Diverticulitis is a condition characterized by the inflammation or infection of small pouches called diverticula that develop in the lining of the colon or large intestine. These pouches typically form as a result of increased pressure on the intestinal walls, leading to the protrusion of the inner lining through weak spots in the outer muscular layer.
Here's a breakdown of the key aspects of diverticulitis:
The exact cause of diverticulosis is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a low-fiber diet. A low-fiber diet can cause hard, dry stools, which can put pressure on the colon and weaken the walls of the intestine. This can lead to the formation of diverticula.
Other risk factors for diverticulitis include:
Diverticulosis is more common in people over the age of 40.
Diverticulosis is more common in white people than in black people.
Smoking increases the risk of developing diverticulosis.
Obesity increases the risk of developing diverticulosis.
Physical inactivity increases the risk of developing diverticulosis.
Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids increases the risk of developing diverticulosis.
The symptoms of diverticulitis can vary in severity, ranging from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:
The pain is usually located in the lower left side of the abdomen, but it can also be felt in the middle or right side of the abdomen.
A fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is often a sign of a more serious infection.
Nausea and vomiting:
These symptoms can be caused by inflammation or infection of the colon.
Constipation or diarrhea:
A change in bowel habits is often a sign of diverticulitis.
Blood in the stool:
This is a sign of a more serious infection or inflammation.
The most serious complications of diverticulitis are abscesses, fistulas, and perforations.
An abscess is a collection of pus that can form around the infected diverticula.
A fistula is an abnormal connection between two organs or body cavities.
A perforation is a hole in the colon wall.
These complications can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.
To diagnose diverticulitis, a healthcare professional may perform several tests, including:
The doctor will check for tenderness in the abdomen and may perform a rectal examination.
These can help assess the level of inflammation and detect any signs of infection.
CT scan or ultrasound may be used to visualize the colon and identify inflamed or infected diverticula.
In cases where symptoms are mild, treatment may involve rest, a liquid or low-fiber diet, and oral antibiotics to control infection.
Hospitalization may be required for more severe cases. Intravenous antibiotics, bowel rest (nothing by mouth), and potentially drainage of abscesses may be necessary.
Recurrent or complicated diverticulitis:
Surgery may be recommended if there are recurrent episodes, complications such as abscesses or fistulas, or other severe complications such as bowel obstruction or perforation.
The Diverticulitis Foundation:
This organization provides information and support to people with diverticulitis. They offer a variety of resources, including a website, a newsletter, and a support group network.
Diverticulitis Support Group on Facebook:
This group is a private group on Facebook for people with diverticulitis. Members can share their experiences, ask questions, and offer support to each other.
Diverticulitis Support Group on Meetup:
This group is a local support group for people with diverticulitis. Members meet in person to share their experiences, ask questions, and offer support to each other.
Ask your doctor or a trusted healthcare professional for recommendations.
Search online for diverticulitis help and support groups in your area.
Look for groups that are affiliated with reputable organizations, such as the Diverticulitis Foundation.
Attend a few different groups to find one that feels like a good fit for you.