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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Clostridium difficile

Introduction

Clostridium difficile or C. difficile is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis. It is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients in the industrialized world. It is also one of the most common infections in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The use of antibiotics increases the chances of developing C. difficile diarrhea. Treatment with antibiotics alters the normal levels of good bacteria found in the intestines and colon. When there are fewer of these good bacteria, C. difficile can thrive and produce toxins that can cause an infection. The combination of the presence of C. difficile in hospitals and health care settings and the number of people receiving antibiotics in these settings can lead to frequent outbreaks.

In these settings, C. difficile infections can be limited through careful use of antibiotics and the use of routine infection control measures.