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Definition of Colitis, pseudomembranous

Colitis, pseudomembranous: Severe inflammation of the inner lining of the colon due usually to the Clostridium difficult (C. difficile) bacterium, one of the most common causes of infection of the large bowel (colon) in the United States, affecting millions of patients yearly. Patients taking antibiotics are at risk of becoming infected with C. difficile. Antibiotics disrupt the natural bacteria of the bowel, allowing C. difficile bacteria to become established in the colon. Many persons infected with C. difficile bacteria have no symptoms. These people become carriers of the bacteria and can infect others. In some people, a toxin produced by C. difficile causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, severe inflammation of the colon (colitis), fever, an elevated white blood count, vomiting and dehydration. Rarely, the colon becomes dilated (megacolon) or the walls of the colon wear away and holes develop (colon perforation), which can lead to a life-threatening infection of the abdomen.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2783
Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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