By the time your doctor detects pseudomembranous colitis, you may already be seriously ill. If the condition isn't successfully treated when diagnosed, a number of complications can develop, including:
- Abnormally low levels of potassium in your blood (hypokalemia), due to the loss of potassium during excessive diarrhea
- Dehydration leading to abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension), related to significant loss of fluids and electrolytes due to diarrhea
- Recurrence of pseudomembranous colitis, days or even weeks after initial treatment
- Kidney failure, due to severe dehydration resulting from diarrhea
- A hole in your bowel (perforated colon), which can lead to an infection of your abdominal cavity
- Toxic megacolon, a rare but serious swelling of the colon, leaving it incapable of expelling gas and stool, which could cause your colon to rupture
Most people respond well to treatment. But pseudomembranous colitis can be fatal without effective treatment.
Dec. 05, 2012
- 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 Oct. 21, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..00002-9&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&about=true&uniqId=343863096-23. Accessed Oct. 21, 2012.
- Kelly CP. Current strategies for management of initial Clostridium difficile infection. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2012;7:S5.
- Ananthakrishnan AN. Clostridium difficile infection: Epidemiology, risk factors and management. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2011;8:17.
- Johnson S. Meeting the challenge of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2012;7:S11.
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Oct. 21, 2012.
- Gallegos-Orozco JF, et al. Successful colonoscopic fecal transplant for severe acute Clostridium difficile pseudomembranous colitis. Revista de gastroenterología de México. 2012;77:40.
- Diarrhea. ADA Nutrition Care Manual. http://nutritioncaremanual.org/vault/editor/Docs/DiarrheaNutritionTherapy_FINAL.pdf. Accessed Oct.21, 2012.