Treatment

Treatment strategies include:

  • Stopping the antibiotic or other medication that's thought to be causing your signs and symptoms, if possible. Sometimes, this may be enough to resolve your condition or at least ease signs, such as diarrhea.
  • Starting an antibiotic likely to be effective against C. difficile. If you still experience signs and symptoms, your doctor may use a different antibiotic to treat C. difficile. This allows the normal bacteria to grow back, restoring the healthy balance of bacteria in your colon. You may be given antibiotics by mouth, through a vein or through a tube inserted through the nose into the stomach (nasogastric tube). Depending on your condition, doctors will use most often use metronidazole (Flagyl), vancomycin, fidaxomicin (Dificid) or a combination.
  • Having fecal microbial transplantation (FMT). If your condition is extremely severe, you may be given a transplant of stool (fecal transplant) from a healthy donor to restore the balance of bacteria in your colon. The donor stool may be delivered through a nasogastric tube, inserted into the colon or placed in a capsule you swallow. Often, doctors will use a combination of antibiotic treatment followed by FMT.

Once you begin treatment for pseudomembranous colitis, signs and symptoms may begin to improve within a few days.

Researchers are exploring new treatments for pseudomembranous colitis, including alternative antibiotics and a vaccine.

Treating recurring pseudomembranous colitis

The natural occurrence of new, more-aggressive strains of C. difficile, which are more resistant to antibiotics, has made treating pseudomembranous colitis increasingly difficult and recurrences more common. With each recurrence, your chance of having an additional recurrence increases. Treatment options may include:

  • Repeat antibiotics. You may need a second or third round of antibiotics to resolve your condition.
  • Surgery. Surgery may be an option in people who have progressive organ failure, rupture of the colon and inflammation of the lining of the abdominal wall (peritonitis). Surgery has typically involved removing all or part of the colon (total or subtotal colectomy). A newer surgery that involves laparoscopically creating a loop of colon and cleaning it (diverting loop ileostomy and colonic lavage) is less invasive and has had positive results.
  • Fecal microbial transplantation (FMT). FMT is used to treat recurrent pseudomembranous colitis. You'll receive healthy, cleaned stool in a capsule, nasogastrically or inserted into your colon.