Diverticulitis Symptoms: A low fiber diet is usually responsible for the formation in the intestine of small sachets called diverticula.
It affects the colon, the part of the large intestine that removes waste from the body, and is also known as diverticular disease, which is made up of two conditions: diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Both are much more frequent in older people.
Diverticulitis Symptoms: What is diverticulitis?
Diverticula are small, bulging pockets that can form on the lining of the digestive system. They are usually found in the lower part of the large intestine (colon). Diverticula are common, especially from the age of 40, and in up to 75% of cases there are no complications. However, sometimes one or more of the bags mentioned above become inflamed or infected. This disorder is known as diverticulitis.
This disease causes severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and produces a change in bowel habits. It usually appears after the age of 40 and generally has a good prognosis and can be treated with rest, drugs and change of habits. Diverticulitis Symptoms.
Diverticulitis Symptoms: Causes of diverticulitis
Low fiber diet
The main cause in the formation of diverticula is still unknown. But following a low fiber diet can contribute to the development of these “sacks”. Adequate fiber intake, along with good hydration, helps soften the stool, facilitating your intestinal passage. Low fiber intake can cause problems such as constipation, requiring more pressure from the patient to pass the stool. Therefore, this increased pressure in the colon can lead to the development of diverticula.
Other influencing factors are aging, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise. In addition, a low fiber diet, combined with high consumption of animal fats and some medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, favor the development of diverticula.
These sacs or bags appear at weak points in the digestive tract, usually in the colon, and protrude through the wall. Diverticulitis occurs when a diverticulum tears, leading to inflammation or infection, or both. Diverticulitis Symptoms.
Abdominal tenderness and pain
The main symptom of diverticulitis is constant pain for several days in the abdomen; mainly in the lower left part of the abdomen.
Other signs are:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal tenderness.
- Constipation or diarrhea; the latter is less frequent.
Possible complications of diverticulitis if not treated early can be:
- Abscesses due to accumulation of pus in the diverticula.
- Formation of an intestinal obstruction.
- The formation of a fistula or duct between sections of the intestines or between the intestines and the bladder.
- A peritonitis. Peritonitis is the rupture of a diverticulum that spills its contents into the intestinal cavity.
It is a medical emergency. If it occurs, you should immediately go to hospital emergencies. Diverticulitis Symptoms.
Diagnosis of diverticulitis
Various analysis and imaging tests
The diagnosis of diverticulitis usually occurs after the manifestation of an acute attack of abdominal pain. To confirm a case, it is essential to do a physical exam to check abdominal tenderness and a pelvic exam in the case of women, to rule out pelvic disease.
The doctor will start with the patient’s medical history and can subsequently request tests such as blood tests, detection of occult blood in stool, digital rectal examination and abdominal palpation. Similarly, you can prescribe an X-ray with an opaque enema, or better yet, by a colonoscopy. One of the most used tests is CT (Computed Tomography), since it allows differential diagnosis with appendicitis, for example. Ultrasound is also another tool, which together with CT, facilitate more reliable diagnoses. Diverticulitis Symptoms.
See also: “Diverticulitis Treatment“
Regular physical exercise, a diet rich in fiber and hydration
The guideline for the prevention of diverticulitis is marked by moderate and regular physical activity (30 minutes) every day. As a result, we favor intestinal transit and reduce pressure, especially within the colon. It is also key to take a diet rich in fiber like whole wheat bread; fruits, vegetables and greens; and drink plenty of fluids. It is key to manage to soften the fecal waste to facilitate and accelerate its motility through the colon.
In addition, you should drink a lot of liquid to promote fiber absorption and create a soft and bulky stool in the colon as well as avoid constipation. Diverticulitis Symptoms.