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Clostridium Difficile Infection


Clostridium difficile infection, or C. difficile, is an infection in your colon caused by bacteria. Different types of bacteria live inside the colon, creating a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria. If the C. difficile bacteria grow rapidly, this can disrupt the healthy balance of the colon. This can cause the lining of the colon to swell, which leads to an infection.



  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to keep the C. difficile bacteria from growing and allow the normal bacteria in your intestines to grow. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider within 1 to 2 days:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Self care:

  • Drink liquids to prevent dehydration: Ask how much liquid you should drink to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea. Most adults should drink between 9 and 13 eight-ounce cups of liquid every day. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and broth.
  • Wash your hands: Wash your hands often with germ-killing soap and warm, running water. Alcohol-based hand rubs do not kill C. difficile bacteria. Always wash your hands well after you use the toilet, diaper a child, and before you prepare or serve food. Tell anyone who touches you to wear gloves and wash their hands.
  • Clean surfaces with bleach: Clean tabletops, desks, and other surfaces before anyone else touches or uses them. Clean with chlorine-based disinfectants, such as household bleach.
  • Avoid the spread of C. difficile: Do not share any items with other people. Use as many disposable items, such as paper plates, as you can. Do this until your diarrhea has gone away.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your signs and symptoms do not go away, or they come back, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your diarrhea and stomach cramps get worse.
  • Your abdomen is hard or feels swollen.
  • You have black or bright red stools.
  • You vomit blood.
  • You cannot eat or drink.
  • You are short of breath, or feel like you are going to faint.
  • You have 1 or more of the following signs of dehydration:
    • Dizziness or weakness, or extreme sleepiness
    • Dry mouth, cracked lips, or you feel very thirsty
    • Fast heartbeat or rapid breathing
    • More sleepy than usual
    • Very little urine or no urine
    • Sunken eyes
    • A child may be more irritable or fussy than usual. The soft spot on a baby's head may look sunken in.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.