Diverticulosis is a condition that affects your colon. It is when your colon forms pouches. People who have diverticulosis may not show any signs or symptoms. Diverticulosis turns into diverticulitis when these pouches that form in the colon become inflamed or infected. This can be very painful.
Doctors are not sure of what causes diverticulitis but they do feel like some things can factor into causing it. Some of these factors can include age, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, high animal fat diet with a low fiber diet, and certain medications such as steroids, opiates or ibuprofen. A low fiber diet is a very common cause of diverticulitis. The low fiber diet causes the need to strain when pushing stool out causing the pouches to form in weak spots of the colon, than bacteria grows into the pouches leading to inflammation or infection. Over half of people over sixty years of age may suffer from diverticulosis. Having diverticulosis does not mean you will end up having diverticulitis. If you start having symptoms of belly pain and such you will want to reach out to your doctor to see if one of the colon pouches has become inflamed or infected.
Symptoms of diverticulitis can last a few hours or weeks. There are different conditions that can have the same symptoms as diverticulitis so if you experience any of these you will want to call your healthcare provider. Symptoms can include belly pain usually in the lower left quadrant of the abdomen. This is the most common symptom. You may also experience fever and chills, bloating and gas, diarrhea and constipation, nausea and vomiting, or loss of appetite.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and you reach out to your doctor there are different ways of them diagnosing you. They will listen to your symptoms and maybe able to diagnose you from that and a simple examination. You can also be diagnosed through blood test to see if there is an infection. If there is no conclusive evidence your doctor could suggest doing an X-ray or CT scan, or colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a relatively normal outpatient procedure so you will be sent home same day as procedure. It is a thirty minute procedure where they put a scope up your rectum to check on your colon, usually done under conscious sedation.
If you do have diverticulitis treatment maybe as simple as resting and seeing if the pain goes away after a few days. IV antibiotics may be given if the pain is severe enough. Otherwise your doctor may tell you to take regular pain killers to control the pain. If there is an infection in the colon you can possibly be put on antibiotics. If it is very bad you maybe told to be on a liquid diet for a period of time and then slowly adding back in solid foods. You will also be told to avoid eating seeds or corn which are things that can get stuck in the pouches in your colon. A heating pad on your abdomen can help with the pain and swelling.
Now there is a possibility of having to have surgery due to diverticulitis. This is only if the other treatments do not help, or your have long-lasting chronic pain, a bowel obstruction, fistula, or abscess. A bowel obstruction is when digested material is unable to pass normally through the bowels. A intestinal fistula is when gastric fluid leaks from one part of the intestines to the other where the folds touch. An abscess is painful, swollen, infected pus-filled area just outside your colon wall. This can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, and severe abdomen tenderness. If you have one of these you may have to have a bowel resection. Which is a procedure where they will remove the diseased or blocked area of the intestines. This is a procedure that has to be done in a hospital under general anesthesia. It is a complicated surgery where the intestines are detached from each other, the diseased section is taken out, the healthy intestine pieces are sutured or stapled back together and then everything is put back into place. This can be done as an open procedure or a laparoscopic procedure. After the surgery you will be kept in the hospital for a couple of days to make sure there are no complications. Sometimes it is only a couple days but can be up to a week. You will be monitored in what you eat to make sure you are digesting and moving things through your colon correctly. There maybe a liquid diet for a day or two until you can go back onto solid foods. After about a week after your surgery with no complications you should be able to go back to your normal routine. Exercise maybe limited, and no lifting anything heavy. There are always risks with any surgery procedure you have so make sure you discuss these with your doctor. Some of the risks are damage to other internal organs, hernia, infection, and bowel leakage.
There are some ways to prevent diverticulitis from occuring. Make sure to drink lots of water, exercise, and eat a high fiber diet. To reach a high fiber diet eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Though there are ways to try and prevent diverticulitis doing these things will not guarantee that you will not get it. Again half of people over sixty years of age have diverticulosis. The only thing that causes diverticulosis from becoming diverticulitis is one of the colon pockets becoming inflamed or infected. Make sure to check with a doctor if you have any signs or symptoms.
Diverticulitis will go away after antibiotics or other treatments. It can be a recurring condition over years though. Once you have diverticulosis it never goes away, and if someone else in your family has it, it is not from genes it is from similar eating habits. If you have diverticulosis it does not mean you will ever experience diverticulitis. Keeping up with a high fiber diet and drinking lots of water will help prevent your diverticulosis turning into a spell of diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis can be very serious. Brock Lesnar, WWE superstar and UFC fighter, had a spell of diverticulitis back in 2009 and that had him hospitalized because it wasn’t properly diagnosed or treated in a timely manner. He had a second episode of diverticulitis in 2011.
Make sure that if you experience any of the signs or symptoms of diverticulitis you reach out to your healthcare provider. There are ways to ease your pain and to manage diverticulitis and diverticulosis.
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