Diverticulitis is a condition that occurs when the diverticula in the large intestine become inflamed or infected. Diverticula are small pouches that bulge outward in the large intestine, or colon. They develop in the lining of the digestive system. They usually do not cause any significant problems, however in some cases they can cause problems when they become inflamed or infected.
They are actually quite common, especially in people over the age of 40.
The signs and symptoms of diverticulitis may include pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal tenderness, constipation, or sometimes diarrhea. The pain associated with diverticulitis may be constant and continue for a week or so. The pain is often felt in the lower left side of the abdomen, but may also occur on the right.
There are a number of risk factors that may increase your risk of developing diverticulitis. The risk factors for diverticulitis include age, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, and certain medications. The risk of developing diverticulitis increases with age. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diverticulitis. Smoking increases your risk of developing diverticulitis. People who get more physical exercise have a lower risk of developing diverticulitis. Consuming a diet high in animal fat and low in fiber increases your risk of developing diverticulitis.
The following medications may increase your risk for developing diverticulitis: steroids, opiates and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Treatment for diverticulitis may vary depending on how severe the condition is. If your symptoms are mild, you may be treated at home with antibiotics, consuming a liquid diet until symptoms clear up, or taking over-the-counter pain medicine. If you have a severe case of diverticulitis, treatment may include intravenous antibiotics, draining an abscess if one if present, or surgery.
Surgery is usually required if you develop a complication, such as perforation, abscess, fistula or bowel obstruction, you have had multiple episodes of uncomplicated diverticulitis, or your immune system is at risk. There two main types of surgery to treat diverticulitis include primary bowel resection and bowel resection of the colostomy.
Primary bowel resection involves removing the diseased part of the intestine and then reconnecting it to the healthy parts. This is so people can have normal bowel movements. Bowel resection with colostomy involves connecting an opening in the abdominal wall to the healthy part of the colon. This is done when a person has too much inflammation to reconnect the colon and rectum. This procedure requires wearing a colostomy bag until the inflammation has cleared up.