Symptoms of C Diff Are Recognizable

Clostridium difficile, which is also commonly known as C. diff or C. difficile, is a type of bacteria that can trigger a myriad of symptoms ranging from abdominal discomfort and diarrhea to severe illness and even potential death.

A fact many people may not realize is that this bacteria exists in all aspects of the environment. It is in the water, air, soil, and present in animal and human feces. In fact, most people carry C. diff in their intestinal tract and may never experience any symptoms from it. Yet, illness from C. diff may be triggered by a recent round of antibiotics or exposure to the bacteria from a variety of sources, followed by contact with open orifices (i.e. mouth, nose, or anus), mucous membranes, or open wounds (e.g. blood). As such, it is important to understand that the symptoms of C. diff infection are recognizable. Here are some facts about C. diff and the symptoms associated with it.

1 - Older Adults and Compromised Individuals Tend to Be Most Vulnerable

In many cases, patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as those with compromised immune systems, are typically at highest risk for infection. In most cases, these ailments occur following the use of antibiotics or via exposure from hospitals, care facilities, soiled garments or surfaces, and other infected individuals. However, it is important to note that C. diff infection among younger people who are not considered high-risk candidates, as well as healthy individuals who do not have exposure to health care facilities or a history of antibiotic use, is increasingly on the rise in recent years. This trend could be attributed to the lack of universal precautions and poor hand washing practices. Furthermore, C. diff infections have become increasingly virulent, prone to recurrence, much more frequent, and difficult to treat as they develop resistance to traditional treatment applications.

2 - C. Diff Infection Can Vary in Severity and Incubation Periods

It is also important to note that those individuals who are carriers of the bacteria in their intestinal tract but never become ill from it can still spread the disease. C. diff infection can vary in severity from mild to moderate to severe. If left untreated, it is a serious ailment that can progress to life-threatening and potentially lethal consequences. In many cases, signs and symptoms of C. diff infection develop within a week to 10 days after exposure to the bacterium or beginning a course of antibiotics. However, this is not always the case. The incubation period, which is the time lapse between exposure and when symptoms first develop, can vary depending on the health status of the affected person as well as the circumstances involved. As such, some individuals may develop symptoms within 1-2 days after exposure while others could experience maladies more than two months afterward.

3 - Watery Diarrhea and Abdominal Cramping Can Be Indicative of C. Diff Infection

If an individual experiences watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping two or more times a day, C. diff may be the culprit. With mild to moderate C. diff infections, it is common to have diarrhea, along with abdominal cramping and tenderness, at least three times a day for two or more consecutive days. Another indication of C. diff infection is the very strong, pungent odor associated with diarrhea. If someone suspects they might be infected with the bacterium, it is best to consult a physician right away. By delaying diagnosis and treatment, the infection could progress and result in life-threatening complications.

4 - Blood in the Stool and Colitis Usually Indicate a Severe C.Diff Infection

If someone has a severe C. diff infection, there are a host of symptoms and medical issues that can arise. In many cases, those who are suffering from a severe form of the ailment are prone to dehydration (due to severe diarrhea) and often develop colitis, a condition in which the colon becomes inflamed and irritated. In some cases, the colitis can result in raw patches of tissue or pouches forming in the intestines. This condition is known as pseudomembranous colitis, which results in blood and pus in the stool. Moreover, the dehydration could affect a sufferer's blood pressure, heart rate, kidney function, and jeopardize their overall health and well-being. Other indicators of severe C. diff infection include fever, elevated white blood cell count, nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. An ailment of this nature often requires hospitalization to treat the infection and prevent the development of other life-threatening complications, such as toxic megacolon, bowel perforations, or peritonitis, all of which could result in death if untreated.

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