Learning About Diverticulitis

Eating an unbalanced diet can have more complications than just looking a bit overweight.  Individuals on low-fiber diets are more prone to constipation, which can cause increased colon pressure during a bowel movement and may lead to weakening of the colon wall and eventually diverticula. Food can back up into the diverticula, or pouches in the colon, and bacteria can begin to thrive there leading to infection.  When these pockets, or diverticula, in the wall of the colon become inflamed or infected, this is specific type of diverticular infection called diverticulitis.  Although most people with diverticula in their colon will never develop diverticulitis, it is more common in people as they grow older and symptoms should not be overlooked as surgery may be necessary for proper treatment. Let’s see how diverticulitis can present itself, and what everyone should look out for.

Common symptoms of diverticulitis:

·       Pain on lower left side of the abdomen

·       Stomach pain

·       Fever

·       Bloating

·       Diarrhea

·       Nausea

·       Cramping

·       Rectal Bleeding

What do I do if I have diverticulitis?

Diagnosing diverticulitis is usually done through alternative means such as inquiring about symptoms, bowel habits, and diet.  A colonoscopy procedure can also confirm and identify diverticula, but can be confirmed by a colonoscopy – to identify diverticula – and stool culture or blood test to confirm infection. If diverticulitis is identified, the infection can usually be treated and cured by common antibiotics like Cipro or Levaquin.  There are times, however, where surgery is required to remove the affected part of the colon, and rejoin two healthy sections.  With the portion of the colon with diverticula gone, a patient can more easily avoid other infections in the future.

Who is most at risk for diverticulitis?

                  There are a number of risk factors that may increase your risk of developing diverticulitis. These include:

·       Age

·       Obesity

·       Smoking

·       lack of exercise

·       poor diet

·       certain medications

Medications like steroids, opiates and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, also increase your risk for developing diverticulitis.

How can I prevent diverticulitis?

Changing your diet could be the simplest and most beneficial way to avoid creating diverticula in the colon and preventing diverticulitis.  High fiber diets can ensure easier bowel movements, cleaner/healthier intestinal tracts, and a reduction in the incidence of diverticula forming. The following are foods recommended to increase your daily intake of fiber:

·       Fruit: Raw apples, peaches, pears, and tangerines.

·       Vegetables: Fresh broccoli, squash, carrots, and Brussel sprouts.

·       Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, baked beans, kidney beans, and lima beans.

·       Grains: Whole-wheat bread, brown rice, bran flake cereal, and oatmeal.