Do you experience mild cramps, bloating or constipation, you might be suffering from diverticulitis a common digestive disease. What is diverticulitis? It is a disease characterized by the inflammation of pouches or small sacs or pockets (diverticulosis) within the large intestine wall. It occasionally forms within the small intestine as well.
The severity of diverticulitis symptoms depends on the stage of development of diverticular disease and the affected parts, segment of the colon or severity of inflammation of the diverticula.
About 40% cases of diverticular disease cases has been traced to genetics while the remaining 60% has been traced to environmental causes according to a Wikipedia source. Also, foods poor in fiber content is a risk factor for diverticulitis, so also, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity or sedentary lifestyle.
Diverticulitis develops from changes within the intestines such as high pressure necessitated by intestinal contractions. This pressure can be created by straining when stooling which weakens the intestinal wall thus forming pockets on the intestinal wall.
According to a report from the Harvard Health Publications, about one-third of Americans has been reported to develop diverticulitis by the age of 60 years. Age makes one more susceptible to diverticulitis due to the weakening of the colon wall.
Symptoms of diverticulitis
Diverticulitis symptoms are very similar to other gastrointestinal problems such inflammatory bowel disease and stomach ulcers.
The following are symptoms of diverticulitis:
1. Abdominal pain
Left-lower quadrant abdominal pain is a hallmark of diverticulitis, occasionally it could be right-sided abdominal pain. This may be accompanied by abdominal tenderness, pain and increased white blood cell count.
2. Nausea and vomit
Diverticula constipation may occasionally result in vomiting and loss of appetite.
3. Intestinal bleeding
This is generally a sign of complications. Internal fistulas or intraluminal colonic pressure or intestinal perforation are the causative factors for this development.
4. General discomfort
This is a common symptom of many disorders and diseases. The extent of inflammation of the pouches determines the level of discomfort experienced.
5. Swollen abdomen
This is often presented as a distended belly due to bowel obstruction. This may be complicated by dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities. Complicated bowel obstruction may lead to connection between organs and adjacent anatomical structures.
6. Thin stool
This is characterized by narrowed stool. This is a sign of narrowed colon due to the formation and enlargement of the pockets due to the inflammation.
7. Bloating or flatulence
The colon often loses its digestive ability, intestinal micro-flora is also affected which causes indigestion of protein foods. Also fermentation of carbohydrates may also lead to accumulation of gas which causes abdominal bloating.
8. Rectal bleeding
This is often presented as bright red blood similar to hemorrhoid symptoms. This happens in rare cases. This may be due to fistulas or complication of diverticulitis.
There is a general sickly feeling indicated as malaise. This may be accompanied by increase in body temperature and headaches.
All these symptoms of diverticulitis can be avoided with the correct and well balanced diets coupled with regular exercise.
Diverticulitis is treatable but it has higher chances of returning if you don’t adhere to your dos and don’ts.
Fruits such as pears, apples, oranges, banana, mangos, broccoli, beets, spinach, raspberries, sweet potato with the skin on etc. has been indicated to contain high fiber content which reduces the incidence of diverticulitis and in turn complication of diverticulitis symptoms.