Diverticulitis is the common condition that affects the digestive system. It is characterized by the formation of small, bulging pouches along the lining of intestine. These pouches or sacs are referred to as diverticula. Diverticula can be formed anywhere in the digestive system, including small intestine, esophagus or bladder. However, the most common site for the development of diverticula is the large intestine or colon. The formation of diverticula is known as diverticulosis. When diverticula protrude through the intestinal wall and become infected or inflamed, it results in diseased condition, called as diverticulitis. It gives rise to the symptoms like intense pain in the lower left side of the abdomen, tenderness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, bloating, diarrhea and changes in bowel habits. The sufferer may also experience high fever and malaise. The symptoms usually start suddenly and eventually get worse over time.
The condition is mainly associated with aging. After the age of 40, people are more prone to develop diverticulitis due to weakened intestine. The harder stool when passes through the weakened large intestine, it increases the pressure inside the colon, which leads to the formation of diverticula. Low-fiber diet is another significant contributing factor. Fiber is an important part of our diet, which helps to keep the stool soft and bulky, so that it can easily pass through the intestine and thus prevents constipation. Other factors to cause diverticulitis are smoking, obesity and lack of exercise.
If not treated promptly, diverticulitis can give rise to certain serious complications like abscess formation, peritonitis (abdominal infection), formation of fistula, bowel obstruction and perforation. Various treatment options for diverticulitis include medications like antibiotics, analgesics as well as surgery in case of chronic and severe diverticulitis. However, medications and surgery can impart certain harmful effects. If complications are developed, the condition becomes very painful. Therefore, it is always better if you can prevent the disease than to cure it.
Diverticulitis can be prevented by following certain precautionary measures. Intake of fiber-rich diet certainly reduces the risk of diverticulitis.
– Your daily diet should contain rich amount of fiber. Daily consumption of at least five portions of fresh vegetables like peas, potatoes, spinach and squash as well as fruits like apples, prunes and pears is recommended. Beans like kidney beans and black beans are also the good sources of fiber. Your daily diet should include minimum 25-35 grams of fiber. Some other foods that are rich in fiber are whole grain breads, pastas, cereals and unprocessed foods.
– When you are taking high-fiber foods, you need to drink plenty of water and other fluids. It helps to keep the feces soft and easy to pass through the bowels, preventing constipation.
– When you feel an urge for bowel movement, don’t avoid it. If you delay going to the toilet, it causes the harder stools, which needs more pressure to pass the stools.
– Since obesity is one of the causative factors for diverticulitis, try to maintain healthy body weight by means of healthy, nutritious diet and regular exercising. Avoid eating spicy and oily foods as well as processed foods to prevent obesity.
– Regular exercise is an important aspect of prevention of diverticulitis. Exercising promotes normal bowel function and reduces pressure inside the colon. You should have minimum 30 minutes exercising per day.