Diverticular Disease: Cause and Effect

colon-cancer-symptoms

What are diverticulosis and diverticulitis?

Diverticulosis is the formation of small pouches in the colon that bulge outward through weak spots, like an inner tube that pokes through a weak place in a tire. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Pouches (plural) are called diverticula. The condition of having diverticula is called diverticulosis. The condition becomes more common as people age. About half of all people over the age of 60 have diverticulosis.

When the pouches become infected or inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis. this happens in 10 to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are called diverticular disease.

What are the symptoms?

Diverticulosis

Most people with diverticulosis do not have any discomfort or symptoms. However, symptoms may include mild cramps, bloating and constipation. Other diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stomach ulcers cause similar problems, so these symptoms do not always mean a person has diverticulosis. You should visit your doctor if you have these troubling symptoms.

Diverticulitis

The most common symptom of diverticulitis is abdominal pain. The most common sign is tenderness around the left side of the lower abdomen. If infection is the cause, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramping and constipation may occur as well. The severity of symptoms depends on the extent of the infection and complications.

What is the treatment for diverticular disease?

A hight-fiber diet and, occasionally, mild pain medications will help relieve symptoms in most cases. Sometimes an attack of diverticulitis is serious enough to require a hospital stay and possibly surgery.

Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet may reduce symptoms of diverticulosis and prevent complications such as diverticulitis. Fiber keeps stool soft and lowers pressure inside the colon so that bowel contents can more through easily. The American Diabetic Association recommends 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day. (See how to seamlessly add fiber into your diet.)

 

Don’t let symptoms go unchecked. Schedule an appointment today.

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