When you go to a hospital or begin taking antibiotics, you expect to feel better within a few days. But sometimes, an infection that is unrelated to your original condition can set you back and pose a significant health risk. Clostridium difficile is a bacterium in your lower intestine that can cause diarrhea, nausea, and dehydration. Here at Baygastros – Bay Area Gastroenterology in Trinity, FL, we offer fecal transplantation to treat C diff infections.
This method is suitable for people who have a recurring Clostridium difficile infection that can’t be addressed with antibiotics. A stool sample from a healthy donor is inserted into the patient’s gut and works to create a better balance of bacteria. Today, we’ll have a closer look at what this treatment involves and whether it could be a suitable solution for you.
Is Fecal Transplantation for C Diff Effective?
If you are suffering from Clostridium difficile for the first time, your gastroenterologist might simply prescribe an antibiotic that can make the condition disappear. However, around a quarter of patients experience this issue several times, either because the infection never truly disappears or because they have been infected by another strain.
In such cases, taking antibiotics isn’t enough, and your doctor will suggest additional treatment. One emerging and promising option is a fecal microbiota transplant, which involves placing a donor’s stool containing healthy bacteria inside your intestine. Recent studies have shown that the success rate of this treatment is very high, and 85% of people with recurring infections no longer experience symptoms after one or several sessions.
What To Expect
After your treatment, you can leave the clinic and recover in your own home for the remainder of the day. Your gut might take several days or weeks to adjust and build up new, healthy bacteria. Although your final results may not occur until 10+ weeks after your session, you should experience significant relief within two days. Most doctors consider the results of a fecal microbiota transplantation to be permanent.
What Is Clostridium Difficile Infection?
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that is naturally present in many people’s bowel, along with a number of other microbes. However, when the balance of bacteria in your large intestine changes, Clostridium difficile can cause an infection. This usually occurs after a course of antibiotics, but it can also be the result of an infection in a hospital setting.
While the condition is generally mild and passes with simple treatment, there is a risk of it causing life-threatening damage to your intestine. If you experience severe symptoms such as unmanageable diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss, you shouldn’t hesitate to call your gastroenterologist because you could be at risk of developing complication. Usually, a simple treatment can help you get rid of the infection.
The most common cause of a Clostridium difficile infection is antibiotic medicine. When you take antibiotics, they kill harmful bacteria, but they can also attack the beneficial ones inside your gut. As a result, the balance of bacteria changes, and Clostridium difficile can take over. Although there are over 170,000 annual infections recorded outside of hospital settings, most people who suffer from this condition are in a hospital or care facility.
In fact, over 200,000 people catch Clostridium difficile each year while staying at a medical facility. The condition affects mostly people over 65 who already have other health concerns, but it can happen to anyone. Fortunately, preventative measures have improved in recent years, so the number of cases is dropping.
Usually, people begin suffering from their infection around 5-10 days after they begin taking antibiotics, but the problem can occur on the first day or up to three months after the end of the antibiotic treatment. A mild form of infection is nothing to be concerned about, and it can easily be treated by your local gastroenterologist. You might be suffering from Clostridium difficile if you have mild cramping in your abdomen as well as watery diarrhea.
Unfortunately, some people experience a more severe form of the infection. In this case, patients may have watery diarrhea up to 15 times a day, dehydration, a rapid heart rate, nausea, loss of appetite and weight loss, a swollen abdomen, and more. Unless severe Clostridium difficile is treated rapidly, the patient will need to go to a hospital because the dehydration and intestinal inflammation can be dangerous or even life-threatening.
How Does Fecal Microbiota Transplantation Work?
Now you know what C diff does to your body, you might wonder how fecal transplantation works and whether it’s the best treatment for you. When you first come to the clinic, we will have a look at your symptoms and run some tests to make sure that you are really suffering from a Clostridium difficile infection. The same symptoms can be caused by several other issues, so we need to rule out illnesses such as a stomach flu.
Once we’ve established that you have Clostridium difficile, we will examine your health history to find out whether you have suffered from this issue before. If not, your doctor might simply prescribe some antibiotics that can remove the infection from your body. However, those with recurring symptoms are generally good candidates for a fecal microbiota transplant.
Before you can be treated, a donor needs to be identified. Many people feel more comfortable with a donation that comes from someone they know. This person should be in good general health, have a strong immune system, and they shouldn’t have taken antibiotics in the past six months. Your donor will need to undergo a variety of tests to rule out illness and infection.
Two days before you come to the clinic, you will need to stop taking any antibiotics. If you take prescription medication and supplements, you should let your doctor know, so they can decide whether you should continue taking these or not. Depending on the chosen treatment method, you will need to follow a liquid diet before your session.
If your gastroenterologist decides that a fecal transplantation for C diff is the way to go, they will let you know how the treatment works. In many cases, your doctor inserts the stool into your gut through a colonoscopy. In this case, you will take a laxative several hours before your treatment, so your intestine is empty and the colonoscope can be inserted easily.
To make the treatment more pleasant for you and to prevent problems, we will administer sedatives and fluids via an IV during your colonoscopy. Although it is less common, the sample can also be transported to your gut via a nasoduodenal tube. You can speak to your doctor about these two options and make a decision about which one is a better fit for your individual situation.
A fecal microbiota transplant is an outpatient treatment, which means that you won’t have to stay at the clinic overnight. After the transplant has occurred, you will be left to rest and recover from your sedation. Later, you will be released, and you can go home, where you will rest for the remainder of the day. You should always bring someone with you to the clinic, since you shouldn’t drive after your transplant.
You can expect to see the benefits of your treatment very quickly. In fact, most people feel relief within 48 hours. However, the bacteria in your gut will take some time to adjust, and it may take up to three months for them to be similar to those of the donor. Thus, your results will be augmented over time, and they are considered permanent. According to recent studies, most people are still benefiting from better gut health one year after treatment.
Get Rid of Your Bacterial Infection Now
The bacterium Clostridium difficile is present in many people’s large intestine, and it doesn’t always cause a problem. But unfortunately, the use of an antibiotic or a stay at a hospital can trigger an infection. Most commonly, people over the age of 65 suffer from Clostridium difficile infection, but it can occur in anyone. The main symptoms are watery diarrhea and pain in the abdomen.
If you have been suffering from C diff for a while and you can’t get rid of your infection, you shouldn’t hesitate to visit your local gastroenterologist. They will analyze your symptoms, run the relevant tests, and determine whether fecal transplantation, an innovative and highly successful treatment, is the way to go. Get in touch with us now at Baygastros – Bay Area Gastroenterology in Trinity, FL to speak to one of our experts.