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CDI: A Growing Risk

Once a risk for elderly and those exposed to hospitals and long-term care facilities, CDI (Clostridium Difficile Infection), is on the rise. Often referred to C. difficcile or C. diff, this bacterium attacks the intestinal lining of its host causing symptoms that range from mild to severe.

The Spread

C. diff is found throughout our environment in food, water, air, soil, and in some people who carry the bacteria and don’t know it, but mostly commonly it is found in feces, and it is through feces that C. diff is usually spread.

Hospitals. C. diff can live for months outside the body on nearly any surface, so the spread of the infection can become rampant if proper sanitation is not practiced. In places where people are in close contact and feces are handled regularly, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, the number infected is much higher.

Antibiotics. Our bodies carry both good and bad bacteria, yet when we take antibiotics both the good and bad are affected leaving us vulnerable to infection. Therefore, long term use of antibiotics, especially broad-spectrum antibiotics, elevate our risk for contracting CDI.

Additional Risks. Even those who aren’t on antibiotics can carry an added risk. Higher risk individuals include anyone who has under gone GI surgery, has a weakened immune system, takes chemotherapy drugs, has kidney disease, takes proton-pump inhibitors, or has a colon disease such as IBS or colorectal cancer.

Precautions. Since C. diff is transferred from person to person through infected surfaces, proper hygiene is the most effective precaution. Washing hands regularly, especially after handling feces, and frequently cleaning of surfaces are vital in stopping the spread of infection. In addition, if you are taking antibiotics use them only as prescribed.

The Symptoms

C. diff attacks the intestinal lining causing a variety of symptoms that can range widely in severity. Those infected experience diarrhea, abdominal pain or tenderness, nausea, loss of appetite, fever, blood or pus in stool, weight loss, or severe pain. A mild case of CDI usually causes diarrhea three times a day where a severe case can increase to about 15 times a day. Any symptom or suspected case of CDI is dangerous leading to dehydration with possible kidney failure, a hole in the intestines, toxic mega-colon (inability to expel gas and stool), and even death.

The Help

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience symptoms of Clostridium Difficile Infection as the longer you wait the more at risk for serious complications you become. For any stomach concerns, contact GI North. As gastroenterologists, Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano, are especially qualified to help. Located in Cumming, GA, GI North is conveniently located to service Cumming and the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee. Contact GI North for a medical experience combining advanced technology and personalized care.

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