Diarrhea is a common gastrointestinal occurrence, but it can get out of hand pretty quickly. While most diarrhea clears up on its own, there are certain instances in which diarrhea can be deadly. Depending on the source of diarrhea, there are treatment options that you can take to treat it at home. However, more serious cases can develop from certain bacteria like C. diff, or Clostridium difficile. In this article, we will look at diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile (or if it is suspected to be) and how you can manage C. diff at home.
What is Clostridium difficile?
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that can aggravate the colon and cause a wide array of issues. Sometimes C. diff only causes diarrhea and goes away on its own, whereas other people can develop life-threatening colitis, dehydration, organ failure, bowel perforation, bowel rupture and/or death. C. diff is no little stomach bug!
How to Treat C. diff at Home
In many cases, a C. diff infection worsens to where you will need professional medical attention. Let’s talk about ways to deal with C. diff diarrhea. Many of these tips can be applicable to other forms of diarrhea, so keep reading for some helpful information!
Tip #1: Analyze the severity of your illness
Since C. diff can get out of hand and get dangerous rather rapidly, it is important that you analyze the severity of your illness right away. You may be experiencing diarrhea and not know if it is caused by C. diff. Keeping track of your symptoms and self-monitoring how your illness progresses is essential. Severe forms of a C. diff infection will need immediate medical attention.
Tip #2: Know the symptoms of a C. diff infection
Mild cases of a C. diff infection involve watery diarrhea at least 3 times per day for multiple days and some minor abdominal cramping or pain. More severe cases may involve frequent diarrhea (as much as 10 to 15 times per day), fever, intense abdominal cramping and pain, weight loss, dehydration and blood or pus in the stool. If you are concerned that yourC. diff is more than a minor infection, call your doctor immediately or go to the hospital.
Tip #3: Take your temperature
Take frequent temperature checks to see if you develop a fever. A fever is a sign that you may be developing a more severe illness. While you can get a thermometer at nearly any big box store, I would suggest using this thermometer for adults and children since it is waterproof for easy cleaning and can alert you if you have a fever (and tell you to take action).
Tip #4: Take a look into your toilet bowl
If you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is look into your toilet bowel after an unpleasant bout of diarrhea! However, what happens in the bathroom can help you determine if your C. diff is worsening. Check your stool for blood or pus. If you notice either of these in your stool, call your doctor!
Tip #5: Stay hydrated
Regardless if your diarrhea is caused by C. diff or not, dehydration is a big risk when you have loose stools. Prevent dehydration with a water bottle that has measured time and fluid volume lines like this Three Drops of Life 50oz water bottle. This is good for daily hydration, however, when you’re sick, fill it up and drink down to the line by the time indicated. This bottle can sure take the guess work out of how much you’re drinking, it and keeps you accountable while you’re sick.
Tip #6: Try the BRAT diet
The BRAT diet is a temporary diet that strives to relieve loose stools. On the BRAT diet, you eat foods that contain soluble fiber (fiber that is responsible for creating a gel in your intestine to help you produce well-formed, easy-to-pass stools). The main foods to eat on the BRAT diet are bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, however other foods like crackers and potatoes can be consumed as well. For more information about what to eat when you’re sick, click here.
Tip #7: Wash your hands frequently
Proper handwashing is essential for everyone! However, when you’re sick with diarrhea, protect yourself and others from spreading the infection. In fact, when someone is admitted to the hospital with a severe C. diff infection, hospital staff must wear special gowns, gloves and masks for a contact precaution! See if you are washing your hands correctly by reviewing the CDC handwashing guidelines.
Tip #8: Disinfect all surfaces
When someone in your household has diarrhea, things can get nasty! Try to confine the diarrhea (and other bodily fluids) as much as possible, but be sure to keep some cleaning products in your home to clean up accidents. I like to use wipes like the Lysol disinfectant wipes for easy cleanup. You can use these in the kitchen, bathroom and even on electronics.
Tip #9: Limit close contact with others
Like we mentioned in Tip #7, contact precautions are used in the hospital when a C. diff infection is severe. While you may not have a severe diarrheal infection, protect yourself and others by staying home. Take a sick day at work or keep your child home from school so that the infection does not spread. Besides, no one wants to be at work or school with diarrhea!