We Know: All About Diverticulitis

What is diverticulitis?

Tiny bulging pouches in the digestive tract, otherwise known as diverticula, often form in people over the age of 60. This is known as diverticulosis. This condition can begin in several places in the body, including the small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and esophagus. Many people never realize they have the problem unless one of the pouches becomes infected or inflamed. This may result in nausea, bowel problems, abdominal pain, or fever. A change in diet, antibiotics, and rest can deal effectively with mild cases of diverticulitis. If the colon is severely affected, portions of it may have to be removed in the most severe of cases. Diets that include a high dietary intake of fiber can usually eliminate the risk of diverticulitis for those who have diverticulosis.

What are the symptoms of diverticulitis?

Symptoms of diverticulitis are similar to appendicitis, but the pain region will be in the lower left side of the abdomen. The degree of pain can be quite high and appear without warning. It may also occur less severely and worsen over time as well as vary in degree. Associated symptoms are diarrhea, constipation, abdominal tenderness, nausea, and fever. Other symptoms include:

  • Bloating.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal tenderness.
  • Pain or difficulty associated with urinating.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Rectal bleeding.

What are the causes of diverticulitis?

The following are common causes:

  1. When weak areas of the colon give way under pressure, diverticula can form. The pouches often form because of consistent straining during bowel movements.
  2. Infection can develop if stool lodges in one of the pouches. Infected pouches can lead to cuts or tears which can then cause abdominal infection. Abscesses can also develop.

How is diverticulitis treated?

A physician may recommend any one or combination of the following:

  1. Mild symptoms can be treated with antibiotics and a low-fiber diet or liquid.
  2. Rest and the temporary avoidance of any high-fiber food to give the colon time to heal.
  3. Hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics in serious cases.
  4. Surgery for removal of diseased sections of the colon in severe cases.

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