Bathroom functions make us uncomfortable and as a result people tend to crack jokes about them. Euphemisms for diarrhea–the runs, the trots, Montezuma’s revenge or the squirts–tend to minimize digestive distress.
Diarrhea, however, is no laughing matter. Far too often diarrhea can be deadly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 14,000 Americans die each year as a result of infection caused by Clostridium difficile (C. diff) bacteria.
That’s only part of the story. More than 3 million people suffer from this infection every year, usually as a result of treatment for something else. And it has gotten worse.
Hundreds of visitors to have shared harrowing stories of developing hard-to-treat C. diff infections after taking antibiotics like clindamycin. Here is one example:
“I was prescribed clindamycin for swollen gums. The prescription ran ten days.
“I had no problems for a week, but then I was in the bathroom with diarrhea that I have never experienced before in my life. This was diarrhea from hell! I was in and out of the bathroom every five minutes from 11:30 at night until 8:30 in the morning. There was just no stopping it.
“I caught a few hours sleep, but then the diarrhea was back. That first night I remember going to the bathroom around 27 times and that went on for about three weeks. I went to urgent care four times and have been out of work for about a month now.
“At the first doctor visit, he thought it was just a stomach virus and it would pass. Wrong! A week later I still had symptoms, so I went in again and ended up taking another week off. By the third week when I went in for a stool sample I tested positive for Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff. This was a reaction to the clindamycin and caused all my digestive problems.
“A month after I first took the clindamycin I have been prescribed metronidazole. I feel better now and plan to go back to work in a day or two. In the course of this ordeal I lost weight as well as becoming dehydrated. I advise others to get tested ASAP if you develop diarrhea after taking clindamycin. And don’t forget to wash your hands like a maniac!”
It can be difficult to overcome C. diff infections. Drugs like vancomycin or metronidazole work for some, but the diarrhea can come back after drug treatment. Some strains of C. diff have developed resistance to antibiotic treatment.
Many readers report benefit from probiotics such as Florastor, which contains Saccharomyces boulardii to help reestablish the proper balance of bacteria within the bowel.
In extreme cases, fecal transplants may be needed to recolonize the digestive tract with good bacteria. You can learn more on our website.
Preventing this infection is paramount. The CDC recommends taking broad-spectrum antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. Anyone who gets diarrhea after taking such drugs should notify the prescriber. Be especially vigilant after hospitalization or rehab.
These facilities are often responsible for transferring C. diff from one patient to another. Insist that all health care workers wash their hands thoroughly before and after a visit. And don’t forget to scrub your own hands after using the bathroom.
You can also learn about non-drug approached for diarrhea including probiotics and coconut in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. L

    You need to do this the rest of your life! It is important and can not be taken lightly. If you got an infection it would go right to the replacement and you would be in the hospital having it removed. There was a woman in our town that did not listen she spent one year in a convalescent hospital after getting an infection then having to have the knee appliance removed until the infection was gone. Don’t mess with it DO WHAT YOUR DOCTOR SAYS!

  2. iris

    I recently suffered from 6 months of severe diarrhea. First time in my 67 years of life that I have had that problem for more than a day, and then rarely. It was just never never an issue for me. It started about a month after I made some dietary changes to try to eat healthier. After it started I tried eliminating many different foods to see what was causing it. I finally discovered the source of the problem quite by accident!
    When I had some GI testing done I had to eliminate foods again, and eliminating coffee one day seemed to help. Then, after about a week of improvements, I accidentally came across a little article online about Carrageenan. Ohhhh – the Silk soy milk I had switched to months before, which I had had in my coffee daily (large amounts) had carrageenan in it. So, I went back to coffee and milk, and diarrhea/abdominal cramps still improved.
    After a month now of daily normalcy I am convinced it was the Silk with carrageenan that upset my lower GI. Found it is also in my favorite doughnut from Tim Hortons, and upon reflection I had also had them a little more frequently. It is in the toothpaste I used. I suspect it was an additive that I had consumed in smaller amounts without difficulty, but with the large amounts of Silk I started to drink, it was the CAUSE of my horrid problem.
    I am shocked that I had never read/heard about it before. If anyone is curious, there is other information out there about it. I love People’s Pharmacy because we can share stories and try to help ourselves when the “standard medical” approach does not seem to be beneficial.

