Diverticulitis: This painful intestinal disease would be the unfortunate result of a lack of fiber in the diet. Most cases of diverticulitis can be treated with medication and rest, and relapses can be prevented through healthy eating.
What diverticulitis is
If you consume a lot of refined and processed foods, and few fruits, vegetables and whole grains, your colon (large intestine) lack a vital element: fiber. Without them, whose action consists in softening the stools, one is often constipated, which increases the pressure in the colon. In the long run, the mucous membrane weakens and small pockets, diverticula, form and swell. This is called diverticulosis, a rather common condition.
Diverticulosis rarely causes problems. Most people do not even know they are suffering from it unless they discover it accidentally during exams done for other reasons. However, it can become worse if food particles are trapped in diverticula and bacteria multiply. Inflammation and infection may then appear; This is called diverticulitis. Characterized by intense abdominal pain that can not be ignored, it manifests itself suddenly, causing a sensation in the lower left part of the abdomen. The infection can cause fever, chills, vomiting, cramps and constipation.
People at risk for diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is more aggressive and more recurrent in young people.
Treatment of diverticulitis
If treated at an early stage, the slight diverticulitis will cure after two or three days; The usual treatment includes an oral antibiotic, rest, a liquid diet to allow the colon to heal, and an analgesic to relieve pain. If you are severely ill or have a more severe infection, the doctor will likely decide to hospitalize you for intravenous fluids and medications. About 20% of those who suffer from frequent relapses will have to undergo surgery to treat intestinal complications. If you experience any of the following symptoms: blood in the stool, high fever at all times, inability to stool, severe abdominal pain or tenderness,
Drugs for diverticulitis
If your symptoms are mild, your doctor will probably prescribe two antibiotics, metronidazole (Flagyl) and a broad-spectrum antibiotic such as ciprofloxactin (Cipro) or amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin). You is likely to be better after a few days, but it is important to continue taking your medication for the prescribed duration.
To relieve the pain caused by diverticulitis, the doctor may advise you to take a pain reliever. If you are bleeding, avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which may affect coagulation. It might be more prudent to take acetaminophen (Tylenol), but you may need something more powerful. Talk to your doctor.
If your symptoms are more severe, you may decide to stay in your hospital for antibiotics, analgesics, and intravenous fluids. You could also be fed intravenously, to give a little rest to your inflamed colon. In most cases, this treatment leads to complete cure.
Changes in Lifestyle
In mild cases of diverticulitis, once you have your medications in hand, the best thing to do is to keep the bed until you get better. Also, watch your diet. At first, you will need to stick to liquids and soft foods. A few days later, the doctor will probably prescribe a diet low in fiber.
After a month, you can switch to a high-fiber diet and start exercising. The doctor will recommend you to drink plenty of water throughout your convalescence.
Interventions for the treatment of diverticulitis
If the medication does not stop your diverticulitis, or if your seizures are severe or frequent, the doctor may recommend surgery. (Particularly if you are under the age of 50 and have experienced a severe crisis). If it is a matter of emptying a small abscess, it will be relatively minor, but for the biggest abscesses or fistulas, or for clearing the intestine, it will be more invasive. In the case of perforation or peritonitis, you will have to undergo an emergency intervention.
The surgeon usually treats complications with a partial colectomy, which involves removing the diseased part of the colon and re-welding the latter. If your inflammation is widespread, you may need to undergo two procedures. During the first, the surgeon will treat the infection in your abdominal cavity, remove the diseased part of your colon and weld the healthy part to a temporary opening in your abdomen. This is called colostomy, or creation of an artificial anus. A pocket attached to the opening collects stools to isolate them from the infected area. Once the inflammation healed, The surgeon performs a second surgery to bend the ends of your colon and close the opening in your abdomen. You will then begin to evacuate your stools regularly.
Diverticular bleeding usually ceases on its own, but your doctor may decide to have a colonoscopy; This procedure involves examining the colon with a long flexible instrument to find the source of the bleeding. If you bleed profusely, the doctor may also have you X-rayed to locate the problem. To treat bleeding that does not stop on their own, vasopressin is sometimes injected, a drug that tightens the arteries. However, since it presents risks, especially for the elderly, the doctor may opt for a partial colectomy.
Questions to ask your doctor
• How long will I be able to resume normal activities?
• Do I have to undergo surgery?
• If I do not tolerate fibers, what can I do to help my digestive tract?
Living with diverticulitis
Here are some tips that will help you better manage your diverticulitis:
- Consult a gastroenterologist rather than a private or general practitioner.
- Avoid enemas. While it is true that they can relieve constipation, they may aggravate the symptoms of diverticulitis.
If you are suffering from diverticulosis or you are recovering from an episode of diverticulitis, your priority will be to keep your colon healthy. Here’s what you can do to get there:
- Increase your fiber intake;
- Eat fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber. Take your five servings daily, raw or cooked and, if possible, unpeeled;
- Do not push back the time to go to the saddle. As soon as you feel the need, go ahead;
- Drink plenty of fluids, at least eight glasses a day of water, juice, and soups. This will facilitate fiber transit through your digestive tract;
- Exercise regularly. Three to five times a week, take a brisk walk, cycle, race or swim, or dance in your living room;
- To treat occasional constipation, take a laxative of ballast, for example, Metamucil, based on psyllium, or FiberCon, based on calcium polycarbophil. Also, take dried fruits: they act naturally as a laxative and are a good source of fiber.