ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The most severe form of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, pseudomembranous colitis, can lead to life-threatening complications, including:
- Dehydration. Severe diarrhea can lead to excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes — essential substances such as sodium and potassium. Extreme fluid loss can cause serious complications. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include a very dry mouth, intense thirst, little or no urination, and extreme weakness.
- A hole in your bowel (bowel perforation). Extensive damage to the lining of your large intestine can lead to a perforation in the wall of your intestine.
- Toxic megacolon. In this condition, your colon becomes unable to expel gas and stool, causing it to become greatly distended (megacolon). Signs and symptoms of toxic megacolon include abdominal pain and swelling, fever, and weakness. Toxic megacolon is a serious complication that can lead to infection or a ruptured colon. Toxic megacolon requires aggressive treatment, usually with medications.
- Kelly CP, et al. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea, pseudomembranous enterocolitis and Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea and colitis. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2006. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/189880460-5/0/1389/0.html. Accessed March 19, 2010.
- Ferri FF. Pseudomembranous colitis. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2010. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/189880460-5/0/2088/0.html. Accessed March 19, 2010.
- Thielman NM, et al. Antibiotic-associated colitis. In: Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/book/player/book.do?method=display&type=aboutPage&decorator=header&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniq=190074036#lpState=open&lpTab=contentsTab&content=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP%3Bfrom%3Dcontent%3Bisbn%3D978-0-443-06839-3%3Btype%3DbookHome. Accessed March 19, 2010.
- O'Mahony S, et al. Enteric bacterial flora and bacterial overgrowth. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2006. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/189880460-5/0/1389/0.html. Accessed March 26, 2010.
- Diarrhea. National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea/index.htm. Accessed March 25, 2010.
- Peterson MA. Disorders of the large intestine. In: Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/book/player/book.do?method=display&type=aboutPage&decorator=header&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&uniq=191219029#lpState=open&lpTab=contentsTab&content=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP%3Bfrom%3Dcontent%3Bisbn%3D978-0-323-05472-0%3Btype%3DbookHome. Accessed March 25, 2010.
- Diarrhea. ADA Nutrition Care Manual. http://nutritioncaremanual.org/topic.cfm?ncm_heading=Nutrition%20Care&ncm_toc_id=19099. Accessed March 26, 2010.
- Parkes GC, et al. The mechanisms and efficacy of probiotics in the prevention of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2009;9:237.