Diverticulitis involves the formation of pouches in the colon wall that become infected or inflamed. This condition can cause intense pain. Doctors are not certain what causes the formation of these pouches but it is believed that a diet low in fiber has a role.
The lack of fiber in the diet causes the colon to strain harder than normal to drive the stool forward. The pressure required can cause the formation of pouches in weakened areas throughout the colon. Once bacteria grow in these pouches, it can lead to infection or inflammation.
The signs and symptoms of diverticulitis can last for a few hours up to a week or longer.
- Abdominal pain, usually in the lower left side that is aggravated by movement.
- Gas and bloating
- Fever and chills
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite loss
Management of diverticulitis
The treatment for diverticulitis usually depends on the severity of the symptoms. The individual might only require fluids initially and later return to a solid diet if he/she starts to feel better. The doctor might also provide pain medications and antibiotics.
For minor cramping and pain:
- Place a heating pad over the belly
- Adequate rest
- Use medications such as acetaminophen.
Surgery is only required if diverticulitis does not settle with these treatment measures or if the individual has issues such as chronic pain, fistula or bowel obstruction.
Diverticulitis can be prevented by drinking plenty of fluids, exercising regularly and eating a high-fiber diet. Remember that a high-fiber diet includes fresh fruits, whole grains and vegetables.