The present paper is a fact sheet devoted to Clostridium difficile infection that belongs to the number of common intestinal infections. In the paper, the following questions are considered: key information related to the infection, the range of symptoms and lethality associated with it, specific groups that are more likely to suffer from the infection, and factors that increase the probability of contagion. What is more, it touches upon the incidence of the discussed infection and certain measures that can be taken to mitigate its negative effects or prevent it. The facts listed in the paper can be useful for those who would like to become familiar with the general information on this disease, the most important measures that should be taken, and specific signs that indicate Clostridium difficile infection.
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Clostridium difficile infection belongs to the number of very dangerous diseases that may occur during the use of antibiotics. As it is clear from the name of this disease, its occurrence is closely interconnected with the presence of the bacterium that is called Clostridium difficile. The infection is really dangerous as it weakens the entire organism and many complications may occur due to the lack of medical assistance or wrong methods of treatment that are chosen. What is more, it is necessary to say that the danger of the infection is connected not only with the complications that it may lead to; also, Clostridium difficile infection may be even more devastating because it often reinforces the effects of other diseases that patients have (Leffler & Lamont, 2015). Some of the complications of the disease are connected to certain problems with the heart-vascular system, and it may pose an additional threat to the people who suffer from heart problems.
As for the way to diagnose this infection, a provisional diagnosis can be made in case if the patient has diarrhea or other symptoms of toxicity and he or she is still using antibiotics or has discontinued the treatment a few days ago. In case if all these attributes are present, the unhealthy condition is very likely to be a manifestation of Clostridium difficile infection.
Also, it is necessary to conduct a stool test and some factors increase the probability that the patient suffers from this very disease. These factors include the admixtures of blood found in the stool (but it is also a symptom of many other diseases such as cancer), the presence of slime in the fecal sample, and also the presence of Clostridium difficile and the toxins of the bacteria.
What is more, to confirm a provisional diagnosis, it is necessary to do an endoscopy and observe intestinal lining. The diagnosis is very likely to be confirmed if there is a yellow pellicle on certain parts of the intestinal lining. In case if all the above-mentioned symptoms are present, the patient is very likely to have the discussed infection.
Symptoms, Morbidity, and Mortality
The discussed infection presents a great problem for people because it involves serious inflammation of the intestines; furthermore, the patients with this infection suffer from diarrhea and abdominal pain. If the patient receives inappropriate medical treatment or there are complications, the discussed infection may lead to water depletion, severe headache, and lack of appetite.
In the majority of the cases, the symptoms of the infection include the following: watery diarrhea, a series of convulsions, a rise of the body temperature, vomiting, nausea, and general weakness.
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To continue, many researchers assume that it is quite difficult to study morbidity in connection with the discussed infection. Nevertheless, it may be stated that there are a few sources of morbidity including recrudescence of the disease and other risks. As for the number of people who have experienced the infection, it can be said that it is increasing quite rapidly; thus, the discussed disease belongs to the number of the most common hospital-acquired infections (Lubbert, John, & Von Muller, 2014, p. 724). As for the specific numbers of people who died because of the disease, a group of researchers in the United States conducted a study taking into consideration the cases of few thousands of people suffering from the infection. According to their results, more than nine percent of patients died from this infection within a month after the infection was diagnosed (Lessa et al., 2015). Within the frame of their research, the authors also paid attention to the mode of infection; thus, they found out that the number of fatal cases was a few times larger if Clostridium difficile infection was hospital-acquired.
Speaking about Clostridium difficile infection, it is necessary to pay attention to major factors that may increase the risk of contracting this disease. To begin with, this infection may occur both in children and adults. In general, the risk factors associated with this infection are connected to inappropriate use of different antibiotics; certain medical drugs can be chosen without regard to the range of constitutional peculiarities of the patients or the latter may fail to take the prescribed drugs in the right doses. As for other drugs that can contribute to the development of the disease, it is believed that almost all types of antibiotics may cause the infection if they are taken incorrectly. Furthermore, it is believed that misuse of cathartics and certain cytostatic drugs can also be a cause of the infection (Rojo et al., 2015).
