Diverticulitis is a common digestive disease characterized by pouches that develop within the bowel wall. Although its primary cause still remains a mystery, most doctors believe that people who are over 40 and those who eat very little fiber are more susceptible to this disease.
According to statistics, at least half of Americans ages 60 to 80 are suffering from diverticulosis. This condition can be very painful especially when the patient coughs or moves. The pain and discomfort may last from a few hours to a couple of days or more. Diverticulitis is diagnosed with blood tests, CT scan and X-ray.
A diet that has adequate fiber will produce a stool that is bulky and can move easily through the colon. If a diet is low in fiber, the colon must exert more pressure than usual to move the small hard stool.
Medications are often used to stop infection and to control symptoms of diverticulitis. Antibiotics, such as metronidazole and ciprofloxacin are given to treat the infection that triggered the attack. Prescription pain relievers are sometimes needed if over-the-counter pain relievers do not work in relieving the pain.
To date, there are no medications that can prevent future attacks of diverticulitis. As far as prevention is concerned, a diverticulitis patient is advised to incorporate fiber into their diet.
Treatment for diverticulitis focuses on clearing up the infection and inflammation, resting the colon and preventing or minimizing complications. An attack without complications may respond to antibiotics within a few days if treated early.
To help the colon rest, the doctor may recommend bed rest and a liquid diet along with a pain reliever to control muscle spasms in the colon. An acute attack with severe pain or severe infection may require admittance to the hospital.
The antibiotics will be given via injection into a vein. However, if the attacks are frequent and the pain is severe, your doctor may advise you to undergo surgery.
Colon resection is done to remove the affected part of the colon. The remaining sections of the colon will then be rejoined. This surgery is supposed to prevent future bouts of diverticulitis as well as complications. You may also require surgery if you have fistula complications or intestinal obstruction.
If your test results show that you have a large abscess, peritonitis, perforation in the colon and non stop bleeding, an emergency surgery needs to be done. Emergency surgery usually requires two operations: clear the infected abdominal cavity and remove the affected part of the colon, and rejoin the ends of the colon.