Dec 01 2019

C. Diff…an old bacterium with new problems.

Published by at 12:53 pm under probiotic supplements

C. Diff…an old bacterium with new problems.
One type of Colitis called C-Difficile is on the rise. Why? And what can be done?*

To continue our series on colitis, we must give attention to one type of colitis that is the major cause of infectious diarrhea in the United States and that is Clostridium Difficile, also known as C Diff. It affects nearly half a million people in the U.S. every year. “…Contrary to the popular belief that C. difficile is typically a hospital-acquired infection, recent studies have revealed that approximately 41% of the infections caused by C. difficile are community-acquired…” Each year, twenty-nine thousand people die within a month of diagnosis and 15,000 people die of the C. Difficile infection. While it can show up without an apparent reason, it often strikes people after they have received antibiotics for another infection.  When this happens, their immune system and microbiome get compromised and thus lay the groundwork for C. Diff to move in. (12)*

“…Scientists discovered C. diff in 1935, but they didn’t recognize it as the major cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea until 1978. The rise of C. diff in the 1970s was triggered by the widespread use of the antibiotic clindamycin. Over the next 20 years, broad-spectrum antibiotics continued to fuel the C. diff epidemic…”1*

Our bodies are made up of approximately 10 trillion cells — and each of us plays host to about 100 trillion bacterial cells with 500-1000 bacterial species living in the digestive tract. Most of these bacteria are harmless with a healthy person having a ratio of approximately 80% good bacteria to 20% unfriendly. Together they create a healthy gut and strong immune system. In the colon, these bacteria are harmless and actually contribute to our health, by stimulating the immune system, producing vitamin K and aiding in the establishment of the proper balance between its components. They detoxify harmful chemicals and crowd out such pathogens as C. Diff. 1*

So why and how did C. Diff become such a problem? The answer is something we have sadly come to know, and that is antibiotics. While antibiotics target aggressive bacteria that cause serious infection, they lay waste on the microbiome, often wiping out all the good bacteria as well…those that keep our bodies healthy. “…When normal intestinal bacteria are wiped out by antibiotics, a void is created and in too many cases, C. diff steps in to fill the void. This especially happens with those who are hospitalized and already have weakened immune systems and are not prepared to withstand the stress of diarrhea and fever…”1*

What exactly is C. diff?

 “…C. diff is classified as an anaerobic bacterium because it thrives in the absence of oxygen. Like its cousins, the Clostridia that cause tetanus, botulism, and gas gangrene, C. diff passes through a life cycle in which the actively dividing form transforms itself into the spore stage. Spores are inert and metabolically inactive, so they don’t cause disease. At the same time, though, spores are very tough and sturdy; they are hard to kill with disinfectants, and they shrug off even the most powerful antibiotics…”1*

  1. diff spreads because patients with C. diff shed spores through their feces. “…The primary mode of disease transmission is the fecal-oral route…” In facilities, where many patients are cohabitating, spores can be transmitted through utensils, hands, and food, and they are swallowed by another patient. Now, in the second patient’s GI tract, the spores come to life. In a healthy person, the good bacterial or healthy balance of bacteria keeps the C. diff bacterium in check without consequences. But if they entered the system of a patient who has been compromised due to antibiotic therapy or illness, C. diff sees an opportunity to grow. As it multiplies, it produces toxins known as toxins A and B, which cause damage to the colon lining. This results in diarrhea and inflammation. “…Ordinary strains of C. diff produce two toxins, called toxins A and B, but the new, worrisome hypervirulent strains produce up to 16 times more toxin A and 23 times more toxin B…” (1,2)*

While any antibiotic can pave the way for C. diff, it is the antibiotics that more severely affect the intestinal tract. Clindamycin is the most common, but other antibiotics include such broad-spectrum antibiotics as penicillins, cephalosporins, and fluoroquinolones. Anti-ulcer medications in the proton-pump inhibitor family may also increase vulnerability because stomach acid helps battle  C. diff.1*

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can even be life-threatening. The wide range of symptoms is classified as CDAD which stands for Clostridium difficile–associated disease. Health care professionals can identify it by its odor, but more precise testing is mandatory. The standard way to diagnose CDAD is to detect C. diff toxins in the patient’s feces.1*

If an antibiotic led to CDAD, the first step is to stop that therapy which is difficult if a patient needs that particular treatment for something else going on in the body. The next step is to administer an antibiotic that will kill C. diff. In most mild to moderate cases, C. diff. infections respond well to two drugs, fidaxomicin or vancomycin. But some patients recover slowly, and relapse is not uncommon. Many health professionals cautions against giving medication to slow diarrhea, as it is the body’s attempt to get rid of the C. diff. Dehydration is a big concern, so that needs to be watched. In cases of severe CDAD, dramatic intervention may take place. In the case of toxic megacolon which is life-threatening, complete removal of the colon may be required.1*

How to prevent C. diff and its spread

Because C. diff moves in when the microbiome is compromised, it is imperative to keep the gut balanced. Supplementing on a daily basis with Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ is one way to help crowd out unfriendly bacteria, and fortify the gut so that C. diff. can’t move in. 1*

  1. diffs is preventable but a prompt diagnosis is important in order for the proper to be taken to isolate the spores before it spreads. In hospitals and long term care facilities, the patient should be in a private room and not share bathroom facilities. Staff should take measures to wash their hands, use gloves and gowns, and remove when leaving the room. C. diff spores resist alcohol-based hand cleansers so soap and water is needed for handwashing, but even soap won’t kill the spores but scrubbing well can remove many of them. C. diff spores can survive on dry surfaces for weeks and even months, so all surfaces in a patient’s room require special care and hypochlorite-based solutions seem to work best. At home, kitchen and bathroom surfaces and fixtures should be cleaned with a bleach and water solution.1*

Because antibiotics are the culprit when it comes to C. diff., antibiotics should only be used when absolutely necessary, with the most narrowly focused drug being used for the shortest amount of time possible. Taking  Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ regularly, when you are healthy, and increasing dosage when you feel something coming on will keep your immune system and your microbiome strong and healthy. Colitis in general and C. Diff specifically are not something to mess around with and we want to avoid at all costs. Take good care and follow preventative measures.

Healthiest wishes,





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