Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile Infection
C diff Infection
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Clostridioides difficile (C diff) is an infection of the intestine caused by bacteria.
The infection is caused by the C diff bacterium. It makes toxins as it grows. This bothers the lining of the intestine.
The intestines have a healthy balance of bacteria that help with digestion. Antibiotics can disturb this balance by killing some bacteria which lets others grow in their place. C diff may be able to grow after certain antibiotics.
The infection can also spread:
This problem is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Problems range from mild to severe and may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Common tests are:
Rarely, the intestine may need to be viewed to look for changes. This can be done with an endoscopy.
People who have C diff but do not have symptoms do not need to be treated.
The goal of treating people who do have symptoms is to treat the infection. Choices are:
Proper hand washing is the best way to lower the risk of this problem. Other ways are:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Public Health Agency of Canada
Clostridium difficile infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/clostridioides-clostridium-difficile-infection-in-adults-19. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Clostridium difficile infection information for patients. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/cdiff/cdiff-patient.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
C. difficile care at home. C Diff Foundation website. Available at: https://cdifffoundation.org/2014/08/14/c-difficile-care-at-home. Accessed January 29, 2021.
McDonald LC, Gerding DN, et al. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Clostridium difficile Infection in Adults and Children: 2017 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). Clin Infect Dis 2018 Mar 19;66(7):e1.
C difficile-a rose by any other name... Lancet Infect Dis. 2019 May;19(5)449. Available at www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(19)30177-X/fulltext?rss=yes. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 4/20/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.