Understanding Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff)

In recent years, there has been an increase in Clostridium Difficile (commonly known as C. Diff) which is a bacteria causing debilitating diarrhea.  C. Diff has various strains  which are often resistant to antibiotics,  which makes the infection difficult to treat. Surprisingly, C. Diff is often caused by over use of antibiotics.  Antibiotics disrupt the normal bacteria flora in the gut referred to as the gut biome. As a result of changing the healthy bacteria, the processing of carbohydrates ( fruits, vegetables, pastas and all grains) also changes which affects the body’s ability to absorb water from the bowel contents.  This causes a person’s stool to be more liquefied.

One potential solution to combatting the increase in C. Diff is the use of probiotics. The claim is they decrease or prevent diarrhea by maintaining the flora in the gut and allow for ongoing carbohydrate fermentation and/or  competitively slowing down the growth of C Diff bacteria. Though animals studies found the use of probiotics for C. Diff inconclusive, probiotics are still marketed to humans to treat C. Diff and autoimmune diseases. With this in mind, it is important to stay tuned to ongoing studies that may give us a clearer picture regarding the effectiveness of probiotics for C. Diff.

Another option for battling C. Diff is fecal transplant, where a healthy patient donates their stool which is then processed into an enema to be administered to the person suffering with C Diff. Fecal transplantation has been around for decades, as it was first performed on humans in 1958.  Patients become candidates for fecal transplant after three reoccurrences of the infection. On average, 91-93% of cases are cured with fecal transplant. After fecal transplants, the antibiotic Vancomycin is again able to keep C. Diff in check without affecting the microflora of the gut. Of course, there are risks associated with fecal transplants, but many health practitioners believe that the benefit of the procedure outweigh the risks.

For more information, speak to your healthcare provider.

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