Nasty Bacteria Invades Hospitals and Communities
C. diff. is a tremendously uncomfortable and potentially deadly infection that’s a scourge in many hospitals. In fact, C. diff. bacteria are found on surfaces in nearly every hospital and nursing home. It’s one of the top reasons to stay out of emergency rooms unless you’re facing a life-threatening injury or condition (like a stroke or heart attack).
But nowadays, staying away from hospitals may not be enough to protect you. In recent years, more people are contracting C. diff. in a variety of places outside of hospitals and care facilities. For example, between 2004 and 2009, C. diff. cases among children went up more than a thousand percent. Three quarters of those cases were contracted outside of a hospital. And in recent years, C. diff related deaths have also climbed, increasing by 230 percent. This is due in part to mutations in the bacteria’s potency.
In the past decade, C. diff. has gone from a mild bacterial infection to one that often requires hospitalization. The reason is the amount of toxins produced by new mutant strains. The newest strain of C. diff., which has quickly become the dominant strain, releases 20 times more toxins into your body than non-mutated strains.
Beware Assisted Living Centers
when You Visit Loved Ones
Typically elderly people and people taking antibiotics are at the highest risk of developing a C. diff. infection. Antibiotics kill off bacteria – both good and bad – living in your gut. When antibiotics kill the good bacteria, it devastates your body’s defenses against harmful bacteria like C. diff. During a C. diff. infection, you’ll experience persistent diarrhea that can lead to dehydration and other complications. To make matters worse, in recent years, hospitals are seeing more and more C. diff. infections that are resistant to antibiotics.
The typical treatment for C. diff, a drug called Flagyl, is only successful in 76 percent of cases. Doctors have another recourse, an antibiotic called vancomycin, but they’re reluctant to use it because it’s the only effective option for treating a number of other very bad infections – when those infections start becoming resistant, it will be a big problem. So doctors want to hold off on prescribing vancomycin for anything unless they have no other options left. The best thing you can do is avoid C. diff. infections altogether!
Three Ways to Prevent C. diff Infections
C. diff. is everywhere. Three percent of the population carries it without realizing. And the bacteria can live for months on dry surfaces. Normally, the good bacteria in your gut protect you from C. diff., but if the balance of bacteria in your digestive system is disturbed, you could be in for trouble.
The most important step to take toward preventing C. diff. infections is to avoid taking antibiotics unless you need them.
That means avoiding antibiotics when you’re sick with a cold or the flu. If you do have an illness or infection that requires antibiotics, talk to your doctor about using targeted antibiotics rather than broad-spectrum options.
Next, take steps to feed the good bacteria in your gut.
Plain yogurt with active cultures is a good, low-sugar way to do that. You can mix in fruit and a little honey or stevia to make the yogurt more enjoyable. Or you can take a probiotic supplement; just ask at your favorite pharmacy or nutrition supplement retailer. Supporting the good bacteria in your gut is always important, but it is especially critical when you’re taking an antibiotic.
Whenever your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, make sure you also take a probiotic to replace the good bacteria that will die off as a result of the treatment.
A Safer, Smarter, Cheaper Way
to Protect Yourself from Deadly Germs
Finally, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water; dish soap like Dawn is considered especially effective. Those alcohol-based hand sanitizers may sound nice, but they don’t get rid of C. diff. In the case of this nasty type of bacteria, all they do is give you a false sense of security.
You should also avoid places where you’re most likely to become infected with C. diff. The hospital emergency room is the number one place to avoid. Community swimming pools can also be a source of exposure. If you want to go for a swim, make sure you choose a pool that has a good track record – one with no C. diff. outbreaks. That means they’re careful to treat the water properly, which helps prevent the spread of infections like C. diff.
C. diff. is a serious infection. It can take months to fully recover from it. It can require hospitalization and may even cause death. Take precautions to protect yourself and your family from this miserable and dangerous disease.