Symptoms of Clostridium difficile infection 

The symptoms of a Clostridium difficile infection usually develop when you are taking, or have just finished taking, an antibiotic.

Occasionally, symptoms may appear up to 10 weeks after you finish taking antibiotics.

The most common symptoms of a mild to moderate C. difficile infection are:

  • regular bouts of usually foul-smelling, watery diarrhoea, which can sometimes be blood-stained (most people have around three to five bouts of diarrhoea a day)
  • abdominal cramping and pain

In more severe cases, your colon (large bowel) can become inflamed – this is known as colitis.

Symptoms of colitis include:

  • more frequent bouts of diarrhoea (between 10 and 15 a day)
  • a high temperature (fever) of above 38ºC (100.4ºF)
  • more severe abdominal cramping
  • dehydration
  • feeling sick
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

When to seek medical advice

Diarrhoea can be a common side effect of antibiotics, so having diarrhoea while taking antibiotics does not necessarily mean you have a C. difficile infection.

If the diarrhoea persists after finishing your course of antibiotics, you should contact your GP for advice.

You should also contact your GP if you experience additional symptoms, such as a high temperature or abdominal cramps.

Page last reviewed: 22/04/2014

Next review due: 22/04/2016