Diverticulitis is the condition of inflammation or infection of pockets that can develop in your intestines. These small and swollen pockets are known as diverticula, which can appear in your intestines. If you carry them, it’s referred to as diverticulosis. Read this article for more detailed information about the treatment, prevention, symptoms, and causes of diverticulitis.
What is diverticulitis
Diverticula are small, swollen pockets that can develop in the lining of the digestive system. They are often present inside the large intestine (colon). It is the most frequently occurring condition that increases with age, and often people do not experience it.
Diverticula is known as diverticulosis. If one or more of the diverticula gets inflamed or have a few infected cases called diverticulitis.
Even though diverticulosis is general, diverticulitis is not common in people. It influences about 4% of people having diverticulosis. If you ever experience it, you have a 20% risk of recurrent development of diverticulitis.
Types of diverticulitis
Doctors categorize diverticulitis into the following types, including:
Acute or chronic
Diverticulitis initially starts developing as an acute problem (sudden) and vanishes with immediate treatment. However, few people may experience repeated series of diverticulitis and some people experience chronic inflammation. Several types of research are present that can tell the reason for this. It may occur due to an acute episode that does not heal up fully or may link to a different chronic condition in your colon.
Complicated or uncomplicated
Several times diverticulitis does not show complications that tell us that inflammation and possible infection are the consequences of the problem. It goes away instantly with the suitable possible treatment.
Diverticulitis leads to complications as the inflammation starts developing secondary conditions. Severe and sudden inflammation may develop a diverticulum to failure.
Symptoms of diverticulitis
Here are the symptoms of diverticulitis include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the abdomen that becomes severe and consistent for up to several days. Generally, you have frequent pain in the lower left side of the abdomen. But, in a few cases, the pain can be more painful in the right side of the abdomen.
- Swelling in the abdomen or palpable colon
- Bleeding from the abdomen
- Constipation or infrequent, diarrhea
If you experience these symptoms, you should take an e-consultation with a healthcare provider.
Diverticula generally occurs if you have weak positions in the colon collapse under pressure. It leads to developing pouches or pockets similar to marble-sized into your colon.
Diverticulitis develops due to inflammation in your diverticula often associated with damage in the lining and infection, even though there is no clarity present that shows which appears first. While diverticula develop concealed places for bacteria, they can build up and increase. A common example of this occurs when a few poops become stuck in any of them. A bacterial infection may activate inflammation and may develop swelling and tears in your diverticulum.
If a diverticulum breaks for the other reason, the normal bacteria levels in your colon may infect it. It may damage when hard and dry poops extend it during the flow through, or it may also influence due to colitis (colon inflammation).
- Abscess – An abscess is a pocket of infected pus that may require to be cleared out. If it bursts, it may infect your peritoneal cavity (peritonitis).
- Intestinal obstruction – Extreme swelling may lead to a temporary reduction in the size of your colon. Chronic swelling may develop scarring that may develop more permanent narrowing.
- Fistulas – An inflamed and corroded colon wall may combine with another body organ like a small intestine, bladder, or vagina, developing an unsuitable hole between them.
- Bladder inflammation – You may have irritation or inflammation if diverticulitis is near your bladder. The presence of a fistula near your bladder may also spread the infection.
- Bleeding in the gastrointestinal – If you experience bleeding from the diverticula, it may become severe and result in anemia.
- Perforation in the gastrointestinal – When your diverticulum swells sufficiently to crack, it may result in intestinal bacteria entering your peritoneal cavity. Peritonitis can develop sepsis (a condition where your immune system has a deadly response to the infection).
The following are the factors that may lead to a high risk of diverticulitis:
- Age – The occurrence of diverticulitis increases as people get older.
- Obesity or overweight – Excessive weight gain or obesity can develop a high chance of diverticulitis.
- Lack of physical activity – No exercise or physical activity may lead to a high risk of diverticulitis.
- Smoking – Smoking cigarettes can also lead to experience diverticulitis.
- Taking a diet containing high fat and low fiber – If you get high animal fat with a low-fiber diet, you may have a risk, however, the part of fiber as an individual requires more research.
- Use of particular medications – Certain drugs linked with the high risk of diverticulitis, such as steroids, opioids, and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen sodium.
How to diagnose diverticulitis?
A healthcare provider may first ask about your symptoms to diagnose diverticulitis if you think you have it. However, most people do not consider the symptoms as they mix with other conditions. A healthcare provider may start with a few regular tests to find other causes, including a blood test, urine test, or stool test.
If your healthcare provider identifies diverticulitis, they will observe it using imaging tests such as a CT scan. A CT scan helps indicate the severity of the inflammation besides any related consequences. A provider may check the internal structure of your colon using a lighted scope to check in detail in a few cases, also known as a colonoscopy.
A liquid diet
A healthcare provider will recommend a liquid diet if you have mild diverticulitis. It allows your bowel to take some rest and get back from the disease. A provider may suggest more particular instructions about what things you need to eat and when.
