Symptoms of a mild to moderate C. difficile, or c diff, infection are three or more instances of watery diarrhea for two or more days and slight abdominal cramping or pain, according to Mayo Clinic. A serious c diff infection has more severe symptoms and may require hospitalization.
Symptoms of a critical case of c diff include diarrhea 10 to 15 times each day, strong abdominal cramps and pain, fever, blood or pus in the stool, appetite loss, nausea, and a swollen abdomen, Mayo Clinic reports. Some patients suffer dehydration or kidney failure. In addition, white blood cell count rises. However, a small number of infected people have no symptoms.
C diff bacterial infections most commonly occur in adults who have been taking antibiotics in hospitals or long-term care institutions, states Mayo Clinic. While the drugs kill harmful bacteria, they sometimes also destroy beneficial bacteria that help keep c diff under control.
C diff bacteria are typically found in some foods, in feces, and in various soil, air and water samples, Mayo Clinic explains. The disease usually spreads from feces to other substances when infected people do not wash their hands carefully. C diff bacteria are able to live on surfaces for weeks or even months. Through touch, unsuspecting people transport c diff to their mouths, and the bacteria are ingested.