this image shows a lab petra dish and bacteria

Clostridium Difficile

this image shows a lab petra dish and bacteria

Clostridium Difficile – what is it ?

If you don’t read any further, please just read this. Alcohol gel is not effective against Clostridium Difficile. If you are visiting someone with it please wash your hands with soap and water. 

C.diff, as it is better known is  a type of bacteria that can cause infection. It doesn’t usually cause severe problems in healthy people, but you are more likely to suffer from it  if you’re over 65, unwell or in hospital.

The symptoms of C.diffi infection can include:

  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
  • blood or mucus in your stools (poo)
  • a high temperature
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling sick

The symptoms can last from a couple of days to a few weeks and because these symptoms may be caused by problems you need to contact your GP, especially if you have recently been treated with antibiotics and are over 65.

Please try not to visit your doctor’s surgery or hospital because C.diff is highly infectious and you risk passing it on to others.

Because a number of different conditions can cause similar symptoms, it may be difficult for your doctor to diagnose. They may ask you for a sample of your stool sample, which will be sent to a laboratory for testing.

C. difficile infection is usually caused by taking antibiotics for another illness and you are more at risk of getting C. difficile infection if you’re taking broad spectrum antibiotics which are used against a variety of bacteria. However, they can also destroy the good bacteria in your bowel, leading to the rapid multiplication of these harmful bacteria.

C.diff can spread easily from person to person by simply touching contaminated surfaces as the bacteria can also produce spores allowing it to live longer. Health care workers and  hospital patients, can spread the bacteria by touching a contaminated surface such as furniture, toilets, and taps.

You may be more likely to get C. difficile infection if you’ve had bowel surgery are elderly or if you have a condition that weakens your immune system, such as cancer treatments.

It’s very important to stop the spread of C. difficile. Especially if you’re infected with it or have been in contact with someone who has it. You can do this by making sure you regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water. This is especially important after going to the toilet and before preparing or eating food.

You should also regularly clean your kitchen and bathroom using disinfectant or household detergents containing chlorine.

If you’re in hospital and have C.difficile infection, you’ll usually be moved into a single room or to an area where other people also have the infection. The hospital staff will follow strict hygiene rules to prevent spreading the infection. Any visitors should wash their hands with soap and warm water before and after they visit as the alcohol gels aren’t very effective at killing the bacteria and won’t prevent spreading the infection.


Award-winning blogger and former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.

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