  3. LGF

    I work for a dentist. The orthopaedic surgeons in our city ARE the ones who say LIFETIME premedication with antibiotics before certain dental procedures. Our dentists are the ones who feel most premedication is overdone. We defer to the orthopaedic doctors. But I have to say we usually prescribe amoxicillin (but people can have allergic reactions to this).

  4. Vincent

    Had knee replacement over 2 years ago and was told by surgeon premed not necessary over 2 years from replacement.
    My dentist insisted I take clindamycin one hour before work is to be done. Terrible stomach and intestinal pain and diarrhea for over a week so far. I think notice should be given to all dentists that it is not necessary for procedures more than two years prior.
    I understand that dentists are trying to protect themselves from any liability but putting the patient through this pain and discomfort requires an update on when premed should be used or at least put an additional warning on the Clindamycin label.

  5. Sandy

    I took Clindamycin for two teeth that were pulled and slight Gingivitis. 300mg 4 x’s a day till gone…42 tablets. To make a long story short. I had emergency surgery on March 15,2012 and I was released on Aprol 19, 2012. I had severe diarrhea, bloody stools, and mucus. My stool sample came back positive for Clindamycin [Antibiotic] dentist love to use. I had C-Diff to long of an explanation, please look it up.
    I was in the hospital for 5 weeks. They removed 80% of my small intestine. The surgeon had me left the incision open for 5 days and operated everyday and removed my dying intestine little by little. They also removed a blood clot from all the bleeding I had on the inside wall. I was suppose to be on a feeding tube and colostomy for the rest of my life if the surgeon couldn’t save what was left of my intestine.
    My family was told to keep talking to me after the 6th day when they closed me up. I had a hard time waking up and couldn’t remember a lot of this. Now I have nightmares at times and here people talking. My daughter said I was trying to respond to them but couldn’t get my words together. I am so lucky to be alive.. and I am so happy. I don’t have bouts of diarrhea like I did. I have to choose certain foods to eat because all foods don’t agree with my colon and digestion. I have lost 42 lbs.
    It is like you can only eat a few bites and then rest and then a couple of more bites. I get full very easy. Drink lots of water very important. I also keep a journal. I also take Coumadin which is a blood thinner for the blood clot I had. I still go to the lab 1 x a week for blood draw. I see my Hemotolagist every 2 weeks. I see my Primary Care Doctor 1 x a month now. I have to have a cat scan soon to make sure everything is alright. I feel better but everyday is different. I can’t really plan anything until the last minute… they say it takes a good year to recoup for the surgery I had. I hope this gets printed and it helped somebody else.

  6. Marissa

    What are some natural remedies for diarrhea?? I do not know why I have it. I stopped all meds that might cause it a couple of weeks ago. Are there some binding foods that would help?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: You might try coconut, pomegranate or blueberry or bilberry. There are lots of stories on this site from people who have been helped by one of these.
    Strange as it sounds, soluble fiber such as Metamucil can be helpful for this problem as well, even though it is marketed for constipation.
    Getting to the cause of the problem is also important. Evaluate your diet for sources of sugar substitutes. Sugar free gum, candy or jam can cause diarrhea and might not be suspected immediately. If there is nothing in your diet, you should powwow with your doctor to find out what it going on.

