Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size
A
A
A

C. diff

The average human digestive tract is home to as many as 1,000 species of microorganisms. Most of them are harmless -- or even helpful -- under normal circumstances. But when something upsets the balance of these organisms in your gut, otherwise harmless bacteria can grow out of control and make you sick. One of the worst offenders is a bacterium called Clostridium difficile(C. difficile, or C. diff). As the bacteria overgrow they release toxins that attack the lining of the intestines, causing a condition called Clostridium difficilecolitis.

Though relatively rare compared to other intestinal bacteria, C. diff is one of the most important causes of infectious diarrhea in the U.S.

Recommended Related to Digestive Disorders

Child Severe Digestive Disorders: An Overview

“My tummy hurts” -- that’s something every parent hears. But if it seems like your child complains about stomach problems all the time, he may have a serious digestive disorder. These conditions have different causes, but share many of the same symptoms: Nausea Bloating Stomachache Diarrhea Vomiting Dehydration (from the diarrhea and vomiting) If your child has these symptoms often, the first step is to see a doctor. Getting a diagnosis...

Read the Child Severe Digestive Disorders: An Overview article > >

Symptoms of C. diff

C. difficile infection can range from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms of mild cases include watery diarrhea, three or more times a day for several days, with abdominal pain or tenderness.

Symptoms of more severe C. diff infection include:

  • Watery diarrhea, up to 15 times each day
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Blood or pus in the stool
  • Weight loss

In some cases, C. diff infection can lead to a hole in the intestines, which can be fatal if not treated immediately.

C. diff can be diagnosed by stool specimens tested for the toxins. In some cases, a colonoscopy may be needed for diagnosis and more tests ordered.

Risk Factors for C. diff

Although C. diff occasionally causes problems in healthy people, it is most likely to affect patients in hospitals or long-term care facilities. Most have conditions that require long-term treatment with antibiotics, which kill off other intestinal bacteria that keep C. diff in check. While use of any antibiotic can potentially lead to C. diff overgrowth, it most commonly occurs with the use of an antibiotic that is broad-spectrum, or able to kill a wide variety of bacteria. It also happens more often when multiple antibiotics are needed to fight infection and when the antibiotics need to be taken for a long period of time.

Other risk factors for C. diff infection include:

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
 
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
 
diverticuliltis illustration
Slideshow
couple eating at cafe
Article
 
sick child
Slideshow
Woman blowing bubble gum
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Slideshow
Woman with stomach pain
Slideshow
 
diet for diverticulitis
Video
what causes diarrhea
Video