Clostridioides difficile (C.diff or CDI)

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Clostridioides difficile (CDI) – previously known as Clostridium difficile – is one of many different bacteria that live in our bowels, rarely causing us problems.

How do you get Clostridioides difficile?
Clostridioides difficile diarrhoea happens most frequently when people take antibiotics. Some antibiotics change the delicate balance of bacteria in our bowel, allowing CDI to grow in number. This can cause diarrhoea.

How is a diagnosis made?
Diagnosis is normally made by sending a specimen of diarrhoea to the laboratory for testing.

How will I be looked after?
Because patients in hospital are often more vulnerable it may be necessary to care for you in a single room while you have diarrhoea. CDI may be spread on peoples’ hands (however the bacteria still needs to find its way into the gut). Staff caring for you will wash their hands and wear gloves and aprons to protect you and other patients.

Can my visitors catch Clostridium difficile?
Healthy people very rarely catch CDI. The greatest risk is to those who are frail or unwell (like other hospital patients). If frail visitors are planning to visit the ward please ask the nurses for advice. It is not necessary for visitors to wear gloves and aprons. It is important, however, that visitors wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the ward.

How will I be treated?
If your diarrhoea is not getting better, your doctor may change your antibiotics or stop them. They may also prescribe another antibiotic to treat the infection. The antibiotic Metronidazole is often used. A 10-14day course is usually enough to treat the infection. You may be referred to the dietician and Gastrointestinal doctors. If your symptoms do not stop, it is important you tell your doctor.

What can I do to speed up my recovery?
It is important that you wash your hands with soap and water before you eat or drink and after you have been to the toilet. Make sure that any food you have is covered or kept inside your Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts checks and reviews links and content to external websites at the time atient information goes to print. Please note, links and content on  xternal websites may be changed, updated, or removed locker (unless it needs to be in a fridge).

What happens when I stop having diarrhoea?
Once the diarrhoea has stopped, it means the infection is settling. If your bowels have been normal for 48-72 hours, it should be possible for you to move out of your single room – the nursing staff will advise you.

Will it delay my discharge from hospital?
Your doctors will decide if you are well enough to go home. They may want to make sure that your diarrhoea is settling and that you are able to eat and drink normally. It is important that you talk to the nurses or doctor if you are worried. If you are waiting to be transferred to another hospital the transfer may be delayed until your symptoms have settled. The staff will ensure that your GP is aware of your recent CDI diagnosis.

What happens if I have diarrhoea again?
Sometimes the diarrhoea can start again. This may be after you have gone home, or while you are still in hospital. It is difficult to know exactly what the cause of the diarrhoea is. It can sometimes be because of the same infection, or another reason. It is important to tell a doctor or nurse if your diarrhoea starts up again. You may be asked to provide a specimen by either your G.P. (if you are at home), or the nurses, if you are still in hospital.

Who can I talk to?
If you have any questions about your condition, please talk to one of the nursing or medical staff. For further information please contact: Your local Infection Prevention & Control Department.
◼ Milton Keynes University Hospital, Tel: 01908 995788.
◼ Community Health Service (Community Infection Prevention and Control Team), Tel: 01908 724711.