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Dr Russ Blog - C Diff - Can You Make a Difference?
C Diff - Can You Make a Difference?
Created on 10/25/2013

J sent in a timely question about infection with an organism called Clostridium difficile, sometimes referred to as "C diff".

Why timely?

Because infection with C diff is unfortunately becoming increasingly common, usually as a complication of antibiotic therapy, especially when multiple antibiotics are used.

Remember that antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately - not only are the "bad" bacteria attacked (those that may be causing a skin or sinus infection for which an antibiotic has been prescribed), but they also kill potentially health promoting bacteria that reside in our guts.

Those "good" bacteria help keep "bad" bacteria, like C diff, from gaining a foothold. In some people, the balance of good vs. bad bacteria gets so out of whack with antibiotic therapy that C diff infection can develop. (If you're taking an antibiotic, ask your doctor if you should also be taking a probiotic.)

Typical symptoms of C diff include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.

Many people respond well to treatment with - you guessed it - antibiotics. Very specific ones.

But probiotic therapy (organisms that promote good health) also appears to help. You can gain access to probiotics by eating fermented foods such as some yogurts, kefir and sauerkraut but the majority of clinical data regarding the health benefits of probiotics have been associated with supplements.

The most commonly used agents have been Lactobacilli and a yeast called Saccharomyces. They can be used both to help lessen the risk for C diff as well as a complement to conventional medical care for C diff infection.

You may have heard about something called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT).

Actually, you may have heard it in a different way - fecal or stool transplantation.

Yeah - transplanting the stool from a healthy person into the colon of a person ill with C diff.

Sounds kind of yucky, yes?

However, it can be very effective for the management of C diff in some individuals, and for reasons that appear similar to the basis for probiotic use - to change the makeup of the bacteria found in the gut (also called the microbiome or microbiota).

When it comes to C diff working with a good doctor is critically important to your well being. Eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory / Mediterranean-style diet and supplementing with appropriate probiotic therapy are strong considerations, as is the regular practice of healthy means of stress management.

Why the latter?

Because emotional stress plays a significant role in both gut function and inflammation. Modulating both can help lessen the impact of C diff.

Thanks for a great question, J. Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **


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