The Infection Is Contagious
If someone is diagnosed with C. diff or you suspect you or a loved one may have one, isolation is important to keep the infection from spreading. In the hospital, the infected patient will be isolated from other patients, and staff will have to observe isolation precautions, using gloves and gowns.
The bacteria are spread through spores that the bacteria release. These spores can live for a long time, several months, on surfaces. An infected person may touch a doorknob and spores may cling to it. When another person touches the doorknob, they may pick up the spores on their hand. If they bring their hand to their face, or if they use that hand to hold food, the spores are then transferred and that second person may be infected.
At home, if you or your loved one has C. diff , thorough and frequent hand washing is essential. If possible the person with the infection should use a dedicated bathroom. If you must share a bathroom, it should be thoroughly cleaned before anyone else uses it, concentrating on common surfaces, such as taps, counters, doorknobs, and so on. Ensure the person with the infection also has their own towels and linens. These should be washed separately in the hottest water possible.
Its important to keep in mind too that hand sanitizers are not effective against C. diff. Soap and water are the only defence. So, when handling anything that the patient has touched or giving direct care, the staff must wear gloves.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Should I stop taking my antibiotic? At what point?
- If I have diarrhea, when should I call my doctor?
- How did I get a C. diff. infection?
- What treatment is best for me?
- If Ive had C. diff once, what is my risk of getting it again?
- My mother is in a nursing home that has a breakout of C. diff. Should she be tested?
- Ive been diagnosed as a C. diff. carrier. What precautions should I take with my friends and family?
- I have diverticulitis. Am I at risk for a C. diff. infection?
How To Prevent C Diff From Spreading
If youve recently had C diff, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water when meeting others. If you spent most of your time with the infection at home, spend some time to clean and disinfect all areas of your home. Spores can live on objects and surfaces in your home for months. A solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach solution can help eliminate any remaining bacteria. Some places to start include:
- Your bathroom, including the toilet, sink, shower, and any handles or knobs
- All towels and bathmats
- Doorknobs throughout your home
- Your car steering wheel and gear shifter
With the right hygiene practices and supplementing your diet with probiotics and prebiotics, its relatively easy to keep C. difficile at bay. When you take antibiotics, be sure the take a high quality multi-probiotic along with it to help restore your normal gut flora.
Hygiene Precautions for C diff
It is not very common for people who are not taking a course of antibiotics to become infected with C. difficile, but it is still very important to avoid spreading the bacterial spores. You will continue to be infectious as long as you are still having diarrhea. Following these hygiene practices will help you avoid spreading C diff.
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Probiotics To Beat The Bacterium
Probiotic supplements are the best way to restore the balance of the natural bacterial colony in your gut. Poor diet and the use of antibiotics can cause these beneficial floras to become depleted, and probiotics can help restore numbers.
When the balance is in favor of beneficial strains again, bacteria like C. diff dont stand a chance.
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Specifically, there are three probiotic bacterial strains that have been shown to combat C. diff effectively. Incorporating these strains into your regular diet or taking in supplement form can prevent the harmful bacteria from taking over or if taken after infection, symptoms can be reduced and recovery will be much faster.
S. Boulardii: This is probiotic yeast, which has been shown to counteract the activities of C. diff within your gut. This beneficial yeast can inhibit the activities of inflammatory markers as well as reduce intestinal wall permeability. These actions reduce inflammation and prevent C. diff toxins from binding. A protease secreted by the S. Boulardii inhibits the production of the toxins produced by C. diff, which prevents it from damaging your intestinal walls.
Lactobacillus: This is a species of probiotics that have been used in numerous studies to combat the effects of C. diff. These bacteria have the ability to colonize in your gut and can protect you from pathogenic invaders.
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What Is A Fecal Transplant
A fecal transplant is a way to restore all of the patients healthy colon flora during one procedure. First we identify a healthy person to donate stool. Previously this was often a friend or family member. The donor is tested for common communicable diseases including hepatitis and HIV as well as some other viral and bacterial infections.
After the stool is determined to be safe it is processed into a liquid. We then deliver the stool into the colon either during a colonoscopy or through a nasojejunal tube. There is a company now that screens stool donors and sells product to hospitals, taking some of the pressure off the patient find their own donor.
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What Is A C Difficile Infection
A C. difficile infection results from a type of bacteria called Clostridium difficile infecting your large intestine. C. difficile bacteria are common and can be found everywhere. These bacteria can be found in the air, in water, or on items such as door knobs, sinks, and countertops. Small amounts of C. difficile bacteria are even found in many people’s intestines.
