Things to Consider to Avoid This Rarely Discussed Infection During the Holidays
Sponsored by and developed in part with support from Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
As we try to return to a “normal” holiday season this year, public events, corporate parties, and family gatherings are on our Holiday bucket lists! I have already attended my first holiday gathering of the year hosted at my son’s home, and I’ve made sure to fill my calendar with many others throughout the season!
Whether it be a traditional dinner or potluck-style, it is important to plan holiday menus carefully to decrease the risks of various health conditions such as Clostridioides difficile infection (or C. diff for short).
What Is C. diff?
Clostridioides difficile infection (or C. diff for short) is an infection that can cause problems in the gut such as gas or severe diarrhea and in some cases it can even be fatal. While there are nearly half a million cases of C. diff infection that occur every year, the illness is one that is rarely heard about – if at all.
Additionally, it can affect anyone — especially people with weakened or otherwise compromised immune systems. Living with recurrent C. diff infection can not only wreak havoc on your gut health — but it can also totally disrupt your way of daily life.
I know about this all too well. Prior to the pandemic, I discovered that I am highly susceptible to C. diff infection, and my son had the infection. The diagnosis took a tremendous toll on us. Our lives have forever changed. Because of C. diff, it can most definitely be a struggle for us while visiting our family and friends during the Holiday season. Preventing an upset stomach is now a top priority for us.
First, we have to try our best to constantly control our nonverbal communication during gatherings. Our body language and facial expressions must remain discreet yet pleasant while we find foods on the table or dinner menu that we can enjoy that are gut-friendly for us. In addition, our mannerisms must remain consistent while simultaneously dealing with the embarrassment of the onset of C. diff symptoms should they occur.
I must say that honestly while it is “the most wonderful time of the year,” for many, it can oftentimes be a nightmare for us. As a result, being proactive in managing our gut health while being mindful of the foods we indulge in as well as the foods we take to gatherings during holiday season has now become my top priority.
If you or a loved one is currently living with recurrent C. diff infection and are worried about the holidays, please know that you are not alone. You can successfully get through the season of ‘greetings with good cheer’ if you consider the factors below.
These have done wonders for me and my son, and they can help you, too.
For Caregivers of those who have C. diff:
If your loved one wants to ‘sit out the season’ due to fear of a possible onset of symptoms, give them your comfort and support. Let them know that you understand their feelings about symptoms arising but encourage them to not allow their fears to keep them from enjoying the holidays.
Offer to accompany them to any festivities they would like to attend – using the ‘buddy system’ to sort out food options and cleverly cover for any onset of symptoms if needed. And of course, remind them that you are there for them for anything they need – whether it’s grocery shopping for the proper gut-friendly ingredients for preparing a potluck dish, or just simply a listening ear.
People experiencing C. diff may lose their appetite, or (as stated above) fear that food will trigger their symptoms. However, good nutrition is vital to recovery. The body needs to regain strength and rebuild gut health.
Choosing the right foods and ingredients sounds confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the graphic below as a reminder of which foods are good or bad for your gut health.
For Healthcare Providers:
If you have patients who have been diagnosed with C. diff but are not scheduled for an office visit anytime soon, make it a point to reach out to them to remind them of the do’s and don’ts of eating during the holiday season.
Give them a call or send a text or email; or use the patient portal if one is established for your healthcare network. Additionally, extend an offer of availability to them for any of their gut health questions or concerns.
As I know all-too-well, living with C. diff – or even being a caregiver of a loved one with C. diff – is taxing. However, the good news is that there are things that you can do to help minimize the impact of its recurrence and also raise more awareness about this rarely mentioned yet very contagious infection that can become a serious health threat to others in the home where you live and the ones you may visit, and even the communities where you attend holiday events.
In a season filled with many food-focused gatherings, now more than ever is a great time to become more educated and acclimated with all things related to C. diff to not only minimize the onset of symptoms for yourself, but to also avoid spreading the infection to others. Remember to talk to your doctor about what you can eat during and after a C. diff infection and fully utilize trusted and reliable information and resources about C. diff infection to help answer your questions about managing your health while living with C. diff infection this season.
By doing so, you will have done your part to make the holidays ‘merry and bright’ for everyone.
#CdiffAwarenessMonth #Cdiff #FerringMicrobiome #FerringSponsored