Clostridium difficile - Symptoms 

Symptoms of Clostridium difficile infection 

The symptoms of a clostridium difficile infection (CDI) 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 CDI are:

  • regular bouts of usually foul-smelling, watery diarrhoea; which can sometimes be blood stained; most people have around 3-5 bouts of diarrhoea a day
  • abdominal cramping and pain

In more severe cases of CDI your colon (large bowel) can become inflamed, which is known as colitis.

Symptoms of colitis include:

  • more frequent bouts of diarrhoea; between 10-15 a day
  • a high temperature (fever) of or above 38C (100.4F)
  • more severe abdominal cramping
  • dehydration (not having enough fluid in your body)
  • 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 CDI.

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: 14/03/2012

Next review due: 14/03/2014

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