Diverticulitis is the disease of colon, caused by the infection and inflammation of single or multiple diverticula. Diverticula are the small pouches or sacs that are formed in the lining of large intestine or colon. This condition is referred to as diverticulosis. Diverticulosis generally doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms. When the feces get trapped in the diverticula, they become infected and inflamed, known as diverticulitis. It gives rise to the symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. It can be treated be treated with medications and surgery as well as natural remedies including dietary changes.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis
The symptoms of diverticulitis generally start suddenly. The symptoms are mild in the starting and may worsen with time. The most prominent symptom is diverticulitis is intermittent pain in the lower-left side of the abdomen. The pain tends to worsen when eating or immediately after eating. Passing stools and flatulence may help to reduce pain. The Asian people may experience the pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. The reason is that Asian people tend to develop diverticula in various parts of colon, might be due to genetic reasons. The sufferer may experience cramps, tenderness and pain in the abdomen, which may worsen with movement. There may also be bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits like diarrhea or constipation. The patient may experience loss of appetite, nausea and sometimes vomiting as well as high fever and feeling of being sick. The symptoms may last for few hours to several days. In chronic and severe cases, there may arise some complications like formation of abscess, fistula, bowel infection, obstruction, perforation and peritonitis.
Causes of Diverticulitis
Diverticulosis can be described as formation of small pouches, diverticula, along the intestinal lining. The condition is caused due to aging. When the hard stool passes through the weakened large intestine, it increases the pressure inside the colon, leading to development of diverticula. When the feces are trapped inside the diverticula, they get infected by the bacteria, causing inflammation. This condition is referred to as diverticulitis. Elderly people are at the increased risk of developing diverticulitis. Some other contributing factors are smoking, being overweight, history of constipation, physical inactivity as well as use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Consumption low-fiber diet is another important contributing factor for diverticulitis. Fiber is an essential part of our diet, which keeps the bowel well-functioning. Fiber absorbs water from the colon and makes the stools soft and bulky, so that it can pass easily and smoothly through the large intestine. It also helps to prevent constipation and in turn, diverticular disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Diverticulitis
The diagnosis is done on the basis of clinical history, symptoms and physical examination. For the confirmation of diagnosis, the investigations such as blood tests like complete blood count and imaging tests like CT scan, USG or X-ray are done.
The mild cases of diverticulitis can be treated with rest, relaxation and medications like antibiotics, analgesics and antispasmodic drugs. You may need hospitalization and surgery in case of chronic and severe diverticulitis as well as if complications like fistula or abscesses are developed.