To help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, try to:
June 11, 2013
- Take antibiotics only when necessary. Limit your antibiotic use and don't use antibiotics unless you and your doctor feel they're absolutely necessary. For instance, antibiotics can treat bacterial infections, but they won't help viral infections, such as colds and flu.
- Ask caregivers to wash their hands. If you're hospitalized, ask each person you come in contact with to wash his or her hands before touching you. This may reduce the risk that you'll come in contact with C. difficile, the bacterium that can cause serious antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
- Tell your doctor if you've experienced antibiotic-associated diarrhea in the past. Having antibiotic-associated diarrhea once increases the chance that antibiotics may cause that same reaction again. Your doctor may select an antibiotic that is less likely to cause diarrhea.
Consider probiotics if you've had antibiotic-associated diarrhea in the past. Probiotics are concentrated supplements of beneficial organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, that you take in capsule or liquid form. Some yogurts and other foods also contain probiotics.
Some evidence suggests that taking probiotics during antibiotic treatment may reduce the risk of diarrhea in people who've had antibiotic-associated diarrhea caused by C. difficile in the past. Some studies haven't found probiotics to be useful. Ask your doctor about whether probiotics could help you.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed March 30, 2013.
- Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-4/0/1481/0.html#. Accessed March 30, 2013.
- Diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea/#treated. Accessed March 27, 2013.
- LaMont JT. Clostridium difficile in adults: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/html. Accessed March 25, 2013.
- Ray CG, et al., eds. Sherris Medical Microbiology. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6936101. Accessed April 2, 2013.
- LaMont JT. Clostridium difficile in adults: Epidemiology, microbiology, and pathophysiology. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 25, 2013.
- Rebmann T, et al. Preventing Clostridium difficile infections: An executive summary of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's elimination guide. American Journal of Infection Control. 2011;39:239.
- Surawicz CM, et al. Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Clostridium difficile infections. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. In press. Accessed March 25, 2013.
- Wanke CA. Approach to the adult with acute diarrhea in developed countries. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 2, 2013.
- Hempel S, et al. Probiotics for the Prevention and Treatment of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012;307:1959.
- Rohren CH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 8, 2013.
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