Diverticulitis Treatment Guide
Diverticulitis is a disorder of the digestive tract system. Diverticulum is an abnormal pouch the get formed anywhere along the course of the intestines, but generally occur at the sigmoid colon, immediately above the rectum. Several sacs can get formed at a given time. By itself, diverticulum or diverticula cause no known harmful side effects. When the sac becomes inflamed or ruptured is when problems arise. Thus, diverticulitis is an inflammatory condition of the diverticulum, and in case it breaks open, then infection can set in.
Diverticulum formation is not just restricted to the colon area. This pouch may also get formed in the esophageal tube that is a part of the gastrointestinal tract and lies above the stomach. Here, the cause of inflammation is accumulation of food particles. Most diverticulitis conditions warrant immediate surgery to prevent any further damage to the digestive tract.
A blind pouch at the beginning of the large intestine into which the ileum opens and which is continuous with the colon is called the cecum and diverticulum of the cecum can also occur. However, this is a very rare occurrence and its symptoms resemble that of acute appendicitis. It is very difficult to differentiate between cecal diverticulitis and acute appendicitis and most often this is identified when the individual is operated on to cure appendicitis.
Diverticulum in the bladder is also not an uncommon condition with sacs getting formed in the walls of the bladder. This type for the most part exists from birth and symptoms occur only when they begin to enlarge over time. Bilateral abdominal pain may be noted that is band like in distribution, dull in nature, occurring on and off.
This problem has become a more common condition among the present generation because of high consumption of processed food products that lack in dietary fibers which is essential to maintain good health of the digestive tract. This along with lack of exercise sets the base for various body ailments including diverticulum formation. Also, as the body ages, the pressure within the colon may influence small areas of intestinal tissues to push out from the walls to form this small sac. This is because the colon wall linings become thin as one grows old. Another factor that may contribute to the inflammation of diverticulum is accumulation of fecal matter or bacteria within the formed sacs.
Symptoms that indicate the seriousness of this disorder are a sudden onset of pain in the lower abdomen, more prominent in the left side of the stomach. A change in bowel movement patterns may be noted that may be accompanied with diarrhea and bloody stools due to bleeding in the colon. Pain while urinating may also be noted. Some may experience a bloating sensation along with nauseousness or vomiting. When infection sets in, high body temperatures will be seen.
Diverticulum symptoms are very similar to other common stomach problems and hence only get identified while undergoing routine examinations to determine other stomach disorders. Abdominal pain is a common symptom for a number of ailments, thus appendicitis, indigestion, ulcers, colon cancer, and inflammatory disease conditions need to be ruled out. A series of x-rays and CT scans will provide a comprehensive view of the intestines and help detect any diverticulum present.
Types of Treatment
Intestinal disorder characterized by the presence of diverticulum requires intense care. Protrusions of the wall lining along the length of the digestive tract, that appears like pouches are medically termed as diverticulum. It is vital to identify this abdominal disorder before any rupture or widespread infection can occur. Spreading of infection into the bloodstream can pose a threat to the individual’s overall health condition.
Treatment methods vary depending on the severity of the condition. Normally, diverticulum symptoms that are very mild in nature will often resolve after calming the intestine by following a liquid diet and a few days of total bed rest. When the disorder is moderate in severity, pain relievers and a course of antibiotics will get rid of the inflammatory conditions and prevent any infections from occurring.
Localized collection of pus can occur in the abdominal cavity due to diverticulum rupture. This pus formation called abscess is surrounded by inflamed tissues and only with abscess drainage will pain relief be obtained. Under x-ray guidance, the needled end of a draining tube is passed percutaneously into the abscess and left in place for a couple of days until the drainage is complete. If gaining entry into the abscess through this maneuver is not achieved, then a belly incision is done to access the abscess and drain it successfully. Again, the drain is left in place until the infection gets completely cleared.