You may also need to take antibiotics to treat the infection. The antibiotic type may vary depending on the nature of the infection you have.
A provider may suggest you take over-the-counter (OTC) such as acetaminophen to relieve pain. If you take other common pain relievers, it may lead to an increase in your risk of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding.
If you experience diverticulitis, you may need to stop taking NSAIDs because they may lead to a high risk of bleeding. These medicines include Ibuprofen, Naproxen sodium, and aspirin.
This treatment helps most of the time when people are experiencing definite cases of diverticulitis. In the extreme case, you may need to stay in the hospital and take antibiotics injected into your vein. If you have an abdominal abscess, a healthcare provider will pump it out. You may need surgery if it is the case in which you have damaged intestine or peritonitis.
Here are the two possible surgical methods that may be suggested to you, including
Primary bowel distribution
This process involves the removal of those parts of the intestines that are damaged. A surgeon attaches the healthy section to it. After this procedure, you may experience regular bowel movements.
Bowel resection using a colostomy
The requirement of this procedure occurs if you have high amounts of swelling that cannot reconnect your colon to your rectum immediately. A healthcare provider will make a room or an opening in your abdominal wall to take the waste into a bag. Surgeons mostly reattach the bowel as the inflammation goes away.
Depending on the nature of the consequences and their severity, a surgical method will be recommended. Your doctor may order a colonoscopy to eliminate colon cancer as soon as you recover.
Here are the preventive measures that you can take to eliminate diverticulitis, including
Take more fiber
A high-fiber diet reduces the chance of developing diverticulitis, including whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables that help soften the hardened waste substance and release it instantly through your colon.
Exercise helps in the function of regular bowel movements and decreases the pressure within the colon. You can do at least 30 minutes of daily exercise.
Add enough water to your diet
The amount of fiber intake absorbs with water, leading to soft, compiled waste in your colon. However, if you do not take adequate liquid to release what you digested, fiber may result in constipation.
If you smoke regularly, it may also lead to a high chance of developing diverticulitis.
Consult a doctor online for more recommendations based on your current health conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does a diverticulitis attack seem to appear?
If you experience acute diverticulitis or a flare-up of chronic diverticulitis, you may experience the same pain. An acute attack is more sudden and severe, whereas a chronic flare-up may develop within some days. A provider helps to find the particular position where you experience diverticulum inflammation. It may look keen and penetrating or carry a burning quality.
Where can diverticulitis pain be felt?
Diverticula often develop in the end part of the colon, known as the sigmoid colon, in people of European descent. It starts from your lower left side and goes slightly to the right to attach your rectum. It is why people experience diverticulitis pain under the left side of the abdomen. Rarely, this pain may transfer to your pelvis or back.
In people of Asian descent, diverticulosis often develops in the first part of the colon. It may lead to upper abdominal pain.
Is diverticulitis a genetic disease?
Diverticulitis can occur by accident. However, diverticulosis may develop due to the involvement of a genetic factor. Even if you are not born with diverticulosis, you may have a chance of developing it in a particular colon if you are of Asian or European descent. Also, the risk is present that genetics may impact the development of chronic inflammation. However, there are more studies required on this case.
Can diverticulitis disappear on its own?
The uncomplicated diverticulitis may depart itself. But, you may require to consult a healthcare provider for a more careful examination to see the presence of it. Your doctors may recommend some antibiotics to treat an infection, and a few people may also need prescribed pain medications. A provider may also guide you about the precautions you may need to take at home as the treatment shows effectiveness, which may take a week at least. You may need to keep in contact with your provider.
What can happen if diverticulitis does not receive treatment?
If you do not receive treatment for complicated diverticulitis on time, you may have a chance of developing severe consequences. Specific infections may be treated by using antibiotics or antivirals. The inflammation present in your body may develop other problems and your pain also becomes serious.
Can I prevent diverticulitis from coming or returning?
Doctors usually do not have information about the reason for the development of diverticulitis or why it reverts back. But they think that a regular bowel can help in this case. You can eat more plants and fewer animal fats, take plenty of water, and do daily exercise may strengthen your bowel movement. A healthcare provider may also suggest fiber supplements or probiotics in a few cases. .
What do I need to do if diverticulitis returns?
If you follow the diet and lifestyle changes, but it does not help prevent diverticulitis from repeating, you may carry other factors that lead you to more risk. If you have a weak immune system, you have a more likely chance of recurrent infections and take a longer time to recover. If people experience autoimmune diseases, they may be at risk of developing chronic inflammation. The presence of different bacteria in your gut may influence the immunity of your gut.
If diverticulitis occurs again and leads to severe complications, a provider suggests surgery for bowel resection. A surgeon will remove the part of your colon that contains diseases.
Diverticulitis is a less frequent complication of diverticulosis. Diverticulitis may develop its own consequences found in very few people. However, if you experience it, you may need to take immediate action. You can schedule an appointment online with a provider if you have symptoms of diverticulitis. A provider will recommend treatment and preventive measures depending on your medical condition or if you may require treatment at the hospital.