  7. DLS

    Was in severe pain due to a toothache and my dentist put me on Clindamycin HCL 300mg @ 1 cap 4x a day for 7 days. Started first dose in April 2012 and in May 2012 developed stomach discomfort, very soft & frequent/urgent bowel movements with blood and mucous, nausea and extreme weakness. Went to my primary care doctor and am waiting for my stool culture results to date.Very disturbed after reading MANY negative reviews from other people who have taken this drug Clindamycin and want to know… has anyone ever “truly” fully recovered after the HORRIBLE experience????

  8. saeed

    Would like to hear more about this scary subject.

  9. Kathleen E.

    A relative with cancer had unrelenting diarrhea after her large bowel was removed. Months later, her surgeon sent her to a gastroenterologist. He gave her codeine as needed. She received immediate relief after months of suffering.

  10. Paul43

    I have had 2 knee replacements–and my dentist was doing the same. I called the doctor who did my operations & he said—after 2 years there is no need to take the anti-biotics.

  11. LF

    You need to consult the doctor who did your knee replacement. I work for a dental practice, and one doctor in particular thinks that prophalactic antibiotics before dental procedures is way over used. We always, however, will defer to the treating physician that performed the surgery. Some orthopaedic doctors say premedicate for the first two years.

  12. EGR

    My dentist requires that I pre-medicate with antibiotics, one hour before each dental appointment, for dental cleaning etc. This is because I had a knee replacement ten years ago. I do not like to take antibiotics, and I think this is unnecessary now because my knee surgery was so long ago. Does anyone have a thought about this?

  13. fbl

    Xarelto, caused a similar problem for me. I called the pharmacy and they said yes I could take more Imodium than the label says. Six a day it took to slow things down plus several doses, up to the max, to stop it.
    It has now been almost five months since my last dose of Xarelto and I’m still having problems. Not as bad, praise the Lord. No the prescription drugs did not stop my problem, the Imodium worked better.
    This was just one of the many serious side effects this drug caused!

  14. Patricia K.

    I had diarrhea for 9 months, went to gastro people and had many tests all of which were negative. I kept food diaries of everything eaten for months on end… in the end they just said my stomach was not functioning right. I was on several very expensive drugs that drug plans would not cover, about the only thing I ate one summer was roasted meat and water melon, the only things that seem to keep from having the diarrhea.
    Long story short, got a substitute doctor at my primary care doctors office and he put me on Florastor at 8 times the normal dosage. IT WORKED! I had been taking probiotics however this is both a bacterial and yeast probiotic, I don’t know if this made the difference. It is expensive to take this quantity and not covered by insurance but it was not as expensive as the other drugs tried that did not work. It has been several years now and have not had a reoccurance of the problems.

  15. Paul43

    Would like to hear more about this scary subject.

  16. J.L.W.

    I contracted Shegellosis after being in contact with the bacteria while caring for my son after he returned from a trip to India. Both he and my husband were ill with weakness and diarrhea for approximately 1 to 2 weeks. Shigella bacteria never showed up in my son’s stool culture. I, on the other hand, became so ill and weakened that I went to our local ER after two weeks of explosive diarrhea. It was there that the bacteria showed up in my stool culture. I was on I.V. fluids because of severe dehydration, and I.V. antibiotics, Ciprofloxacin and Flagyl. I was told later that I was in renal failure when I was admitted to the hospital. This was early in November, 2011. I was hospitalized for almost 4 days, then discharged.
    After I had been home for almost two weeks, I was hospitalized again after a Public Health Nurse called me, then called my M.D. to tell him that I was still having diarrhea. She had been in touch with me before. The second time I was admitted with early signs of pancreatitis. I was in the hospital again for close to 4 days. Same round of I.V. antibiotics and fluids. I have had follow-up stool cultures which do not show the shigella bacteria, but I am still having diarrhea almost SIX months since this whole nightmare began. I tried eating Activia yoghurt with no luck. Now I am taking probiotic colon support capsules. I might have what seems like a “normal” bowel movement, then it just starts up all over again.
    I feel well otherwise and have gained back any weight I lost when I was ill, but life is not normal or carefree because I never know what the next hour or day will bring.

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