Diverticulitis occurs where there are small sacs or bulging pouches in the lining of your intestine and these become infected or inflamed. The pouches can also exist on your large intestine, also known as your colon, but most often occur with your small intestine.. This can cause a variety of side effects including extreme pain and discomfort, digestive problems, and bowel dysfunction. A variety of things may lead to diverticulitis including malnutrition and poor diet to a disturbance from an illness or even genetics.

Causes of Diverticulitis

There is so single cause of diverticulitis though some people have a higher risk of developing the condition, such as people eating a consistent low-fiber diet. Many people with diverticulitis eat a lot of processed foods as well, such as white bread, white rice, crackers, pretzels and breakfast cereals. This type of eating can lead to hard stools and constipation which result in straining. Straining causes pressure in the colon or intestines which in some cases, lead to the pouches forming that are common in diverticulitis.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

Many people with diverticulosis, which occurs before diverticulitis, won’t experience many symptoms. When do have symptoms, they are nonspecific like cramping or bloating, and possible blood in the stool. However diverticulitis is a more serious condition and includes more specific tenderness and pain in the lower abdomen, bloating and gas, fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

Diagnosing Diverticulitis

If your doctor is concerned that you might have diverticulitis, such as having a combination of the above signs and symptoms, a variety of tests will be ordered to diagnose the condition. A physical examination is typically the first step to diagnose which is followed by a variety of tests including an ultrasound of the abdomen, CT scan and x-rays of the abdomen. Blood tests may also be part of the diagnosis process, especially if the doctor wants to find out if you have an infection from the diverticulitis.

Treating Diverticulitis

Your severity of symptoms will determine what course of treatment your doctor chooses. Some people are able to treat diverticulitis at home while others will need a short or long hospital stay, especially those who need surgery. Some ways to relive the pain include resting in bed and using a heating pad on your abdomen, taking pain medications prescribed or over-the-counter that your doctor recommends, and drinking plenty of fluids. In the beginning of treatment, you will be directed to only drink water, followed by thicker liquids and then eating solid foods after several days. Antibiotics, a change in diet and lifestyle, and surgery are additional treatment options for diverticulitis. Most people with a mild case of diverticulitis will have a smooth recovery. Some people with more serious cases of the condition will need surgery and a longer hospital stay.

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