Clostridium difficilecolitis infection is caused by C. diff bacterium that normally reside in the gut but that spiral out of control, trigger symptoms of infection and become potentially life-threatening, according to WebMD. When C. diff bacteria experience an overgrowth, they release toxins that attack the intestinal lining. In its mildest form, C. diff infection can cause watery diarrhea and tenderness and pain in the abdomen.
Particularly bad C. diff infections can cause worsening of symptoms, including increased diarrhea, with those infected going up to 15 times a day, notes WebMD. The condition also causes severe pain in the abdomen, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss and pus or blood in the feces. In the most severe cases, the infection can cause a hole to form in the intestines, which can cause death if treatment is not sought in time.
Although anyone is susceptible to C. diff infection, those who live in long-term care homes or hospitals are particularly prone, usually due to long-term antibiotic use that kills off bacteria that normally keeps C. diff bacteria under control. Other risk factors for C. diff include advanced age, history of colon, bowel or kidney diseases, previous infection caused by C. diff and use of stomach-acid-controlling drugs known as proton-pump inhibitors.