Often, this kind of infection occurs when certain bacteria, typically C. diff, outgrow and dominate other bacteria in the gut.

Sadly, the over-prescribing of antibiotics — think ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and amoxicillin — to patients by doctors for unnecessary reasons, especially in hospitals, has created opportunities for drug-resistant infections to harm greater numbers of Americans and trigger C. diff infections. And, this exposure to antibiotics doesn’t include those contained in the flesh foods we eat either. Colitis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the colon, but that’s as simple a definition as you’ll get for this intestinal condition. Its symptoms include cramping, bloating, diarrhea (sometime bloody) and abdominal pain.

Defining it and naming its common symptoms are the easy parts, however.

Unfortunately, people use colitis as a catchall term to describe a lot of different conditions. Plus, colitis comes in many types, including ulcerative colitis, ischemic colitis, microscopic colitis and chemical colitis.

Interestingly, a common kind of colitis that you may already be pretty familiar with — but call it something else like food poisoning — is infectious colitis.

Infectious colitis can come from having person-to-person contact (usually dirty hands), consuming foods and water contaminated with E Coli, Salmonella or parasites or having indirect contact with common items you may handle that are unclean (think toothbrushes, eating utensils and clothing).

Another form of colitis — pseudeomembraneous colitis — has risen greatly in popularity over the last decade or so, but you’ve likely heard it called by the name of the bacteria, specifically Clostridium difficile or C. diff infections.

Other factors cited by the Mayo Clinic that may make you more vulnerable to pseudomembranous colitis apart from too many antibiotics:

  • Receiving chemotherapy
  • Suffering from colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Living in a nursing home
  • Staying in a hospital

Probiotics to the rescue

The good news about these kinds of infections: Studies have shown how probiotics can dramatically reduce the incidence of diarrhea, among of the key symptoms associated with C. diff infections.

In fact, an extensive 2013 review of 31 studies by the Cochrane Library concluded probiotics significantly reduced the risk of diarrhea associated with C. diff infections by an amazing 64 percent.

So, how do you choose the right probiotic? Cheaper brands of probiotics tend to restrict their blends of beneficial bacteria to one or a few, yet small amounts don’t do much to cultivate the diversity your gut needs to reduce your risk of infections or their symptoms and promote better immune health.

If you’ve been looking for a proven probiotic, consider a product that contains multiple species of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria already living in your gut, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Junior (for kids).