Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) Infection | Causes & Risk Factors


Who is at risk for developing a C. diff. infection?

If you are in good health, you will probably not get a C. diff. infection. The most common risk factor for C. diff. is the use of antibiotic medicine. Antibiotics can disrupt the normal balance in the intestines.

 Risk factors for C. diff. infection include:

  • Antibiotic use, especially a type of antibiotic that is broad-spectrum (is able to treat a wide variety of bacteria) or if you have been taking antibiotics for an extended period of time
  • Surgery of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
  • Abdominal surgery that requires moving the intestines aside
  • Hospitalization
  • Living in a nursing home or extended-care facility
  • Colon problems, such as inflammatory bowel syndrome or colorectal cancer
  • Weakened immune system
  • Previous C. diff. infection
  • Being 65 years of age or older

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 08/09