Diverticulitis is the painful condition, which results from the inflammation of diverticula. Diverticula are the small sacs that are formed along the lining of intestinal walls. The formation of diverticula is referred to as diverticulosis. Diverticulosis is caused by the increased pressure inside the colon due to passing of hard stools through the weakened wall of the bowels. This condition is mainly related to aging. After the age of 40, the intestinal walls usually become weak, which makes it difficult to pass the stools.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is a very painful condition. The symptoms begin suddenly and get worse with time. Pain in the lower left side of the abdomen is the most prominent symptom of diverticulitis. The patient also experiences abdominal tenderness, nausea, vomiting, bloating, flatulence and changes in bowel movements like diarrhea or constipation. Also, there may be high fever and malaise.
Causes of Diverticulitis
Although the exact causes of diverticulitis are not clear, the condition is thought to be associated with low-fiber diet. People who consume more processed foods and less amounts of fiber are more prone to this disease. Lack of exercise, obesity and smoking can also increase the risk of developing diverticulitis.
Medications for Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis, if becomes chronic and severe, can give rise to serious complications like formation of abscesses, fistula, infection, perforation and peritonitis. Therefore, early diagnosis and prompt treatment is very essential to control the disease in its early stages. Most people with diverticulosis have no visible symptoms or very mild symptoms. They don’t require any specific medical treatment. They are advised to take a normal fiber diet to prevent constipation and to prevent formation of more diverticula.
The patients with mild symptoms like abdominal pain due to muscular spasm in the area of diverticula are recommended to take anti-spasmodic drugs like dicyclomine, chlordiazepoxide, hyoscyamine, scopolamine, atropine and Phenobarbital. Over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller like paracetamol can be taken to reduce the symptoms. Painkillers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are not advisable, as they may upset the stomach and increase the risk of internal bleeding. If you are suffering from constipation, the doctor prescribes a bulk-forming laxative. However, this can cause bloating and flatulence. You are advised to drink plenty of water in order to prevent any obstruction in the digestive system.
When the symptoms of diverticulitis are seen, the use of antibiotics is necessary. In case of mild symptoms, oral antibiotics can be administered. Some of the commonly prescribed antibiotics are ciprofloxacin, cephalexin, metronidazole and doxycycline. In mild diverticulitis, the patient is given a clear liquid diet and oral broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy. The antimicrobial therapy includes anaerobic microorganisms like Bacteroides fragilis, Clostridium and Peptostreptococcus as well as aerobic bacteria like Klebsiella, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus, Proteus and Enterobacter.
During acute attack of diverticulitis, the sufferer is advised to take liquid or low-fiber foods. In case of severe diverticulitis with extreme pain and high fever, hospitalization is necessary for giving intravenous antibiotics. Surgery is recommended for the patients with abscess or bowel obstruction and not responding to antibiotics.
Once the episode of acute attacks has resolved, the patient is switched to high-fiber diet as tolerated and advised to maintain a lifelong high-fiber diet to prevent recurrent attacks of diverticulitis.