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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI): Overview, Laboratory Tests and Updated Guidelines.. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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CDI: Symptoms and Severity

    The symptoms of CDI may vary with some individuals carrying the C diff bacterium in their intestines but never becoming ill or exhibiting any symptoms. Signs and symptoms of the infection may occur as early as the first few days after being infected or up to several months later. When on a course of antibiotics, signs and symptoms of CDI may develop within 5-10 days after starting the antibiotics.
    The most common symptom of CDI is usually watery diarrhea. In rare cases, the diarrhea may be both watery and bloody, and may be associated with crampy abdominal pain. CDI can occur as either a mild to moderate infection or a severe infection.
    Mild to Moderate CDI: Mild to moderate CDI usually presents with the following symptoms:
    • Watery diarrhea three or more times daily for two more days.
    • Mild abdominal cramping and tenderness.
    Some clinicians may use signs and symptoms in combination with white blood cell counts and creatinine levels to help classify mild to moderate CDI. Clinicians may consider a low-grade fever with leukocytosis (white blood cell count <15,000) and serum creatinine <1.5 mg/dl may indicate a mild to moderate infection.