Clostridium difficile infections can cause life-threatening diarrhea. Experts estimate that half a million people contract C diff infections annually and nearly 30,000 die. Once people develop C diff, they are at risk for recurrent diarrhea.
What Can Be Done to Overcome Recurrent Diarrhea?
A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that multiply recurrent C diff infections have increased by 189% in the past decade. The authors note that recent use of antibiotics, corticosteroids or PPI-type acid suppressing drugs are potential risk factors for such repeat infections leading to recurrent diarrhea.
Treatment with antibiotics becomes less effective for these patients. Instead, doctors are beginning to employ fecal microbiota transplantation even though it is expensive and relatively unregulated.
Ma et al, Annals of Internal Medicine, July 4, 2017
Although this treatment for recurrent diarrhea caused by C. diff has a strong ick factor, gastroenterologists have embraced it. Researchers published an early study in 2013. Here is what we wrote back then:
Fecal Transplant Fights C. Diff:
The nasty infection, Clostridium difficile, that can cause debilitating diarrhea often appears in the aftermath of antibiotic treatment. Killing off many other bacteria that are normal residents of the gastrointestinal tract leaves an ecological niche that C. diff exploits. As a result, antibiotic treatment for C. diff is not always effective.
Dutch researchers reported that fecal transplant worked better than the usual treatment with the heavy-duty antibiotic vancomycin. The feces from healthy donors provided a diverse array of bacteria and were delivered through a nasoduodenal tube. The only side effects were mild cramping and diarrhea (van Nood et al, New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 17, 2013).
There are many reports from readers who have suffered C diff following a course of the antibiotic clindamycin. Read them here. You can also learn more about what People’s Pharmacy visitors have said about fecal transplants.