The answer is Clostridium difficile. This is an intestinal superbug that can cause symptoms ranging from mild diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the intestine. This bug is linked to 14 thousand deaths in the United States each year.

A new report has found that Clostridium difficile infections have nearly doubled in United States hospitals between 2001 and 2010. The figures showed that most patients were female (59 percent), white (86 percent), and over 65 years of age (70 percent).

What causes these infections? Antibiotics are the biggest risk factor. According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to half of all antibiotic use is unnecessary. Based on this fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a reduction in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics by 30 percent could reduce Clostridium difficile infections by 26 percent.

Keeping your gut healthy is another way of reducing your risk. Taking a good probiotic, eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and minimizing your intake of sugar all go a long way towards improving intestinal health.

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