Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis. Symptoms include
- Watery diarrhea (at least three bowel movements per day for two or more days)
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain or tenderness
C. difficile is more common in people who need to take antibiotics for a long period of time.The elderly also have a higher risk of getting it. The infection can spread in hospitals and nursing homes.
Tests of your stool can diagnose C. difficile. Sometimes you might also need imaging tests, to check for complications. Certain antibiotics can treat it. Rarely, there are severe cases that need surgery.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Diagnosis and Tests
- Clostridium difficile and C. difficile Toxin Testing (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
- Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Information about the Current Strain of Clostridium difficile (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Pseudomembranous colitis (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Clostridium difficile Infections (National Institutes of Health)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Special Concerns for Seniors: Clostridium difficile (Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics)