What is Diverticulitis?

You might not have heard of the term diverticulitis before but it is quite common. Most cases do not show any symptoms and do not cause the person any harm, but there is still a risk of infection. Diverticulitis can be the culprit in your recent abdominal cramps or that one incident where you had blood in your stool.

Causes and Risks

Diverticulitis is derived from the word diverticula which refer to the pouches in the lining of the digestive system. These pouches form because of the weakness of the affected area when exposed to pressure. The diverticula are usually found in the colon or the lower part of the large intestine. If you have diverticula, it is called diverticulosis.

Most of these pouches will not cause you any problems, and you will not even notice them. Diverticulitis describes the condition in which the pouches or diverticula are torn and inflamed. This is when you start to have problems especially if the diverticula get an infection.

Most people over the age of 50 years will have diverticula more frequently because aging is a factor. But conditions like obesity also put you at risk. You can also get diverticulosis if you have a high fat diet, if your diet is low in fiber, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, if you are a smoker, and if you take medications like NSAIDs and steroids.

Symptoms and Complications

Some people do not have symptoms, while other who do have them are only mild and will go away after a while. In some cases, however, the symptoms can be severe. Symptoms may include more than one of the following: diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain (either on the right of left), bloating, nausea and vomiting, blood in the stool, bleeding in the rectum, and fever and chills.

There are a few people who will develop complications such as a blockage in the bowels, fistula in the bowels, peritonitis or the infection of the abdominal cavity, and abscess. These are considered emergency situations and must be treated right away.

Treatment and Prevention

The type of treatment needed depends on the severity of the symptoms. Most mild to moderate symptoms can be treated at home starting with changes in the diet. You might need to undergo a clear liquid diet for a few days (avoiding any solid food) until the symptoms lessen.

Your doctor should recommend which food you are allowed to eat for the time being. Medication is given if there is pain and discomfort or infections. Needle drainage of the abscess or surgery will only be required if there is a chance of developing complications. To avoid diverticulitis you need to increase your fiber intake, drink more water, and to exercise at least 30 minutes daily.

Health, Health and Wellness, Medical Care

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