What is Diverticulitis?

The colon is an organ which can be affected by a number of conditions. Diverticulitis is one such condition which is associated with pain in the abdomen region and also fever.

Colon diverticulitis is preceded by a condition known as colon diverticulosis wherein small pouches (referred to as diverticula) form in the large intestine. Such pouches may be present since birth (congenital) or may develop at some later stages of life.

diverticulitisThe pouches or diverticula are generally not associated with any symptoms until they get infected or inflamed. This condition is referred to as colon diverticulitis and is commonly noted in adults above the age of 40 years.

What Should You Know About Colon Diverticulitis?

This condition can sometimes cause severe symptoms such as unbearable pain, severe infections, formation of fistula (connection/passage between tissues) in the colon, blocks in the colon and also rupture of the colon. Early diagnosis and prompt care is required to prevent such complications.

How Is It Caused?

The exact reason for the occurrence of this disease is not known. However, one of the major proposed factors is the lack of fiber content in the diet one consumes. Fiber generally adds bulk to the stool and enables easier clearance.

Lack of fiber can result in constipation which leads to collection of stool and thereby increases the risk of collection of bacteria within the pouches. Once this occurs the pouches within the large intestine get infected leading to symptoms appearing.

Are You At Risk?

You are at risk of developing this condition if:

What Are The Symptoms Of Diverticulitis?

This disease is generally associated with fever and abdominal pain. The pain is usually felt in the left lower region of the abdomen and is sometimes quite severe. In other cases there may be a mild nagging pain that region.

The abdomen may be painful to touch and you may also have vomiting sensation, constipation or diarrhea. In some instances diverticulitis may also be associated with bloating (fullness in the abdomen), bloody stools, vomiting, and pain or difficulty while urinating.

How Is Diverticulitis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of this condition is based on a review of the signs and symptoms, physical examination, and certain specialized diagnostic tests. During physical examination the doctor may feel your abdomen to check for the location of the pain. Some of the diagnostic tests advised include:

Other tests such as stool test (for detection of blood), barium enema (wherein a liquid containing barium is introduced into the large intestine followed by X-ray of the abdomen), and colonoscopy (a tube like device with camera used to view the large intestine) may also be advised in some instances.

What Is The Treatment For Diverticulitis?

The treatment is based on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may require you to take some medications (antibiotics generally, some pain killers may also be advised), modify the diet and take rest for few days at home.

Hospitalization is required for moderate to severe cases for administration of medications through the vein and/or surgical removal of the infected or bleeding portion of the colon.

Tips For Prevention Of Colon Diverticulitis

Here are a few tips to minimize your chance of developing this condition:

For more information, see www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diverticulosisanddiverticulitis.html

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