I survived a life-threatening bout of C Diff and severe sepsis.
Sanitize everything. Not everything will kill C Diff spores. They are very persistent.
S boulardii is a probiotic that specifically targets C Diff. Both you and your mom must take it.
It's also good to do other probiotics--I recommend Align because it is well-researched and verified, and I recommend acidophilus. After I left the hospital, the doctor had me taking one probiotic a day. I asked a few weeks later if I could take more, and they agreed to 10-12 a day. When I started doing that, I felt much, much better.
Here is a helpful link:
Here is a summary I wrote for a friend:
This is a Mayo Clinic link that offers a lot of information.
This is a more technical, medical summary with lots more detail:
C diff is easy to determine with a lab test (stool sample).
Medicines to firm up the stools are absolutely ineffective with c diff.
Of the three medications currently available for treatment, metronidazole is the one that is usually tried first and is cheapest. It is also the least effective. With a real case of c diff, this drug should be taken only until the patient can get one of the other two drugs. In my case, metronidazole was unable to kill my infection. It is my opinion, not just from my experience but also from reading medical research, that waiting to see if this drug will work or not is a waste of time.
The other consideration with metronidazole is alcohol consumption. It is essential to avoid even the tiniest alcohol consumption while on this drug. Just a small amount will result in lots of pain, vomiting, and other symptoms.
Vancomycin is much, much more effective. The medical literature indicates that this one or fidaxomicin are the drug of choice for severe infections. They are far more expensive. When I was in the hospital, I took massive doses of both vancomycin and metronidazole together. When released from the hospital, the metronidazole alone was ineffective. I switched from that to vancomycin alone in February, and I took vancomycin from February through June.
The vancomycin regimen was pulsed. Initially I took it daily. Over time I was told to take it every other day, then every two days, and so on. In June, I took it once a week. Because this infection is so tenacious, this is what is recommended, though not all doctors are aware of that. The first doctor who prescribed for me did not know this. I ended up switching my care to a university hospital in March, and they felt that a pulsed regimen was superior. The research bears this out as well.
C Diff antibiotics are considered necessary for a long term. Six weeks is the bare minimum, and many need it longer (six months or more).
(I was kind of angry about the metronidazole. When I was well enough to start researching what had happened to me, it was clear from the medical literature (research reports, medical testing, etc.) that metronidazole is rarely effective in really killing this infection. It seemed an unnecessary risk to my life and long-term intestinal health to play around with this milder drug.)
The risk of taking vancomycin that long is red man syndrome. This is most commonly understood to be an immediate reaction similar to an allergic reaction. However, it can also happen to people who take this drug over a long period of time. I did not suffer this, but I know someone who did.
Fidaxomicin is considered the most effective. It is likely what I will try if I have another infection. It is not as commonly used because it is terrifically expensive.
The other two issues that are a concern with c diff are yeast/fungal infection due to the powerful antibiotics and the effects of this illness on the heart. Consider taking fluconazole or other antifungals as well as potassium for heart issues.
The other treatment for severe c diff is a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). Here in the US, it is done in two instances: if the patient's life is in danger, or if the patient suffers at least three separate recurrances of c diff infection. This procedure is considered experimental, but so far it is shown to be extremely effective. Studies show greater than 90% efficacy.
The concerns for this procedure are much the same as with most transplants, but also specifically a concern about the effect on other health concerns. The research at present is focused on determining the risk of "catching" other health conditions from the donor such as cancer or diabetes. This risk is not quantified at present and largely unknown.
While the infection rages, diet is a consideration. When I was in the hospital, I decided to not eat until my symptoms improved. Eating invariably meant pain and nausea and more distressing symptoms. However, that is the worst choice for this infection, and I am thankful for the kind nurse who explained this to me. It is essential to continue eating, even if only broth and jello, so that the intestinal system will continue working. Had I refused nourishment, the risk of the intestinal system dying would have been significantly higher. When I was at my sickest in the ICU, my diet consisted of beef or chicken broth and jello. I progressed from there to bananas, applesauce, and pureed hot cereals. In the early months, I found myself craving Chinese egg drop soup also. My husband and daughter were wonderful--it is a simple soup to make (broth, green onion, and egg with a little soy sauce), and they made endless bowls of it for me. I also craved French onion soup, which is similar but without the egg.
When I was home after hospitalization, coping with the infection while taking medicines, my diet for a long time was pureed or softened food. There are some foods that help with recovery. They are homemade meat broth (specifically made with the bones), gelatin, and fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, or pickles. Sour dough bread or sprouted grain bread is also recommended. For the long term, they recommend continuing with these foods and also embracing a Mediterranean diet. The reason for these foods is because of the probiotic and prebiotic content. I recently read that oatmeal and oat bran are helpful as well.
They also recommend kombucha. However, this is a stimulant, both because it is often fermented in caffeinated tea, and also because of a byproduct produced in the fermentation that is a powerful stimulant. Some experience elevated heart rate or palpitations as well as terrible anxiety.
Many who contract c diff also suffer deep, chronic, debilitating depression afterward. I am thankful to say I avoided this. However, the theory is that the destruction of gut microbes is the reason for the severe depression. It is something to be aware of.
It is also common for c diff sufferers to later also be diagnosed with various gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and others.
Another consideration is the importance of probiotics. (Above)
Even more importantly, lab tests have shown that the probiotic saccharomyces boulardii is particularly effective with c diff. The university hospital recommended it to me, as did another doctor I consulted. Many c diff sufferers take this routinely for years following infection. It is usually recommended to take s boulardii separately from other probiotics, at a different time of day.
Edited by Harriet Vane, 20 March 2017 - 09:41 PM.