treatment of Clostridium Difficile Infection
- Vancomycin for six weeks in decreasing doses (125 mg four times a day for one week, three times a day for another week, twice a day for another week and so on).
- Two weeks of vancomycin or metronidazole along with 4 weeks of S. boulardii.
- Fecal enemas from healthy relatives and family members. Feces from non-infected donors are made into a suspension and administered as enemas to the patient with multiple relapses. The normal bacteria from the donor's stool displaces the C. difficile bacteria.
- Passive immunizations with human gammaglobulin. Patients with multiple relapses typically have low levels of antibodies to C. difficile toxins. By giving patients who relapse gammaglobulin containing large amounts of antibodies to C. difficile toxins.
- Active vaccination for C. difficile toxins. Vaccination can increase a patient's levels of antibodies to C. difficile toxins.