What is diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is a common condition in which abnormal pouches (diverticula) in the wall of the colon become inflamed, leading to episodes of cramping, lower abdominal pain, and constipation, or constipation alternating with diarrhea. Diverticulitis is believed to be a disease of lifestyle, because it is not often seen in people who eat healthy diets, who avoid
coffee and cigarettes, who exercise, and who know how to prevent stress from deranging their digestive systems.
Inflammation of the diverticula (small outpouchings) along the wall of the colon, the large intestine. (One outpouching is a diverticulum; two or more are diverticula). For diverticulitis to occur, there must be diverticulosis, the presence of diverticula. Diverticulosis can occur anywhere in the colon but it is most typical in the sigmoid colon, the S-shaped segment of the colon the left lower part of the abdomen. (Sides are from the patient's perspective so the left lower part of your abdomen is nearest your left hand).
The incidence of diverticulosis increases with age. Age causes a weakening of the walls of the colon and this weakening permits the formation of diverticula. By age 80, most people have diverticulosis. A key factor promoting the formation of diverticulosis is elevated pressure within the colon. The pressure within the colon is raised when a person is constipated and has to push down to pass small, hard bits of stool ("rabbit droppings"). Most patients with diverticulosis have few or no symptoms although some have mild symptoms including abdominal cramping and bloating.
Diverticulosis sets the stage for inflammation and infection of the outpouching, that is for diverticulitis. (The "-itis" refers to inflammation.) It is potentially serious and can result in pain in the left lower abdomen, fever, nausea, vomiting, constipation and, paradoxically, diarrhea and frequent urination. Even graver consequences such as perforation of the colon and peritonitis are well known from diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis can be diagnosed with barium x-rays of the colon or with sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Treatment of diverticulitis is designed to combat the inflammation and infection.
Simple remedies for uncomplicated cases of diverticulitis begin with high-fiber diets. Add extra fiber in the form of wheat bran or psyllium, being careful to take plenty of water with these bulking agents. Stool softeners may be helpful. Avoid eating raw vegetables until the acute problem subsides; they can be irritating to an inflamed colon. Take aloe vera gel after meals, staying below the dose that causes any laxative effect. Two other excellent herbal remedies are oil of peppermint in enteric-coated capsules; and slippery elm powder mixed with applesauce. Stress reduction is also helpful. If diverticulitis is complicated by infection or if it causes intestinal obstruction, treatment with antibiotics and surgery may be necessary.
The best way to avoid developing diverticulosis in the first place (aside from the impossibility of staying young) is by eating a proper healthy diet With plenty of fiber. A diet high in fiber keeps the bowels moving, keeps the pressure within the colon within normal limits, and slows or stops the formation of diverticula.
More information on diverticular disease
What is diverticular disease? - Diverticular disease is a condition in which small pouches, called diverticula, develop in the wall of the colon, or large intestine.
What causes diverticular disease? - Diverticular disease essentially results from eating a diet with too little fiber. Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest.
What are the symptoms of diverticular disease? - The major symptoms of diverticular disease are abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramps, alteration of bowel habit and occasionally, severe rectal bleeding.
How is diverticular disease diagnosed? - A complete diagnostic work-up for diverticular disease including colonoscopy, and radiological examinations are the basic tools for initial investigation.
What are the complications of diverticular disease? - Complications of diverticulosis include bleeding, infection, perforation, abscess fistula formation, and obstruction.
What is the treatment for diverticular disease? - The only treatment for mild diverticulosis is to increase fiber in the diet. For diverticulitis, antibiotics will be prescribed.
High fiber diet for diverticular diseases - Good sources of fiber for diverticular diseases include whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and a dietary supplement of fiber products.
What is diverticulitis? - Diverticulitis is a common condition in which abnormal pouches (diverticula) in the wall of the colon become inflamed.
What are the complications of diverticulitis? - Complications of diverticulitis may include a blockage in colon, an abscess or a fistula. Peritonitis is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.
What causes diverticulitis? - Diverticulitis can only occur in people who have diverticulosis. Diverticulosis is more common in people who have a low intake of fiber in their diets.
What're the symtoms of diverticulitis? - Symptoms of diverticulitis are due to the muscle abnormality and consist of pain, often abdominal distension, an irregular bowel habit with pellet-like stools.
How is diverticulitis diagnosed? - Diverticulitis is suspected after a history and physical examination. Diverticulitis is usually diagnosed during an acute attack.
What are the treatments for diverticulitis? - Treatment of diverticulitis depends on the severity of symptoms and whether this is a first attack of diverticulitis.
What's the diverticulitis surgery? - Emergency surgery is necessary for people whose intestine has ruptured; intestinal rupture always results in infection of the abdominal cavity.
What is diverticulosis? - Diverticulosis is a condition in which small outpouchings of the colon wall develop through time. Diverticula may develop anywhere in the large intestine.
What causes diverticulosis? - A low fibre diet can lead to small, hard stools which are difficult to pass. The pouches that develop are called diverticula.
What are the symptoms of diverticulosis? - Diverticulosis do not have any signs or symptoms. Diverticulosis can sometimes cause unexplained painful cramps, diarrhea or other bowel movement disturbances.
What are the complications of diverticulosis? - Diverticulitis can lead to complications such as infections, perforations or tears, blockages, or bleeding.
How is diverticulosis diagnosed? - Diverticulosis is suspected when symptoms such as unexplained painful cramps, diarrhea or other bowel movement disturbances, or rectal bleeding are present.
What is the treatment for diverticulosis? - The goal of treatment for diverticulosis is usually to reduce intestinal spasms, which is best achieved by maintaining a high-fiber diet (which consists of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains) and drinking plenty of fluids.