Skip to main content
Social Media: Connect with UsAccessibility  |  About  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms

Pseudomembranous Entercolitis: Facts and Treatment

  • Published: 2009-06-26 (Revised/Updated 2017-02-17) : Thomas C. Weiss (Disabled World).
  • Synopsis: Pseudomembranous Colitis involves an infection of the persons large intestine with an overgrowth of the Clostridium Difficile Bacteria.

Main Document

Quote: "Diagnosis of pseudomembranous colitis involves a colonoscopy, a sigmoidoscopy, or an immunoassay for C Difficile toxin. The results of these tests gives a doctor the information needed in order to make a diagnosis."

Pseudomembranous Colitis Definition

The diarrhea persons experience secondary to antimicrobials may be classified into four different categories; they are classified according to the basis of the changes which happen in the person's colon. One of the changes produces pseudomembrane formation of the wall of the person's large intestine. Perhaps the most characteristic form of antibiotic-associated colitis produced by clostridia difficile is, 'Pseudomembranous Colitis,' which results in inflammation, as well as tissue death of the lining membrane and the deeper layers of the person's intestine. This usually happens within four to ten days after the start of antibiotic therapy; however, nearly one-fourth of persons develop the disorder once their antibiotic therapy has ceased. Persons who are severely ill with the disorder experience a nearly thirty-percent mortality rate. Other names for Pseudomembranous Colitis include, 'Antibiotic-associated Colitis and Necrotizing Colitis.

Causes

Pseudomembranous Colitis related to the use of antibiotics is caused by toxins which are produced by the bacterium Clostridium Difficile. Any antibiotic can cause the syndrome to happen, to include antibiotics that have been used in order to treat the disease such as Metronidazole or Vancomycin.

Pseudomembranous Colitis happens more often with antibiotics such as penicillins, clindamycin, or cephalosporins. Medical science does not fully understand the exact causes of pseudomembranous colitis. What is known is that there are additional factors involved along with the release of the toxin from the bacteria that causes it.

The Clostridium Difficile bacteria is usually present in a persons intestine; however, it might overgrow when someone takes antibiotics. The bacteria releases a powerful toxin which then causes the symptoms the person experiences. The lining of their colon bleeds and becomes inflamed, taking on a characteristic appearance referred to as, 'pseudomembranes.'

Antibiotics such as clindamycin, cephalosporins, and ampicillin are antibiotics that are commonly associated with this disease when it is found in children. Pseudomembranous colitis is rare in infants who are under the age of twelve months because they have received protective antibodies from their mother; the toxins also do not cause this disease in most infants.

The majority of persons who experience pseudomembranous colitis get the disease when they are in the hospital because the bacteria may spread from one person to another. The risk factors for this disease include:

Symptoms

The symptoms of pseudomembranous colitis can start while the person is going through antibiotic therapy, or may begin shortly after the therapy has ceased. The symptoms the person may experience include diarrhea that is both voluminous and water. The majority of persons experience abdominal cramps and tenderness.

Fortunately, the disease can be relatively mild, and resolve after the person stops antibiotic therapy. At times the disease can also be severe though, causing the person to produce large amounts of diarrhea for a period of up to eight weeks. For persons who experience severe symptoms, electrolyte disturbances and dehydration are common. The symptoms of pseudomembranous colitis can include:

Diagnosis of pseudomembranous colitis involves a colonoscopy, a sigmoidoscopy, or an immunoassay for C Difficile toxin. The results of these tests gives a doctor the information needed in order to make a diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment for pseudomembranous colitis involves stopping the antibiotic or other medication that is causing it. Medications such as Vancomycin, Rifaximin, or Metranidazole are commonly used to treat this disorder. Intravenous electrolyte solutions or fluids may be administered in order to treat dehydration caused by diarrhea. In rare circumstances, surgery may be required to treat infections which worsen, or do not respond to antibiotics. If the person affected does not experience any complications the outlook is usually good. Approximately twenty-percent of persons with the infection experience a recurrence that needs additional treatment. Complications that can occur include:

Similar Topics

1 - Undetected Raccoon Roundworm Parasite Infections - University of California - Santa Barbara.
2 - Association Between Gut Microbes and Brain Structure in People With IBS - University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences.
3 - Human Intestinal Worms - Deworming and General Information - Disabled World.
4 - Overview of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) - Disabled World.
5 - Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): Symptoms, Causes & Forms - Thomas C. Weiss.
From our Digestive System Disorders section - Full List (42 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.



1 - Asthma Costs US Economy Over $80 Billion a Year
2 - Synthesized Nanoparticle-Antioxidants to Treat SCI and Stroke
3 - Study Reveals Pancreatic Cancer Accelerated by Stress
4 - Micah Fowler of ABCs Speechless to be Honored at Art of Care Gala
5 - Sensory Interneurons from Stem Cells Enable the Sense of Touch



Citation


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.