Surgery is warranted in case diverticulitis becomes severe in order to eliminate the diseased portions so as to stop any further damage to the intestine. First in order is a bowel resection where the infected parts of the intestine are surgically cut off and the healthy ends united again so as to intercommunicate. This surgical intervention is widely required by those who have recurrent attacks of diverticulitis and this recurrence is common among middle aged people. Surgery can only be done after clearing out any infections with use of antibiotics and percutaneous drainage of abscesses, if any present. Resection of the bowel will also assist in resuming normal bowel movements.
Now, if the infectious state and inflammatory conditions of the colon is severe and do not respond to any antibiotic treatments, or if the abscess is extensive, then reuniting the colon and rectum after severing the infected parts becomes almost impossible to be conducted immediately. In such a condition, bowel resection with colostomy may be warranted. This method requests two separate operations, the first conducted to drain out abscess, clear out infection, and remove the infected parts of the intestine. Complete cure of the infection may require some time, and if any obstruction is present, then reconnection of the colon will not be safe to be performed at this stage. Instead a procedure called colostomy will be done where an artificial passage is created to permit normal eating and bowel movements. A temporary opening in the abdomen will be fashioned out and the colon end will be connected to this stoma. Fecal matter will get collected in a bag which again is a temporary attachment to the abdominal opening. A couple of months later a second operation is performed to reconnect the ends of the colon, and this will resume normal abdominal functions.
Diverticulitis – Natural Cures
Small projections of the intestinal wall anywhere along the length of the digestive tract can develop in any individual, but more so in elderly people. These projections have the appearance of a sac or pouch and can occur at a single site or at multiple locations. This pouch formation characterizes an abnormal condition of the intestine termed as diverticulum. Diverticulum as such is not considered to be a harmful condition though abnormal, but when it becomes infected, called diverticulitis, this condition commands immediate attention. An individual’s overall health to a great extend depends on the good state of the digestive system, and there are several home remedial measures that one can follow to keep the functions of the digestive tract running smooth constantly.
Healthy eating habits and routine exercises should be enforced as one grows older. These measures will check several types of body ailments that are common to an ageing body. Cases of diverticulitis have grown in number mainly due to consuming unwholesome food products. A low intake of dietary fibers raises the chances of fecal matter becoming more compact, causing difficulty and uneasiness during its elimination out of the body. When experiencing constipation, in order to have a bowel movement, the individual will have to strain vigorously. Such straining efforts will increase pressure in the colon which in turn encourages diverticulum formation.
Constipation can also occur when fixed meal timings are not followed. Thus, as far as possible one should have meals at a fixed time and increase intake of foods that are high in both soluble as well as insoluble fibers. These dietary fibers are essential to keep fecal matter soft for easy bowel movements. However, if diverticulitis has already set in, then avoid high-fiber diets; instead follow a liquid diet to provide colon ample rest for recovery. Avoid intake of foods that are highly processed, refined, and those that have additives, hydrogenated and trans fats.
Individuals who experience constipation due to prescription drug use are advised to consume psyllium, which is the seed of a fleawort. This is a fiber laxative also available commercially in a capsule form and contains properties that will trigger contractions of the muscle walls involved while having a bowel movement. Avoid taking this for more than a week, though.
Foods that a person is allergic to should be avoided, since allergic reactions in the digestive tract can trigger inflammatory conditions of the diverticulum.
Sufficient water intake will also assist in keeping the stools soft and preventing the state of constipation to a great extent. Moreover, insoluble dietary fibers will require some assistance from water to keep the stools soft and mushy. Also, consuming several glasses of lukewarm water in the mornings, before eating anything, will stimulate normal digestion and regular bowel movements.
Restrict consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain plenty of small seeds, like tomatoes, guava; tiny whole spices like sesame, for these can get trapped in the diverticulum and cause an infection.
Regular exercises performed will regularize normal functions of the body. Deep breathing exercises and staying in a meditative state for longer period of times will assist in keeping the entire body relaxed and calm which is essential to deal with severe cases of diverticulitis. When any achiness or discomfort develops in the lower abdominal area, place heating pads at frequent intervals for relief.