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Senior Health - C. Diff Causes and Symptoms

Oct 15, 2017 by Comfort Keepers Newark, DE

Many people would agree that being admitted to the hospital or put into a nursing home is not on the top of their to-do list. They’re crowded, uncomfortable, and are generally seen as negative experiences for patients. Unfortunately, though, this is the reality for many people, especially seniors. 

Another reason to be weary of these facilities is the ever-looming threat of C. diff. This infection can be rather dangerous for seniors, so it’s important to avoid it at all costs. Here is what you need to know about C. Diff.

What is C Diff ?

C. diff is the abbreviation for clostridium difficile, a bacteria that causes mild to very severe diarrhea. It is perhaps the most common form of infectious, diarrhea-causing bacteria in healthcare settings and senior living facilities.

How is C Diff transmitted?

This bacterium is present in feces, and spreads through physical contact with fecal matter. The average person generally doesn’t touch fecal matter, so no worries, right?

Wrong. The fecal matter can become airborne, and stick to virtually any surface until someone touches said surface, where it can then be absorbed and cause an infection. It’s quite easy to get infected yourself, or for a healthcare worker to spread it from patient to patient. All it takes is touching the bare hand of an infected patient or not washing your hands when handling anything in their room (the bathroom especially).

What are the symptoms of C Diff?

It really depends on the person. Some people can have C. diff and not feel any symptoms, and it’ll pass naturally. This is the most common way C. diff is introduced to healthcare settings, as someone who doesn't know they have it can quickly contaminate a whole floor/building of already sick people.

Common Reported C Diff Symptoms Can Include:

  • Watery diarrhea (the most common symptom)
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Blood or pus in the stool

What is the best way to prevent C Diff?

Simply put, the best way to prevent both the contraction and spreading of C. diff is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.

What are the treatment options for C Diff?

For people who are having only mild symptoms, the treatment is simply to isolate them from other patients until the bacteria passes.

For people with more severe symptoms, antibiotics come into play. Going further, those who have “chronic” C. diff (people who keep contracting it repeatedly) may have to undergo surgery to remove infection portions of their intestines.

The threat of C. diff is is a very serious one and the risk of it is directly related to the environment your senior is in and the precautionary measures that are in place. If you are hospitalized or living in a nursing facility, be sure that you, the staff taking care of you or your senior, and any loved one who comes to visit always wash your hands and keep surfaces clean.

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