How many would agree to a fecal enema?

John Dillinger, the notorious bank robber, was once asked why he robbed banks. He replied, “That’s where the money is.” Today, if you asked infectious disease experts where Clostridium difficile resides, they would reply, “It’s in hospitals. It’s dangerous and can be lethal.”

Other experts might warn that many C difficile infections could be avoided if North Americans would stop looking for pills to treat every human complaint.

Rather than seeking pills they should be following a healthy dietary lifestyle. In fact, getting smart could even save 40 bowel movements a day, and, at times, a life.

We have millions of bacteria living in our large bowels, usually not making war with one another. Studies show that about 3% of adults and 70% of healthy infants have C difficile in their intestines.

But when antibiotics are prescribed to treat pneumonia, ear infections, bladder or sinus infections, they often upset the balance of power between bacteria. This allows C difficile to increase and produce a toxin that causes diarrhea. The same result would happen if hunters killed all the wolves and allowed the deer to multiply. It’s always dangerous to fool around with the balance of nature.

C difficile has become a major problem for hospitals. Today, there’s increased likelihood of developing this infection in hospital if you are elderly, have a suppressed immune system or are being treated for a malignancy.

Several studies also show a link in patients who are taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Nexium, Losec, Prevacid, Pantoloc, Pariet and Tecta. These drugs are best used to treat patients suffering from recurrent acid reflux disorders.

But Dr. Lauren B. Gerson, a gastroenterologist at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, says that PPIs are often the first thing doctors give patients for heartburn. That’s like shooting a mouse with an elephant gun. Patients suffering from run-of-the-mill infrequent heartburn don’t need PPIs. Rather, they should first try over-the-counter remedies such as Rolaids, Tums, Mylanta and Maalox. If these antacids fail, drugs such as Pepcid AC or Zantac 75 are available that have fewer side-effects and are also less expensive.

Because of the use of the elephant gun to treat heartburn, along with the general overuse of antibiotics, C difficile is no longer a rare problem.

A report in the Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology claims that 15-20% of patients receiving antibiotics develop antibiotic diarrhea.

Another report from the Mayo Clinic says that every year three million North Americans develop C. difficile infections.

The diagnosis of C. difficile is made by examining a stool sample to detect its presence or its toxin.

Treatment in most cases is to discontinue the offending antibiotic. This allows normal bacteria in the bowel to recover and is successful in about 25% of cases. Or other antibiotics may be needed in an attempt to kill C. difficile. But in spite of treatment about 10 to 20% of patients have recurring bouts of disabling pain, diarrhea and skin irritation. And during an epidemic of this infection in Quebec, 700 people died.

So what do you do if all treatment fails and C difficile results in up to 40 bowel movements daily? As a last resort some doctors have resorted to the ‘fecal transplant’ or more to the point, the fecal enema. This approach is not without controversy. As you might expect, some physicians have poo-pooed the idea! Or have facetiously asked their colleagues how much they have to pay for the poo.

But if you are seriously ill, and may die from the infection, it’s no laughing matter. Fecal donors are usually parents, spouses, siblings or relatives and the stools are tested to rule out hepatitis infection, HIV and screened for parasites and C difficile.

The first fecal enema was given by a Dr Thomas Louie, head of infectious disease at Foothills Hospital in Calgary in 1996. Since that time the procedure has been carried out in other countries. Some authorities claim a success rate of 89%.

It appears that critics may have to stop poo-pooing the idea.

See the web site www.docgiff.com. For comments email info@docgiff.com.

Just Posted

Yellow Vests protestors take to Red Deer streets

Trudeau government’s immigration and oil industry policies denounced at rally

Rebels lose to Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1

Tigers break Rebels’ three-game winning streak

Red Deer’s newest outdoor ice facility opens to the public next week

The speed skating oval at Setters Place at Great Chief Park will be open Dec. 17th

Exhibition explores the rich history and culture of Métis people

The exhibition is on display from Dec. 15th to March 10th at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery

2019 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championship host sites announced

A total of 39 Provincial Championships will be hosted across the province

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

‘I practically begged’: B.C. woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Facebook reveals bug gave apps unauthorized access to 6.8 million users’ photos

It’s believed up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers had access to Facebook Stories, private photos

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

New home for Calgary Flames estimated to cost up to $600 million

The city and the Flames are not yet talking on who will pay how much for a building to replace the Saddledome

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Most Read