Pressure exerted on the colon results in the formation of protruding pouches, which when get infected and inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis.
About one in every two adults who have crossed the age limit of 50 are seen to be affected by diverticulitis. This condition affects most people by the age of 90 and is seen to affect men and women equally. Regions of the world like Africa, where the regular diet is high is fiber see very few cases of this disease. However, the Western world is quite vulnerable to this condition due to their poor fiber diet.
What is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is a common digestive disease, found mostly in the large intestine. The large intestine stores and eliminates waste materials. Pressure on the walls of the large intestine or colon causes portions of the colon walls to protrude out and form pouches called diverticula. The formation of these pouches on the walls of the colon is called diverticulosis.
Usually, people do not experience any symptoms that indicate the presence of diverticula in their intestines. However, some people do experience different symptoms and when the symptoms accompany diverticula formation, the condition is called diverticular disease. Often stool and bacteria get caught in these pouches and may lead to infection and inflammation of the diverticula. The condition when the pouches become infected is called diverticulitis.
What Causes Diverticulitis
The exact reason or factor that triggers diverticulitis is not known, however, according to popular belief, it is said that a low-fiber diet has a prominent role in causing this condition. Fiber present in fruits and vegetables improve bowel movements, and a lack of fiber in the diet conduces to constipation. Constipation causes muscle strain while passing stool, and the strain in turn spearheads formation of diverticula in the colon.
Symptoms of Diverticular Disease
The symptoms a person experiences when diverticula are formed in the colon, but are not yet infected are as follows:
- Abdominal pain
- Change in bowel habits
- Small amounts of blood in stool
Symptoms of Diverticulitis
When the diverticula get infected and inflamed, the symptoms a person goes through are as follows:
- Frequent and painful urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rectal bleeding
- Feeling generally unwell.
- Pain in the lower left side of your abdomen
Diverticulitis can also result in grave infections, bleeding, perforations, or blockages in the colon, which is why treating it as soon as possible is crucial. In most cases, a high-fiber diet and pain medications help alleviate the pain and symptoms. Oral antibiotics are given to people with mild diverticulitis, along with a liquid diet and plenty of rest. If the condition is serious, then intravenous antibiotics or surgery is required. Moreover, one will have to adopt a high-fiber diet, that will soften the stool and attenuate the pressure inside the colon. Foods like sunflower, pumpkin, popcorn, sesame seeds, etc., should be avoided, because they can enter the diverticula and cause irritation.
The kind of treatment and its duration will depend on how grave your condition is and whether you are suffering from only diverticulosis or diverticulitis.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.