E-mail this E-mail this     Print Print this    
Diverticulitis is a very common condition, especially in patients over 40 years of age in developed countries such as the United States. Diverticula is a condition usually associated with the small intestine that causes small, bulging pouches of the digestive tract. Diverticulitis can be found in the stomach, small intestine, or esophagus, but most cases are concentrated on the large intestine. Most patients are completely unaware they have diverticulitis until one of the pouches becomes infected and inflamed which leads to a great deal of abdominal pain.


Most patients with diverticulitis experience abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and either significant diarrhea or significant constipation. Pain usually begins with mild discomfort that tends to flucttuate over a period of several days to a week before growing in intensity and frequency. A small percentage of patients may develop fevers, bloating, rectal bleeding, vomiting, frequent urination that can be painful or difficult, and tenderness of the abdominal region.


Diverticulitis is generally caused by pressure against the abdominal wall caused by the intestines. Eventually the abdominal wall gives way and allows the large intestine to protrude through a small opening to relieve the pressure. This process is painless. When the wall gives way and allows a small protrusion, the intestine then peeks through the abdominal wall. When infection sets in the patient then has diverticulitis.
Image: Diverticulitis


Risk factors for diverticulitis include a low fiber diet, a sedentary lifestyle or a lack of appropriate exercise, and age. Patients are most likely to experience diverticulitis from the age of 40 years old and beyond, although it has been known to happen in obese children. Exercise and an active lifestyle strengthen the muscles, creating a harder abdominal wall. Appropriate exercise can prevent diverticulitis. Fiber is an excellent stool softener, and in countries where high fiver diets are normal, few patients experience diverticulitis. The United States population eats large quantities of low fiber, high fat foods which have been processed and are devoid of ample nutritional value. This creates a hardening of the stools and an increased pressure on the colon as well as the abdominal wall.


Diverticula, the small uninfected pouches, can be discovered via a routine examination for colon cancer or other basic screenings. Diverticulitis is usually diagnosed only when the patient is experiencing serious symptoms related to the infection, such as pain and fever. Because diverticula are basically harmless until they turn into diverticulitis, it is uncommon for any treatment options to be discussed with the onset of diverticula. Blood tests to check white blood cell count and imaging techniques to get an accurate picture of the infected diverticula can help confirm the diagnosis of diverticulitis.


Complications associated with diverticulitis may include abscesses, fistulas, internal bleeding, and an obstruction in the bowel. In some cases of diverticulitis, the bulging portion of the intestine may rupture, which would then lead to body waste leaking into the abdominal wall. This condition is known as peritonitis and requires prompt medical attention and can be life threatening.


Some cases of diverticulitis are not very serious and simply require rest, antibiotics, and the avoidance of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Other cases which are more severe may require hospitalization to monitor for bowel obstructions and peritonitis. Very serious conditions may require surgical procedures including bowel resection, which involves the removal of the infected intestine, or a bowel resection with colonostomy, which involves the removal of so much intestine that it can not be reattached to the rectum. In these cases, the remaining intestine is attached to a hole in the abdominal wall and waste is removed from the body into a bag.

Regular exercise, ample fluids, and a high fiber diet can help in the prevention as well as the treatment of diverticulitis. In some cases, these basics can prevent future cases of diverticulitis. Patients who respond to the need for elimination and keep their bowel soft are not likely to require treatment for diverticula, and rarely develop diverticulitis.
  Member Comments

Medication commonly used for these disease:

drugs Diverticulitis drugs