If C. difficile bacteria in your intestines grow out of control, they can cause an infection. This can happen after a person takes antibiotics. Antibiotics are a type of medicine that fight infections caused by bacteria. When you take antibiotics, the normal bacteria in your intestines that help keep you healthy can also be killed. When this happens, bacteria such as C. difficile can grow out of control. When a person has CDI, chemicals called toxins produced by the C. difficile bacteria make him or her sick.
CDI affects about 500,000 people in the United States each year. CDI can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms of CDI include watery diarrhea and cramping in your belly. Some people with CDI can become very sick. In rare cases, severe CDI can be life threatening.
Symptoms of severe CDI may include:
- Having watery diarrhea often throughout the day and night
- Cramping and pain in your belly that may be severe
- Blood or pus in your bowel movements
- Tenderness in your belly
- Weight loss
How You Get Clostridium Difficile
C. diff bacteria are found in the digestive system of about 1 in every 30 healthy adults.
The bacteria often live harmlessly because other bacteria normally found in the bowel keep it under control.
But some antibiotics can interfere with the balance of bacteria in the bowel, which can cause the C. diff bacteria to multiply and produce toxins that make the person ill.
When this happens, C. diff can spread easily to other people because the bacteria are passed out of the body in the personâs diarrhoea.
Once out of the body, the bacteria turn into resistant cells called spores.
These can survive for long periods on hands, surfaces , objects and clothing unless theyâre thoroughly cleaned, and can infect someone else if they get into their mouth.
Someone with a C. diff infection is generally considered to be infectious until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared up.
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What Are The Symptoms Of C Diff Infection
The main symptom is having at least 3 watery poos daily for 2 days or more. Other symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, nausea and stomach pain or cramp. There are different strains of C. diff and some can cause a more serious illness than others. In most cases, the symptoms start within a few days of starting the antibiotic. However, in some cases, symptoms develop up to 10 weeks after finishing a course of an antibiotic.
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Tip #: Take Your Temperature
Take frequent temperature checks to see if you develop a fever. A fever is a sign that you may be developing a more severe illness. While you can get a thermometer at nearly any big box store, I would suggest using this thermometer for adults and children since it is waterproof for easy cleaning and can alert you if you have a fever .
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When Can I Return To Work After C Diff Infection
- You can return to work as soon as you feel ready, or after your diarrhea has stopped.
- Healthcare workers should wait 24 to 48 hours after their diarrhea stops before returning to work or until stooling has returned to normal consistency for individuals with IBS, IBD or colostomies or ileostomies.
- Remember to wash your hands frequently, and always after using the bathroom and before eating.
Symptoms Of A C Difficile Infection
Symptoms of a C. difficile infection usually develop when you’re taking antibiotics, or when you’ve finished taking them within the last few weeks.
The most common symptoms are:
- watery diarrhoea, which can be bloody
- painful tummy cramps
- signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, headaches and peeing less often than normal
- a high temperature of above 38C
- loss of appetite and weight loss
In some cases, serious complications can develop, such as damage to the bowel or severe dehydration, which may cause drowsiness, confusion, a rapid heart rate and fainting.
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What Are The Symptoms Of C Diff
Symptoms vary based on how inflamed the colon has become, but can range from slightly loose stools to more than two dozen episodes of diarrhea a day. Abdominal pain and fever can also occur.
In severe cases, C. diff infection can lead to life-threatening dehydration , low blood pressure, a condition called toxic megacolon , and colon perforation.
Mild Or Moderate Infection
Many people develop mild or moderate watery diarrhoea. They may also have some crampy tummy pains, a feeling of sickness and a high temperature . This is similar to the symptoms that occur with many other mild or moderate bouts of gut infection . Symptoms may last from a few days to several weeks. In mild cases, symptoms often clear away without any specific treatment.
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How Do People Get C Diff Infections
C. diff germs are found in feces, which is why good handwashing is so important after using the bathroom. People can become infected if they touch items or surfaces that are dirty with C. diff germs and then touch their mouth. These germs can live outside the body for a long time.
C. diff infection most often happens in people who have recently taken antibiotics and have had recent admissions to a health care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home. However, it is becoming more common for people to get C. diff infection without having a recent hospitalization or nursing home stay. These infections are called community-associated C. diff infections. These people often have recently taken antibiotics.
What Puts A Person At Risk Of Getting C Difficile Infection
People in healthcare settings are most at risk of acquiring this type of infection because C. difficile is often a healthcare-associated infection. These types of infections can be transmitted within a hospital when infection prevention and control measures are not followed.
