Diverticulitis is a condition that is characterized by pouches that form in the colon that are infected or inflamed. There is no known cause for the condition, but a low fiber diet is thought to contribute to it. A diet that is low in fiber will cause the colon to work harder than it should have to, and this may be what causes the pouches to form.
When there are bacteria in the pouches, diverticulitis is the result. The symptoms of diverticulitis can be extremely painful. The pain is felt in the lower left side of the stomach most often and it is made worse through movement. Fever and chills accompany the pain along with bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, vomiting, and a disinterest in eating or food.
Blood tests will most likely be ordered to determine if there is an infection in your colon based on the symptoms you describe to the doctor. A colonoscopy, CT scan or X-ray may also be performed to diagnose diverticulitis. The treatment that you will be prescribed by your doctor will be an antibiotic for the infection and Tylenol or acetaminophen for your pain. Usually bed rest or relaxation is recommended until the pain diminishes.
Prevention is your best approach to diverticulitis. Eat a diet that is rich in fiber and that includes fruits and vegetables along with whole grains. The diet will help you to prevent the formation of the pouches in the colon that allows bacteria to collect and cause the pain of diverticulitis.
In some cases the doctor will perform surgery to remove the diseased part of the colon. This treatment is only used when there have been repeated attacks of the condition; repeated attacks can be as few as two severe attacks. Surgery will also be performed if there is a blockage of the colon, bleeding in the colon, if there is an opening between the colon and the organ that is next to it such as the bladder, vagina or uterus. If there are signs of cancer, surgery will also be performed for your diverticulitis.
Surgery is not a common approach to the problem though and it can normally be controlled with diet and exercise. Keeping your digestive system functioning properly with a good diet that is high in fiber and low in fat along with regular exercise will help to prevent the disease from occurring.
Call your doctor if you have pain in your abdomen that appears to be localized in one spot, along with fever and chills, nausea, vomiting, blood in the stool, abdominal swelling, severe pain, burning during urination, or an abnormal vaginal discharge.
When diverticulitis is mild, it may heal on its own. In most cases, a patient can be treated with antibiotics and a liquid diet until the inflammation or infection is cleared up. Most people never have a second case of diverticulitis, but those who do have a second attack will have it within the first year. If the symptoms of the disease are severe, it may be necessary to be treated in the hospital with intravenous antibiotics and liquids.
Maintaining a healthy diet is the best way to take care of your digestive system and make sure that you don’t suffer from diverticulitis and other issues. Many people eat an unhealthy diet that is full of quick processed foods and fail to include a healthy amount of fiber in their diet. Foods like fruits and vegetables along with whole grains that are not processed are best for a high fiber diet. While there is no known cause for diverticulitis, there is a strong possibility that a diet that is low in fiber is a contributing factor to this painful condition.
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