Pseudomembranous colitis

Pseudomembranous colitis is inflammation of the colon that occurs in some people who have taken antibiotics. Pseudomembranous colitis is sometimes called antibiotic-associated colitis or C. difficile colitis. The inflammation in pseudomembranous colitis is almost always associated with an overgrowth of the bacterium Clostridium difficile.

Severe pseudomembranous colitis can be life-threatening. However, treatment is usually successful.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Signs and symptoms of pseudomembranous colitis include:

  • Diarrhea that can be watery and sometimes bloody
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Fever
  • Pus or mucus in your stool
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration

Symptoms of pseudomembranous colitis can begin within one to two days after you begin taking an antibiotic, or several weeks after you discontinue taking the antibiotic.

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor if you're taking or have recently taken antibiotics and you develop any of the signs or symptoms associated with pseudomembranous colitis, including constant diarrhea, abdominal pain, and blood or pus in your stool.

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