Recognizing Diverticulitis: It’s Not Just a Pain in Your Abdomen?

Diverticulitis
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Diverticulitis is a condition that occurs when pouches (diverticula) in your large intestine become inflamed.  The inflammation can be either bacterial or nonbacterial.  The condition characterized by the presence of non-inflamed pouches in the large intestine is known as diverticulosis.  Diverticulosis is the first phase of developing diverticulitis.  Diverticulosis is a chronic condition and cannot be reversed.  Because its symptoms are veiled under the guise of less serious conditions, diverticulosis is generally discovered during a routine colonoscopy or radiography exam.  It is believed that diverticulitis develops when a stool blocks one or more diverticula in the large intestine.  Around one-third of the population in the western world have diverticulosis.  Fifty percent of people are affected by the age of sixty, and ninety percent by the age of eighty.  Conversely, this condition is almost unheard on the continent of Africa.

Causes of diverticulosis

The causes of diverticulosis are still not fully understood, but various factors can contribute to its development:

Lack of dietary fibers is considered the most significant cause of diverticulosis. The absence of dietary fiber can make a stool hard, which then requires more pressure to expel.  In parts of the world where the intake of dietary fiber is considerably high, such as Africa or Asia, diverticulosis is less common than in the Western World.

Causes of diverticulosis range in consistency and severity:

  • Presence of weak properties in your colon wall
  • Increased pressure in your bowels
  • Constipation
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Prescription medications
  • Genetics
  • Aging

Related: What Is Diverticulitis: Can Diverticulitis Cause Serious Complications?

Symptoms of diverticulitis

Symptoms of the disease can develop suddenly within a few hours, or even days.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Blood in stool

Abdominal pain– A prevalent symptom of the disease, in most cases the pain is located in the lower left quadrant of the abdomen, but can also develop on the adjacent side.  Pain tends to worsen as you move.

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, please consult with your doctor immediately to discuss further diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

If any symptoms persist or intensify, it may suggest that you have developed complications and need urgent medical care.

Prevention

In order to prevent diverticulosis and consequently diverticulitis, try to eat more food rich in fiber and low in fat.  This includes fruit, vegetables and whole grains. You should also drink more water, and reduce stress through regular exercise.

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