Those at higher risk include the elderly, people with severe underlying illness, and people taking certain antibiotics or cancer chemotherapy. In addition, patients taking stomach ulcer drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors, are at increased risk for contracting C. difficile infection.
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What Do I Do After Returning Home From The Hospital
You can return to your normal routine once you are back at home. The diarrhea is often better or gone before you go home, which makes the spread of Clostridioides difficile to others much less likely.
You can lower the chances of developing Clostridioides difficile infection again or spreading it to others. For example:
- Take your medication to treat Clostridioides difficile exactly as instructed by your healthcare provider and pharmacist. Take all the medication as directed. Do not take half-doses or stop before you have taken all the medicine.
- You and your family members should wash their hands after going to the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, and when hands are dirty.
- Clean surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens regularly with household detergents/disinfectants.
- Tell your healthcare provider if your diarrhea returns.
Can A C Diff Infection Be Prevented Or Avoided
A C. diff. infection is contagious. The bacteria can spread person to person. They also live a long time on surfaces, such as toilet seats, telephones, and doorknobs. Good hygiene can help you avoid the bacteria.
- Wash your hands often and well, using soap and water.
- Use disposable gloves when caring for someone who may have C.
- Use chlorine bleach-based products to disinfect surfaces and items.
- Wash clothing that may be soiled with stool with soap and chlorine bleach.
- If you visit someone in a health care facility, wash your hands before, during, and after your visit.
- Do not use antibiotics unless your doctor recommends them.
If you have a C. diff. infection, wash your hands with soap and water before eating and after using the restroom. Use a chlorine bleach-based product to clean surfaces you may have touched to avoid spreading the infection to others. About 1 in 5 people who have C. diff. will get it again.
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Be Smart About Antibiotics
Most cases of C. diff occur in patients taking antibiotics. Good use of antibiotics can help prevent the spread of C. diff.
- Antibiotics only work on bacteria they will not treat an illness caused by a virus, like the flu or a cold.
- Trust your providerâs recommendation on if you need an antibiotic do not demand an antibiotic prescription.
- Never share antibiotics with others.
- If your provider prescribes you antibiotics, always finish the entire prescription unless your provider tells you to stop.
- Do not save antibiotics for later use.
- If you develop diarrhea while taking antibiotics, contact your health care provider.
Is This Information Right For Me
This information is right for you if:
Your health care professional has said that you or someone you care for has a Clostridium difficile infection . CDI causes watery diarrhea and cramping in your belly. Clostridium difficile is also often called “C. difficile” or “C. diff.”
- You are age 18 or older. This information is from research on adults.
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Tip #: Limit Close Contact With Others
Like we mentioned in Tip #7, contact precautions are used in the hospital when a C. diff infection is severe. While you may not have a severe diarrhea infection, protect yourself and others by staying home. Take a sick day at work or keep your child home from school so that the infection does not spread. Besides, no one wants to be at work or school with diarrhea!
What Is The Treatment For C Diff
If you are diagnosed with C. diff and it is determined to be caused by taking a particular antibiotic, you may be switched to another antibiotic.
Antibiotics prescribed to treat C. diff include vancomycin or fidaxomicin, generally taken for at least 10 days. In some cases, a second round of antibiotics may be needed.
Patients with severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized. Because C. diff is contagious, healthcare providers wear gowns and gloves to prevent the spread of C. diff to themselves and to other patients.
In serious cases, patients may need a fecal transplant , which involves the transfer of stool from a healthy donor into the gastrointestinal tract to help restore the balance of healthy bacteria in the intestine.
In a very small number of patients who have extremely severe cases of C. diff infection , surgery may be needed.
Home remedies to help relieve symptoms of C. diff include:
- Drinking plenty of liquids with water, salt, and sugar such as water mixed with juice, flavored soda, and soup broth
- If you can keep food down, eat a little
- Bland, easy-to-digest foods are best, such as potatoes, pasta, rice, oatmeal, crackers, bananas, soup, and boiled vegetables
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Is C Diff Contagious
C. diff is contagious. While most cases are caused by antibiotic use, people can also get C. difficile infection from touching infected people or surfaces and not washing their hands.
Even if people have no symptoms of C. diff infection, they can still spread the infection to others.
However, most healthy adults will not get sick from contact with C. diff.
How Do You Prevent C Diff
To help prevent C. difficile infection:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and before eating
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have NOT been proven to prevent the spread of C. difficile
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