The formation of diverticula along the walls of sigmoid colon is identified as sigmoid diverticulitis. The large intestine or colon is divided into various parts such as ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon and rectum. The major function of colon is to store and eliminate the fecal matter. With advanced age, the intestinal walls become weak. When the stool passes through the bowels, the pressure inside the colon is increased. This leads to the formation of small, bulging pouches, known as diverticula, along the lining of intestinal walls. Although diverticula may be formed anywhere in the colon, diverticula on sigmoid colon are more common. Sigmoid colon tends to contract strongly, when the waste material is pushed out through the rectum, which increases the chances of formation of diverticula on the sigmoid colon. This condition is identified as sigmoid diverticulitis.
Causes and Symptoms of Sigmoid Diverticulitis
Diverticula may grow gradually, causing several problems. Those, who suffer from constipation, are at the increased risk of developing diverticula. The weakened intestine due to aging is also more likely to develop diverticula. Infection or inflammation of one or more diverticula is referred to as diverticulitis. Outwardly bulging sacs formed along the intestinal walls may cause the blockage of waste material, resulting in bacterial growth and infection. The infection can cause perforation in the colon, leading to spread of infection to the surrounding tissues in the abdominal cavity. Intake of low-fiber diet, obesity, lack of exercise and smoking are some of the contributory factors for diverticulosis.
The person with diverticulosis may not experience any noticeable symptoms. But, acute sigmoid diverticulitis may exhibit severe and painful symptoms like abdominal pain and tenderness, nausea, vomiting and bloating. The sufferer usually experiences extreme pain in the lower left side of the abdomen. There may also be changes in the bowel movements like constipation or diarrhea. The patient may experience high fever and malaise.
Acute Sigmoid Diverticulitis Treatment
Mild sigmoid diverticulitis can be managed with dietary changes and home remedies. You should include high-fiber foods in your regular diet. You need to consume lots of fruits along with skin and edible seeds, fresh vegetables, whole wheat, whole grain cereals, bran, legumes like beans, peas and lentils. High-fiber foods absorb water from the colon and help to make the stool bulky and smooth, so that it can easily pass through the colon. Thus, fiber prevents constipation and minimizes the chances of developing diverticula. When taking fiber-rich foods, you should drink plenty of water and fluids to prevent constipation. Also, you should include foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, as they help combat inflammation. You need to avoid processed foods and high-fat dairy products. Stay away from unhealthy habits like smoking and alcoholism.
When the symptoms of sigmoid diverticulitis are severe, oral antibiotics like metronidazole, ciprofloxacin, cephalexin and doxycycline as well as anti-spasmodic drugs like dicyclomine, chlordiazepoxide, hyoscyamine, scopolamine, atropine and Phenobarbital are administered. If the sufferer does not respond to medications and/or if complications like formation of fistula, abscess or perforation are developed, then hospitalization is recommended to give intravenous antibiotics. The surgery is advised in very serious cases.