What Is Clostridium Difficile Infection?

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a type of bacteria that causes inflammation of the digestive system. It is generally found in small amounts in nearly everyone’s intestines, but taking oral antibiotics can allow C. diff to grow uncontrolled.

When you take antibiotics, they kill healthy bacteria along with the harmful ones. Without the healthy bacteria to protect your digestive tract, C. diff can take over, releasing toxins that cause inflammation, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Risk factors for C. diff infection include:

  • Long-term antibiotic use
  • Using broad-spectrum antibiotics or multiple antibiotics
  • Using medications to reduce stomach acid in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Staying in a hospital or long-term care facility
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Old age
  • Previous C. diff infection