As for the major cause of this dangerous disease, it is believed to be associated with the type of dysbiosis when the number of bacteria called Clostridium difficile starts growing rapidly. These bacteria have a negative influence on the human body’s functioning and general physical state of the patient because of the toxins that they produce. Therefore, it may be stated that the reason for the disease is understood by specialists in healthcare. What is more, the presence of these bacteria in the human body does not mean that the person is going to experience all the symptoms of the infection; in fact, the bacteria can be also found in organisms that are quite healthy. To continue, these bacteria cannot be associated only with humans; instead, they can be found in the intestines of many animals living in different climatic parameters. Apart from that, it can be also found in soil.
Populations at Risk
Similar to many other dangerous conditions, the discussed infection tends to occur more or less often in connection with the specific characteristics of the patients. To begin with, there are a few groups of populations that seem to be more likely to suffer from this disease. First, the disease may occur both in children and adults but there is a common factor that increases the risk to become ill. The primary factor is the occurrence of different chronic intestinal diseases such as inflammation. What is more, the risks are also greater for those who have oncology diseases and have survived surgical treatment. The factors associated with risks for adults and children are different; for instance, the latter are more likely to contract this infection in case if they have congenital megacolon or other diseases that involve intestinal problems.
In general, it is confirmed by many researchers that people older than sixty are more likely to suffer from this infection, and this risk becomes even higher if the person has problems with kidneys and intestine, or oncology diseases.
Incidence of the Disease
As it follows from the data reported by the researchers, the cases of Clostridium difficile infection become more and more common and the complications connected to it are also manifested clearer. For instance, Knight and Surawicz (2013) claim that the incidence of the disease has been rising since the beginning of the twenty-first century, and the most important increase is associated with the number of elderly patients who are hospitalized with this diagnosis. Unfortunately, the recent data shows that the cases of the infection become more common even in those groups believed to have less probability of getting it.
Treatment and Prevention
There are a few measures that can be taken to manage the infection; first, the patients are supposed to keep a healthier diet. In case of severe diarrhea, the patients should avoid eating solid food but it is necessary to drink a lot to avoid dehydration. To ameliorate the general state of health, the patient should stop eating greasy or smoked food even after the end of the treatment in the hospital.
Apart from changing eating habits, is it necessary to stop taking any antibiotics that cause dysbiosis? In case if the patient is in critical condition and suffers from complications, operative intervention may be necessary. Surgical procedures are used when there is a significant threat to patients’ life and health. Also, there is a specific type of operation that can be used – a stool transplant that is believed to be effective (Kelly et al., 2014). To prevent the disease, it is very important to pay more attention to practicing proper hygiene and comply with all the instructions concerning the use of antibiotics.
Kelly, C. R., Ihunnah, C., Fischer, M., Khoruts, A., Surawicz, C., Afzali, A., & Gordon, S. (2014). Fecal microbiota transplant for treatment of Clostridium difficile infection in immunocompromised patients. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 109(7), 1065-1071.
Knight, C. L., & Surawicz, C. M. (2013). Clostridium difficile infection. Medical Clinics of North America, 97(4), 523-536.
Leffler, D. A., & Lamont, J. T. (2015). Clostridium difficile infection. New England Journal of Medicine, 372(16), 1539-1548.
Lessa, F. C., Mu, Y., Bamberg, W. M., Beldavs, Z. G., Dumyati, G. K., Dunn, J. R., & Wilson, L. E. (2015). Burden of Clostridium difficile infection in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 372(9), 825-834.
Lubbert, C., John, E., & Von Muller, L. (2014). Clostridium difficile infection. Dtsch Arztebl Int, 111(43), 723-731.
Rojo, D., Gosalbes, M. J., Ferrari, R., Pérez-Cobas, A. E., Hernández, E., Oltra, R., & Moya, A. (2015). Clostridium difficile heterogeneously impacts intestinal community architecture but drives stable metabolome responses. The ISME Journal, 9(10), 2206-2220.