Diverticulosis – A Gut Problem That May Go Unnoticed

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Diverticulosis - A gut health issue

Diverticulosis is a condition where small pouches, usually 5 to 10 millimeters in diameter, bulge out of the wall of the colon. These pouches are know as Diverticula. Frequently, this condition seldom causes problems and does not show any symptoms. Thus, it may have gone unnoticed for many people.

Diverticulosis is rather common among the older folks after the age of 40. Because it does not usually exhibit any symptoms, most people will not know about it until symptoms start to appear. Or, when they do a screening exam, such as colonoscopy.

Causes of Diverticulosis

While more study is necessary, doctors think Diverticulosis happens when excess pressure pushes out from inside of the colon. If there are weak spots in the colon, it pushes the weak spots out to form the little pouches.

Constipation usually causes excess pressure. The muscular movement of the colon keeps pushing waste against what is already there thus forming more pressure than normal.

Can lead to Infection

As noted earlier in this article, many people have Diverticulosis and never know it; half of the people over age 60 have it. However in 10% to 20% of the people, the Diverticula become inflamed or infected. This condition is know as Diverticulitis.

It can cause abdominal bloating, pain, tenderness in the lower left abdomen, diarrhea, chills and a low-grade fever. This can eventually lead to tearing of the bowel wall.

Treatment

If the tear happens close to a blood vessel, blood can show up in the stool. While it generally stops on its own, you may need surgery on extreme cases to remove the affected section of colon.

In mild cases of Diverticulitis, antibiotics, rest and diet changes may be enough to clear up symptoms. In serious cases, your doctor may prescribe a clear liquid diet to give the bowels time to heal. You may also need intravenous antibiotics and no food or drink for a few days in a hospital.

Prevention

Usually the remedy is to avoid constipation and thus the build-up of pressure by eating a diet with adequate fiber. This results in stools that easily move through the colon, down to the rectum and out the anus.

If enough fiber is not present, then the stools are hard. It takes more effort for the bowel to move small, harder stools. Also, with constipation, stools stay in the colon longer thus adding to the high pressure.

High fiber foods

High fiber food

A diet with 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily may prevent Diverticula from forming in the first place. This can prevent Diverticulosis which can lead to Diverticulitis.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are all high in fiber. If a certain high fiber food makes symptoms worse, eliminate that food from your diet. Focus on eating other high fiber foods that agree with you.

Also, do not increase your fiber intake all at once. Increase your fiber intake gradually, until it reaches the recommended daily amount. And don’t forget to drink lots of liquids to keep the fiber soft.

By eating a proper diet, you can usually prevent Diverticulosis. Plus a high fiber diet will make bowel movements easier, lessening the occurrence of hemorrhoids or anal fissures.

Diverticulosis - A Gut Problem That May Go Unnoticed