Clostridium Difficile Colitis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Lower digestive system

Clostridium difficile is a type of bacteria that can infect the large intestine, or colon. This can cause the colon to swell and get inflamed. When this happens, it's called Clostridium difficile colitis. It's also called C. difficile colitis.

This type of colitis can cause diarrhea and belly cramps. It can also cause a fever.

The infection is most common in people who are taking antibiotics while in the hospital.

If this type of colitis gets serious, it can cause the colon to get much bigger than normal. This is called toxic megacolon. It's an emergency that needs to be treated right away. Signs of this problem include a swollen belly that hurts. They also include a fast heartbeat and a fever.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • The doctor will give your child antibiotics to treat the colitis. But it will be a different kind than the kind that caused the colitis. Give the antibiotics as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • To prevent dehydration, give your child plenty of fluids, enough so that your child's urine is light yellow or clear like water. Choose water and other caffeine-free clear liquids until your child feels better.
  • Give your child small amounts of mild foods, if he or she wants to eat. Try yogurt that has lactobacillus. You can check the label for this.
    • Do not give your child spicy foods, fruits, and caffeine until 48 hours after he or she is better.
    • Do not give your child chewing gum that has sorbitol.
  • To prevent the spread of C. difficile, practice good hygiene. Help your child keep his or her hands clean by washing them well and often with soap and clean, running water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill C. difficile.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a new or higher fever or chills.
  • Your child feels light-headed or has a fast heart rate.
  • Your child's stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.
  • Your child has signs of needing more fluids. These signs include sunken eyes with few tears, a dry mouth with little or no spit, and little or no urine for 6 hours.
  • Your child has new belly pain or the pain is worse.
  • Your child has severe diarrhea. (This means large, loose bowel movements every 1 to 2 hours.)
  • Your child has severe vomiting and can't keep down liquids.
  • Your child is not passing any stools or gas.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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