The Wall Street Journal headline of Sep 16 2008, read, “Rising Foe Defies Hospitals’ War on ‘Superbugs'”. I dove right in because I’m interested in anything sensational – especially in the health field. This article promised a look at Super Bugs.
In just the past couple of weeks, I was hit with the statistics that approximately 1.7 million people in the United States are harmed by their health care workers. Some were “dropped” and some were abused, but a significant number suffered from what is officially called, “idiopathic infections”. These are infections that people aren’t sure where they came from – USUALLY in hospitals – but the evidence strongly suggests that hospital workers, including nurses and doctors, don’t always wash their hands properly. The frightening aspect of that report is that 90,000 of those infected people die from their infection – that’s about 245 people per day.
This latest article is reporting on Clostridium difficile — C. diff for short. This little critter cannot accurately be labeled a SUPER BUG, because it is normally present in the gut of every human walking the planet. It doesn’t bother most of us because we have the bacteria population in our gut balanced. The good bacteria keep the bad ones under control. This is not to suggest that C. diff isn’t something to worry about. When it grows out of control, it can kill you, and it isn’t pretty.
The WSJ article lists suggestions for reducing the spread of C diff – including (of all things) better cleaning procedures. While that is vitally important in health care facilities, it isn’t the overriding cause of C diff outbreaks. Those are caused by imbalances, which are the result of consuming substances that kill our good bacteria. Every time we take an antibiotic – for whatever reason – it kills some of our good bacteria. The antibiotic doesn’t know good bacteria from the bad – it just acts to kill whatever flora or fauna that get’s in its way. C diff is referred to as an opportunistic pathogen – meaning that given the opportunity it will multiply and become a pathogen (infectious agent, or more commonly germ, is a biological agent that causes disease or illness).
The article describes numerous ways that hospital workers can prevent or reduce the prevalence of C diff infections – including meticulous cleaning, the wearing of gowns, and isolation of infected patients in private rooms. Prevention is actually quite easy – before you are thrown into a hospital (one of the nastiest places on earth). Avoid using antibiotics whenever possible. If you must take one of these drugs, be sure to replenish the good bacteria that your prescription drug is killing.
For years, we recommended eating a cup of plain yogurt shortly after taking each dose. Make sure it’s PLAIN – the ones with fruit are loaded with sugars. Yogurt is a good beginning – but it can get to be a problem if you are using the antibiotic 4 times a day and/or if you happen to be sensitive to lactose (the stuff in dairy products that many people are intolerant to).
I conclude that the best way to keep the C diff under control is to provide a constant supply of good bacteria – in the form of a quality probiotic capsule.
Some people think that probiotic means acidophilus. Well, acidophilus is one of the many bacteria that populate our gut. That’s why the better approach is to use a combination probiotic. I recommend Florajen® 3 every day. When exposed to antibiotics take the Florajen® 3 about 30 minutes before taking each dose. That gives the good bacteria sufficient time to get down to the place in your gut where they’ll do the most good. Keep using multiple doses per day for a week or two after stopping the antibiotic. The rest of the time – and forever – take one to two capsules every day (with clean water and on an empty stomach).
C diff is not a super bug – it’s everywhere.
The great news is that it can be kept under control by regular use of probiotics.
The real super bugs are referred to as MRSA (methicillin resistant staph aureus). When that one invades, the options are limited. Treatment for a MRSA infection might even allow for an additional outbreak of C diff. That’s about as serious as it gets. Therefore:
- don’t go into the hospital;
- make sure everyone who touches you washes their hands BEFORE touching you;
- and take probiotics every day
If you are unfortunate enough to actually end up with a case of c. diff. infection, you may also want to seriously consider using a special probiotic that contains Sacchromyces Boulardi, a proven potentiator for good bacteria. This action enables a more effective probiotic presence, encouraging a healthy environment for vitamin uptake and immune support – especially helpful when c. diff. strikes. Our product, Ortho Biotic, supplies 2 billion colony forming units in each capsule.