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Pseudomembranous Entercolitis: Facts and Treatment

Published: 2009-06-26 - Updated: 2018-03-16
Author: Thomas C. Weiss | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Digestive Disorders Publications

Synopsis: Pseudomembranous Colitis involves an infection of the persons large intestine with an overgrowth of the Clostridium Difficile Bacteria.

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.

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Main Digest

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.

Related Publications:

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:

Author Credentials:

Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.

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Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2009, June 26). Pseudomembranous Entercolitis: Facts and Treatment. Disabled World. Retrieved January 27, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/health/digestive/psuedomembranous-entercolitis.php

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