Antibiotic-associated Colitis—C difficile

(Antibiotic-associated Diarrhea, Clostridium difficile-induced Colitis, C diff)

Definition

Antibiotic-associated colitis is an irritation in your large intestine caused by an infection. It happens when there is a disruption in the normal bacteria of your intestines after taking antibiotic medication allowing bad bacteria to take over. Colitis can lead to diarrhea and abdominal cramping. The infection is often very serious.
The Stomach, Liver, and Intestines
Normal Anatomy of the Large and Small Intestine
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Your intestine is normally full of good bacteria. When you take antibiotics, they often kill all the good bacteria in your intestine. This creates a perfect home for bacteria called Clostridium difficile ( C. diff ) . This particular bacteria is not killed by the antibiotics and begins to grow out of control. As it grows, the bacteria makes toxins. These toxins irritate the lining of the intestine and cause swelling, leading to pain and diarrhea.

Risk Factors

An infection with this bacteria is most common in older people, or people staying in hospitals or other care centers. Other factors that increase your chance of having this condition include:

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