Clostridium difficile: A bacterium that is one of the most common causes of infection of the colon in the US. Patients taking antibiotics are at risk of becoming infected with C. difficile as antibiotics can disrupt the normal bacteria of the bowel, allowing C. difficile to become established in the colon. In some people, a toxin produced by C. difficile causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, severe inflammation of the colon (colitis), fever, an elevated white blood cell count, vomiting, and dehydration. In severely affected patients, the inner lining of the colon becomes severely inflamed (pseudomembranous colitis) with the potential to perforate.
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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016