A diverticulum is a sac-like bulge in the wall of the colon, the section of the large intestine that extends from the small intestine to the rectum. In rare instances, diverticula are present at birth, but usually they form later in life. Most diverticula occur in the sigmoid colon, the curved part of the large intestine closet to the rectum.
Diverticulosis: is the presence of many diverticula along the bowel wall; this occurs more commonly as people get older and in countries where the diet is generally low in fiber. Data from indicate that more than 50% of adults over the age of 60 have diverticula.
Diverticulitis: is a disease that occurs when small, pouch-like formations develop on the wall of the colon and become infected and inflamed. The pouches, called diverticula, often form with frequent constipation because of the increased pressure needed to force hardened stool through the bowel. Diverticulitus can be acute or chronic and is often painful. Older people are more prone to developing diverculitis due to the natural weakening of the intestinal wall that occurs with aging. Diverticula form in the colon when pressure increases and irritates weakened areas on the colon wall. Diverticula form in the colon when pressure and irritates weakened areas on the colon wall. Diverticulitus occurs when bacteria become trapped in divertiula, causing inflammation. Diverticulitus is seen most often in developed countries where low fiber diets and highly processed foods are common. Stress is also a major contributor to the condition; this inflammation may be local, confined to the area of the diverticulum, or may become more widespread to include the abdominal lining (peritoneum), called peritonitis. Small (microscopic) or large perforations (holes in the bowel wall) occur in 15% to 20% of persons who have diverticula. Often diverticula causes no symptoms, although a person may experience some irregularities in bowel habits. If symptoms do appear, they may include the following: Abdominal pain, especially pain low on the left side of the abdomen after a meal with tenderness, cramping and swelling: Either painless rectal bleeding or passing of blood in stool may occur; Fever; chills; diarrhea or constipation; gas; bloating; loss of appetite and nausea; Vomiting; irregular bowel movements including constipation or diarrhea and gas.
Some people with diverticulitis develop fistulas, or abnormal passageways from the intestines into the abdomen or to another organ such as the bladder. This may lead to urinary tract infection, gas in urine, pain while urinating, or a more frequent need to urinate.
Severe diverticulitis can cause a perforation in the intestinal wall, which may lead to an abscess. Symptoms: cramping pain, tenderness in the left side of the abdomen, rigidity in the abdomen, severe abdominal pain, nausea, constipation fever, and passage of blood in stool.
Some people develop peritonitis, an inflammation of the lining of the abdomen. Symptoms of peritonitis may include sudden abdominal pain, muscle spasms, guarding (involuntary contraction of muscles to protect the affected area), and possibly sepsis, the term for an infection that spread in the blood.
The cause of diverticular disease is not certain, but several factors may contribute to changes in the wall of the colon. These include aging, the movement of waste through the colon, changes in intestinal pressure, a low-fiber diet, and anatomic defects. Factors that increase the risk for developing diverticular disease: Low fiber diet; Advanced age, Obesity; Male gender, for diverticulits; High fat intake, Lack of regular physical activity.
POSSIBLE LIFESTYLE CHANGES HELP AND RECOMMENDATIONS
– The best way to prevent and control diverticulitis is to consume 15 g of high fiber food per day (This helps stools move through the intestines and helps maintain proper pressure in the colon), low-carbohydrate diet and drink plenty of water.
-Exercise may help prevent and alleviate symptoms. Obesity may be associated with increased severity of diverticular disease. Studies are yet to be conducted to determine if weight loss decreases signs and symptoms of diverticular disease in patients who are overweight. Physical activity, specifically jogging or running, has been reported to protect against symptomatic diverticular disease. While the reason for its positive effect is not known, exercise is associated with reduced symptoms of other disease of the colon.
– If you have diverticula, avoid foods such as seeds that may block the opening of a diverticulum and lead to inflammation.
– Apply a heating pad to the abdomen and use an over-the-counter pain reliever to ease cramping and pain. In one study participants completed interviews and food questionnaires, the following foods were associated with a decreased likelihood of having diverticular disease: cucumber, lettuce, spinach, and brown bread. Beef and lamb were associated with an increased risk of having diverticular disease.
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