What is Diverticulitis and what are its symptoms?
The colon is the place where the food we eat, ultimately, travels to. Sometimes, one can find that there are small pouches on the walls of the colon. These pouches are called ‘diverticula’.
Diverticulosis describes the presence of these pouches. While this does not carry any symptoms, it can lead to Diverticulitis and other diverticular diseases.
Diverticulitis occurs when these pouches develop a small tear, which is known as a microperforation. Later, these become infected and cause symptoms.
This condition can often lead to belly pain, fever, and difficulty with bowel movements.
How is Diverticulitis tested and treated?
While you may not always need a test in order to be diagnosed, common tests include:
In terms of treatment, this really depends on how severe your symptoms are. If they are mild, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics and put you on a clear liquid diet for a short period of time.
If your symptoms are severe or if you develop a fever, however, you may need to be hospitalised. You will, thereafter, be administered fluids and antibiotics through a tube to your veins. This is to prevent any eating or drinking until you recover. Your doctor might even insert a tube into your stomach to drain the infection. In severe cases, patients might need surgery to remove part of the colon that is affected.
A few months after our infection has been healed, you may be required to undergo a colonoscopy.
What can I do to prevent myself from getting sick again?
After recovering from this condition, patients are advised to maintain a high-fibre diet and avoid foods that are high in fat.
In this regard, your diet should ideally include oats, beans, fruits, and other leafy vegetables. If this is not a regular part of your diet, allow your symptoms to pass before you begin your dietary change.
While perforation is a common occurrence in patients with diverticulitis, it can become a very serious medical condition if left untreated. The perforations in the colon could get bigger over time and cause severe abdominal pain and infections.
A diverticulitis attack feels like a sharp pain in the lower left side of the abdomen. This may be followed by other symptoms, like chills.
Bowel movements in patients with diverticulitis are similar to those of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The patient may have alternating experiences of diarrhoea and constipation.
Diverticular perforation can lead to serious complications so it needs to be treated with surgery. The most common procedure used is Hartmann’s procedure, which involves removing the affected part of the colon.
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