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Diverticulitis - Symptoms and Treatment

Diverticulitis is a common disease of the bowel , in particular the large intestine. Diverticulitis develops from diverticulosis , which involves the formation of pouches ( diverticula ) on the outside of the colon . Most of the time, diverticulitis can be treated with dietary changes and if there is an infection with antibiotics. About one-quarter of people with diverticulitis have complications, such as an abscess, fistula, or obstruction of the colon, that require surgery. Diverticulitis is more common in people older than 40. It can be severe in people of any age, although it is most serious in the elderly, especially those taking corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system and thus increase the hazards of infection. One or more pouches in the colon may become inflamed or infected, causing severe abdominal pain , fever, nausea and a marked change in your bowel habits. When diverticula become infected, the condition is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis usually clears up within a week with antibiotics and a liquid or soft diet. (A soft diet includes anything that does not require a lot of chewing: soup, mashed potatoes, cooked or pureed vegetables, bananas, Jell-O and pudding fit this category.) After the acute infection clears up, patients should eat a high-fiber diet including nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. They should drink plenty of fluids and avoid constipation at all costs, even if that requires taking Metamucil (psyllium seed) or other fiber products daily. Hard stools or straining will cause more diverticuli to appear or the existing ones to enlarge.

Diverticulitis is a sometimes painful condition that develops when pouches ( diverticula ) that form in the wall of the colon, part of the large intestine , become inflamed or infected. Sometimes, with age, the inner, lining layer of the large intestine bulges out through the outer, muscular layer. Diverticula occur at weakened spots in the colon wall. As pressure within the colon increases, bulging occurs. This increase in pressure may be caused by constipation, which could result from a low-fiber diet. When diverticulitis develops, there is an increased risk of perforation, bleeding, and blockage.

Causes of Diverticulitis

Common Causes of Diverticulitis :

  • Hereditary factors may play a small role in the development of diverticulosis.
  • A low-fiber diet (common in industrialized Western countries) is correlated with diverticulosis. The disorder is almost unheard of in rural Asian and African societies, where a high-fiber diet is the norm.
  • Diverticulosis is usually caused by chronically increased pressure and strain on the colon wall.
  • Increased pressure on the colon from straining during bowel movements or from chronic constipation may lead to the formation of diverticula.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

Some common Symptoms of Diverticulitis :

  • Vomiting.
  • Constipation .
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Nausea
  • Blood in stool.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Frequent urination.

Treatment of Diverticulitis

  • Antispasmodic drugs may be prescribed to relax the muscles around the digestive tract.
  • Surgery may be necessary to drain an abscess.
  • Injections of painkillers may be warranted in severe cases of diverticulitis.
  • For diverticulitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and bed rest, often in the hospital.
  • Blood transfusions may be necessary in patients with profound bleeding from diverticuli.



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