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Clostridium Difficile

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    Clostridium Difficile

             Have you ever wondered why people are afflicted with diseases? Some believe that the affliction of diseases is a punishment from the gods for unruly behavior. Others, on the other hand, believe that playful spirits are the reason for such affliction. These are some of the beliefs that people have towards the supernatural occurrences that happen around them.

    Medically, diseases are usually caused by an organism, such as a virus or bacteria. These, in turn, contribute to the alterations caused in the body. The human body then weakens, causing much discomfort to the patient. An example of such is the Clostridium difficile.

             Clostridium difficile is the microorganism known as the main cause of infections associated with the colon. This group is known as anaerobic bacteria, for they may survive and reproduce even in the absence of oxygen (Medicine Net, 2001). These bacteria are said to be gram positive, and are normally found in the tracts of the intestines. They are also spore-forming, and can be easily detected through the symptoms they exhibit (Replydine, 2007).

                Colitis is the disease that is mostly identified with Clostridium difficile. This is an outcome from the disruption of the normal number of bacteria that inhabit the colon. For this, certain toxins are released, resulting to the possible damage and inflammation if the mucosa. Two distinct toxins are produced by Clostridium difficile. These are known as the enterotoxin and the cytotoxin, also known as Toxin A and Toxin B, respectively. These strains are characterized for their binding capabilities to specific receptors found in the mucosal cells in the intestine. They are considered to be of great importance especially in the care of colitis (Gronczewski, August 10, 2006).

    The acquisition of such bacteria is relatively easy. The bacteria may choose to infect children, or even adults. But there are still some that are prone to the said disease. Those who take antibiotics are considered to be the most prone for the infection of the disease. People who are also in their 60’s and older should be well cared for. This is due to the fact that they are enduring more health problems than people younger than they are have in their lifetime. The weakness they may feel would lead to the administration of several doses of antibiotics. These antibiotics, in turn, would help facilitate in the growth of the said bacteria that would eventually lead to the discomforts felt by patients. Other factors include having a weakened immune system, exposure to infections in hospitals, surgeries performed in the abdomen, and living in a convalescent home (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2006).

             Although these factors may seem simple for some, there are still some of that should be given much importance. People who suffer from colon cancer and those who have colon diseases are very much prone to the infection. Unaware to many, this may be attributed to the fact that these patients are exposed to the different antibiotics that may contribute to the presence of such bacteria. In addition to this, the administration of antacids to patients is also a contributing factor. The decrease in acidity of the stomach due to the medication would make it easier for the bacteria, Clostridium difficile, to penetrate the intestines of the patient (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2006).

             Symptoms associated with the infection of Clostridium difficile infections include fever, nausea, appetite loss, malaise, and pain (Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 22, 2005). Since the infection is found in the colon, the patient would experience severe pain in the abdomen that would eventually cause more discomfort. Also, continuous watery stool would lead to further damage to the system of the patient. The unstoppable release of bodily waste would eventually lead to dehydration. This is such a heartbreaking reality.

    According to the research conducted by the Agency for Health Research and Quality, Clostridium difficile is the bacteria mostly associated with poisoning of the blood and severe diarrhea. The study also showed that from 1993 to 2005, there was an estimated 2 million patients from different hospitals in the United States that have been inflicted with the said bacteria. In 2005, the results were updated, showing that majority of the patients inflicted were now elderly patients. In addition to this, it was also mentioned that these patients would spend more time in the hospital than the uninfected ones (2008).

     Since Clostridium difficile infections are caused by bacteria, it is evident that the treatments used for such are antibiotics. The first line of antibiotics given to patients is Metronidazole (Flagyl). In the infectivity of the said medication, Vancomycin (Vancocin) is given. Unlike Metronidazole, this medication is highly expensive. Upon administration of the antibiotics, spores are produced. These spores can actually exist even in the presence of oxygen for about two years. Eventually, in the administration of new antibiotics, the spores are awakened, and the bacteria is scattered once more. The antibiotics definitely help in the slowing down of the infection, but it does not totally remove the bacteria in the body of the individual. Continuous medication should be given to patients to ensure their safety (Clostridium Difficile Foundation, 2002).

    The diagnosis of the said infection is often done through analysis in the laboratory. The doctor asks for the patient’s medical history, after which asks as to whether they have taken any antibiotics. When the patient acknowledges that antibiotics are taken, certain tests are conducted to detect the presence of the bacteria. For starters, a stool test is conducted on the patient. This test is conducted using an immunoenzymatic assay that eventually helps in the detection for the presence of the said bacteria in the body. Second test conducted is the examination of the colon. The said examination gives a clear vision of the abnormalities that may occur in the colon. This in turn actually helps doctors diagnose the presence of the disease in the body. Imaging, on the other hand, shows images of the colon that are detailed enough to be used in the diagnosis (Mayo Clinic Staff, December 13, 2006).

             The Clostridium difficile bacteria, as mentioned earlier, may be passed on from one individual to the other. Living in a polluted environment, and practicing an unhealthy lifestyle would help promote the spread of the disease. In so doing, people could do their part in living healthier lives away from such infections and the diseases that may be bring. For those who work in laboratories, it is always best to wear the proper attire. Face masks, lab gowns, and disposable gloves are essential, and should be worn at all times (Gronczewski, August 10, 2006). In addition to this, it is always important to wash the hands properly with water and soap, so that the bacteria may be washed out, avoiding the introduction to the body.

             Regardless of how clean the environment is people should still be cautious of the actions that they make towards people and their environment. Having too much fun would eventually lead to the destruction of one’s health. This disease is one of those traitors, for it could hit anyone without being noticed. The signs and symptoms that have been attributed with the disease are similar to those of the regular diarrhea, but more dangerous.

             For people who are actually carefree with their lives, ample time and attention should be given to the prevention of such diseases. Regardless of age, race, and ethnicity, people should start working together to make the world a better place.

    References

    Sanger Institute. (2007, March 27). Clostridium Difficile. Retrieved July 18,      2008 from http://www.sanger.ac.uk/Projects/C_difficile/

    Lee, D. (2008). Clostridium Difficile. Retrieved July 18, 2008 from          http://www.medicinenet.com/clostridium_difficile_colitis/article.htm

    Mayo Clinic Staff. (2006, December 13). Infectious Disease: C. difficle.   Retrieved July 18, 2008 from

             http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/c-difficile/DS00736

    (2001). Definition of clostridium. Retrieved July 18, 2008 from          http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6539

    Gronczewski, C. A. (2006). Clostridium difficile colitis. Retrieved July 18,        2008 from http://www.emedicine.com/MED/topic3412.htm

    Clostridium Difficile Foundation. (2002). C. Difficile colitis. Retrieved July 18,          2008 from http://www.cdiffsupport.com/aboutcdiff.html

    Lab Tests Online. (2007, December 8). Clostridium difficile toxin. Retrieved      July 18, 2008 from

             http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/cdiff/test.html

    Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Disease Control and      Prevention. (2005, July 22). Retrieved July 18, 2005 from          http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/id_CdiffFAQ_general.html

    Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2008, April 23). Potentially         deadly infection doubles among hospital patients over the last 5 years.      Retrieved July 18, 2008 from http://www.ahrq.gov/news/nn/nn042308.htm

    (2007). Scientific overview. Retrieved July 19, 2008 from   http://www.replidyne.com/content/index.cfm?fuseaction=showContent&contentID=54&navID=54

     

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