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C. Diff (Clostridioides Difficile) Infection

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.

Clostridioides difficile, Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is a bacterium that causes diarrhea, irritation, and swelling of the colon. Antibiotic use is the most common cause of CDI. The bowel movement of a person with a CDI contains C. diff. Infected people who do not wash their hands properly after having a bowel movement can spread C. diff. The bacteria can live a long time on surfaces you touch, such as the tops of tables.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Intake and output

may be measured. Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Contact isolation:

Measures will be taken to help prevent C. diff bacteria from spreading to other people. These measures are called contact precautions. Healthcare providers will wear gloves and a gown. Your visitors will also be asked to wear gloves and a gown. Everyone should wash their hands with germ-killing soap after touching you or leaving your room. You may be in a room by yourself. Anything you use will not be shared with others.


  • Antibiotics help treat an infection caused by bacteria. You may have been taking antibiotics before getting the CDI. If so, healthcare providers will stop giving you that antibiotic. You may need to take a different type of antibiotic to treat your CDI.
  • Immune globulin medicine may be used to treat a severe or frequent CDI. You may need it to help your immune system fight infection.


  • Blood tests may show signs of infection in your body or bloodstream.
  • A colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy may be used to look for problems in your colon. A scope is a long, bendable tube with a light on the end. The scope may also have a camera on it. During a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, the scope is put into your anus and moved forward into your large colon. Your provider may also take pictures or collect samples that are sent to the lab for tests.
  • CT scan pictures may be used to check your abdomen and intestines. You may be given contrast liquid through an IV. The liquid helps your colon show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.


Surgery called colectomy may be needed if your CDI is severe or has damaged your colon. During surgery, part of your colon is removed.


  • You are at risk of dehydration if diarrhea and vomiting causes you to lose too much fluid. Fluid loss can also decrease or increase the amount of electrolytes in your body. This can cause seizures or problems with how your heart works. Your blood pressure may drop too low and you may faint. These problems can be life-threatening. Medicine used to treat a CDI may cause vomiting, mouth irritation, or skin rashes. The medicine may not kill your C. diff bacteria. You may get a CDI again, even after treatment. The risk is highest for older adults.
  • Without treatment, a CDI can lead to sepsis (blood infection), or an enlarged colon. Your colon may get damaged, or your kidneys may stop working. The risk of serious or life-threatening problems from a CDI is greater if you already have other medical problems.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.