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What is Diverticulosis Disease ?

November 22, 2019 | Abigail Mckay

There are an array of gastrointestinal issues that can plague the average person, and it can be frustrating not to understand the varying conditions that may arise. Diverticulosis is one of these conditions that is commonly diagnosed, and it can be reoccurring throughout your lifetime. Therefore, it essential to be well informed, which can help you to recognize the signs and symptoms so that proper treatment can be implemented. Diverticular disease encompasses both diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Diverticula form in the large intestine, mainly in the last segment of the large intestine, close to the rectum. The formation occurs from a weakening of the intestinal wall due to increased pressure from gas or constipation. When viewed on a diagnostic test, the diverticula look like little sacs or convex divots in the large intestine. 


Diverticulosis usually has no symptoms, and most people do not know that they have the condition until a diagnostic test reveals the complication. Typically, a CT scan or colonoscopy can reveal diverticulosis. Some people do experience symptoms from the condition, which include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, abdominal cramping, fever, and chills. If symptoms are evident, diverticulitis, which is characterized by an inflammation of the diverticula, is the most common culprit. If the diverticula, or small pockets, become inflamed or infected, diverticulitis is the assumed diagnosis. Tiny particles of partially digested foods or infectious substances can get trapped in the diverticula, thus leading to infection.  


If diverticulitis does occur, the symptoms alone generally bring the affected individual to the doctor’s office or emergency room at which point treatment will be initiated. The preferred treatment is antibiotics, and the route of antibiotics, whether oral or intravenous, is decided by the severity of the condition. However, sometimes antibiotics are not effective in treating the infection, and surgery may be required to prevent further complications. Complications of untreated or severe diverticulitis include an abscess, perforation, or rectal bleeding. Any of these can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. 


If you are aware that you have diverticulosis, it is essential to understand how to prevent flare-ups and reduce inflammation. First and foremost, having regular bowel movements to avoid constipation should be one of the top preventative measures. Eating 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily, exercising regularly, and staying hydrated are vital components to ensure regular bowel movements. Foods that are high in fiber include whole-grain items, fruit, vegetables, brown rice, and beans. Also, steer clear of foods with seeds or kernels, such as popcorn, corn, and nuts. Many physicians believe that these little pieces of food can get stuck in the diverticula.  

In conclusion, be conscious of what you eat, ensure a high fiber diet, and be vigilant about getting enough water each day. These small dietary changes can make a significant impact on your overall health, and it can also reduce the occurrence of diverticulitis.