C. Difficile - Treatment

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What kinds of treatment, including medication, did you receive for C. difficile colitis?

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How is C. difficile colitis treated?

Treatment of C. difficile colitis includes:

  • correction of dehydration and electrolyte (mineral) deficiencies,
  • discontinuing the antibiotic that caused the colitis, and
  • using antibiotics to eradicate the C. difficile bacterium.

In patients with mild colitis, stopping the antibiotic that caused the infection may be enough to cause the colitis and diarrhea to subside. In most cases, however, antibiotics are needed to eradicate the C. difficile bacteria.

Antibiotics that are effective against C. difficile include metronidazole (Flagyl), and vancomycin (Vancocin). These two antibiotics usually are taken orally for 10 days. Both antibiotics are equally effective. With either antibiotic, fever usually will resolve in one or two days, and diarrhea in three or four days.

The choice of which antibiotic to use depends on the individual patient's situation and the preferences of the treating doctor. Some doctors will prescribe metronidazole first because it is much cheaper than vancomycin. Vancomycin is reserved for patients who do not respond to metronidazole, are allergic to metronidazole, or develop side effects from metronidazole. Other doctors will prescribe vancomycin first for severe colitis because vancomycin can achieve much higher antibiotic levels in the colon than metronidazole (and higher antibiotic levels theoretically would be more effective in killing bacteria).

Return to Clostridium Difficile Colitis (Antibiotic-Associated Colitis, C. difficile colitis)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Breko, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 03

I developed C difficile over five years ago after a routine surgery. It took a couple of years to get the proper test that came back positive. During that time, I suffered gastro intestinal symptoms and feeling of illness with great fatigue. I have recurring C difficile and have been treated multiple times with Flagyl until I was sent to an infectious disease physician who prescribed vancomycin tapered dose which really helped. I have relapsed four times this past two years. I just finished a 10 day treatment of Dificid. I am also taking SB and Flora Q probiotics which seem to help. My quality of life has suffered, my doctor will send me for a stool transplant if I relapse again. I have managed to keep up with working and hope this nightmare is over soon. I am 48 years old. I noticed improvement when I restricted all dairy. I am lactose intolerant anyway. Some SB have lactose in the formula. I finally found one that was lactose free. I think the stool transplant should be offered earlier.

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Comment from: GrammySan, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 01

I had foot surgery in December of 2010. While in the surgery center I was given cephalexin via IV, then sent home with the pills. Three days post-surgery I developed C. difficile colitis. It is the worst thing I have ever had in my life and I was in a boot cast hobbling to the bathroom 15 times or more per day. I was finally able to make it to my family doctor 11 days later (a 25 minute drive I was too scared to take until then), and given an antibiotic to rid the infection. Three years later I was to have some oral surgery and they were going to give me cephalexin and I immediately said no way. They were quite familiar with C. difficile and gave me a milder antibiotic and I was fine. My friend had the same oral surgeon months later and was given cephalexin and she contracted C. difficile! I wouldn"t wish this infection on my worst enemy.

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