Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a common bacteria often found in the soil, air and
water. It is present in small amounts in a very small percentage of the population. Under normal circumstances, it doesn’t cause any harm. However, if C. diff is given room to grow, it multiplies and can crowd out the gut’s beneficial bacteria. This can occur during or after a course of antibiotics, which are meant to kill bacteria that cause infections, but also can wipe out the helpful bacteria.
When a C. diff infection takes hold, it releases toxins that inflame the lining of the colon, causing diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. Many C. diff infections originate in hospitals, long-term care facilities and other healthcare settings, following a course of antibiotics for an unrelated illness, with symptoms often displaying after the patient is back home sometimes months afterward.
Risk factors for C. diff infection include:
Immunosuppressive medications: People who are undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments that suppress the immune system are less able to defend themselves against C. diff.
People over age 65: Almost half of infections are in people younger than 65, but more than 90 percent of C. diff-related deaths are in people over age 65.
Use of proton inhibitor pumps: Medications that decrease acid in the stomach can make you more susceptible to C. diff.
Symptoms vary based on how inflamed the colon has become; however, in severe cases, a C. diff infection can lead to life-threatening dehydration, low blood pressure, toxic megacolon (an acutely distended colon that requires surgery), and colon perforation.
Treatment for C. diff is treated with the very thing that most often causes it: antibiotics. Vancomycin is perhaps the most common treatment for a C. diff. infection and is currently the recommended first-line medication for severe cases. It is an antibiotic medication particularly suited for treating infections in the gastrointestinal system. When used for C diff, Vancomycin must be given by mouth and not by IV.
If Vancomycin is unsuccessful in eradicating your C. diff infection, physicians will often prescribe IV-infused medications. Currently there are a few different infusion therapy medications available to treat C. diff infections including:
Metronidazole. Metronidazole can be administered orally, but is often prescribed for C. diff infection as an IV infusion therapy. Metronidazole is the second most common antibiotic treatment for C. diff and is useful as a first-line therapy for mild to moderate cases. Generally, Metronidazole is not prescribed for severe cases of C. diff infection.
Zinplava (Bezlotoxumab). Unlike Vancomycin and Metronidazole, Zinplava is not an antibiotic but rather a monoclonal (human-made) antibody. While Zinplava does not treat the infection itself, it binds to the C. diff. Toxin B in order to reduce recurrence of the infection. Alongside antibiotic treatment, Zinplava has proven to be an effective treatment option for
patients with C. diff.
If you have contracted a C. diff infection and are considering infusion therapy, at
Heartland Infusion Pharmacy, we can help. We stock most of the often-prescribed IV therapy medications and can quickly procure those specialty IV medications prescribed by your physician.
Our infusion therapy centers are comfortable, convenient and staffed by healthcare professionals experienced and trained to administer every medication we provide. We also are adept at the physician referral process and health insurance concerns. Please contact Heartland Infusion Pharmacy for general information about C. diff, or any chronic condition or wellness concern where IV infusion is an option.