What is Clostridium difficile?

Clostridium difficile (say: “klo-STRID-ee-um dif-uh-SEEL”), or C. diff., is a type of bacteria that lives in many people’s intestines. For these people, C. diff. is part of the normal balance of bacteria living in the intestines. It’s also present in the environment, such as in the soil, water and in animal feces.

Most people never experience any problems with C. diff. But if something throws off the balance in your intestines, C. diff. may begin to grow out of control. The bacteria start to release toxins that attack the lining of the intestines. This is what leads to symptoms of C. diff. infection.

C Diff infection Q & A

Most cases of C. diff infection occur in patients taking antibiotics. The most common symptoms of a C. diff infection include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Belly pain and tenderness