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: 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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Comment from: Mary8479, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 22

I was started on Flagyl in the hospital. I was also given supplements for malnutrition. I also had a constant stream of Zofran in the IV for nausea. Less than 2 months later I got C. difficile colitis again. I was given a more aggressive course of Flagyl and it was successful.

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