Diverticular disease is a health condition that affects large intestines. This condition causes small bulges, also known as diverticula on the intestinal wall. Although it is possible to find these sacs anywhere along the colon, studies reveal that they are most common in the region close to the rectum known as the sigmoid colon.
When referring to this disease, it is important to distinguish between Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis. Diverticulosis is a term used when referring to the presence of diverticula. The presence of diverticula does not necessarily expose a person to complications. However, it has the potential to develop into serious complications called diverticulitis. As such, diverticulitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the colon associated with perforation of these sacs.
Whom does Diverticular Disease affect?
Diverticular disease is among the most common digestive related conditions. Though it affects both sexes, this disease tends to appear at a slightly younger age in men (under 50) compared to women. It largely affects people in western nations as it has a higher concentration in European and North American countries. People who are in the age range of 50 – 70 years and eat a diet high in fiber have a lower chance of admission to hospital because of this condition.
Causes of Diverticular Disease
According to studies in the medical field, the major cause of diverticular disease is the formation small bulges or sacs located in the large intestine. When these sacs inflame, the infection leads to symptoms associated with diverticulitis. Whereas, the precise cause for diverticular remains unclear, the consensus is that they occur when people fail to eat enough fiber.
Having a diet comprising of fiber helps in softening stool, this reduces pressure needed by large intestines when pushing it out of the body. In essence, the process of moving small and hard pieces of stool down the large intestines creates weak spots located on the outside layer. In effect, allowing the mucosa or inner layer to get through these spots creating the sacs. Even though adequate evidence relating diverticular disease and fiber is still lacking, it is quite common in countries where people do not have enough fiber in their diet. You can also read article about Anal cancer and Hemorrhoids.
Factors associated with increasing risk of diverticular disease include smoking, obesity or overweight and using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Though these factors are common among people suffering from this condition, how they lead to developing diverticular disease remains unclear. Diverticulitis, on the other hand, occurs when infections strike at least one of the diverticulas. Inflections develop when undigested or hard stool stick in the sac. This creates room for the bacteria to multiply triggering the multiplication of infections.
Symptoms associated with Diverticular Disease
A good number of patients suffering from this condition rarely show indications of the disease. Essentially, there are few or no symptoms. Doctors ascertain the presence of this condition based on tests associated with other intestinal problems. In effect, they conduct diverticulitis diagnosis. However, diverticulitis symptoms are extreme abdominal pains mostly in the left lower abdomen, fluctuating fever, an elevated amount of white blood cells in the blood, abdominal tenderness on the left lower abdomen, constipation and bouts of diarrhea.
Complications associated with Diverticular Disease
In extreme cases, people run into a string of complications. These complications include the formation of abscess in the colon. Some patients also encounter perforation of the colon walls. Some life threatening conditions such as peritonitis often cause patients to become quite ill.
Another common complication is the narrowing of the colon, which prevents the passage of stool. Rectal bleeding is a complication that makes it difficult to expel stool. Lastly, formation of fistula is a major devastating condition. It occurs when a tract to another organ forms. In most cases, the tract connects to the bladder, vagina, or the uterus. You can also read some details from this article too.
How to treat Diverticulitis
When formed, diverticula become permanent. We do not have a clear medication or treatment to handle diverticular disease or diverticulitis. Nevertheless, doctors recommend a set of measures that can help in managing the condition. These measures focus on what foods to eat and what to avoid.
Upon diverticulitis diagnosis, doctors recommend diverticular disease diet. This diet entails increasing the intake of foods rich in fiber. Fiber acts by increasing stool bulk thereby reducing or eliminating constipation. It also relieves pressure found in the colon preventing further development of diverticula. Some of the recommended foods include high intake of fruits and vegetables, having a diet rich in legumes. In addition, one should also have whole grains.Things to avoid include nuts, seeds such as poppy and sesame seeds.
Apart from dietary approaches of treating this disease, doctors also prescribe antibiotic medication. Doctors often prefer diverticulitis antibiotic treatment options depending on the severity and complicated nature of the symptoms. In most cases, it is possible to treat mild symptoms from home. Doctors normally recommend antibiotics to treat some of the infections that may be arising from inflammations.
Some of these antibiotics are over the counter drugs so they are easily available. Essentially, one should take antibiotics alongside paracetamol for pain. If you are in the habit of stopping medication because you feel well, you need to stop this habit. It is very important to ensure that you complete the entire course of antibiotics to prevent relapse. It is also necessary to note that some of the side effects one is likely to encounter include vomiting as well as diarrhea.
When complications arise, general treatment approaches involve the use of intravenous antibiotics and the insertion of tubes aimed at draining abdominal abscess that tend to form from infections. In extreme cases, for instance, fistula or obstruction, puncture on the wall and bowel abscess, doctors conduct diverticulitis surgery to treat these extreme conditions.
In conclusion, it is important to be wary of stomach-related pain. When they occur, ensure that you go for a medical checkup. This will go a long way in establishing whether there are any sacs in your colon. Most importantly, create a plan for exercise alongside having a rich and healthy diet. Feel free to contact our surgeons at the earliest if necessary.