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What is Diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis is a common condition diagnosed when small pouches called “Diverticula” are found in the wall of the colon. Diverticula are caused when pressure, such as that caused by constipation, builds up inside the intestine and makes the intestinal wall bulge out in spots where the wall may be weak. Usually there are no symptoms. However, occasionally mild pain or discomfort may occur, commonly on the left lower side of the abdomen where most diverticula are found. These symptoms, or any significant changes in bowel habits or bleeding, should be reported to your physician.
Is Diverticulosis Serious?
Not usually. Most patients that have diverticulosis do not have any symptoms. The diverticula that form in the wall of the colon do not usually cause any problems and can only be detected by a medical examination.
Diverticulitis occurs when one or more of the Diverticula become inflamed or infected. Symptoms can include pain and tenderness, severe at times, most commonly on the lower left side of the abdomen, a change in bowel function (constipation or diarrhea), fever or blood in the stool. If left untreated, this can get worse and have serious implications.
Is Diverticulitis Serious?
Generally, diverticulitis can be treated with antibiotics and resting your bowel temporarily. In more serious cases, surgery may be required. If any of these symptoms or any other significant change in your bowel habits or bleeding occur, you should be seen by a physician.
How is it Treated?
The key to managing diverticular disease is avoiding constipation. First, evaluate your diet. Ensuring a high level of fiber is important to maintain regularity. You should also try to eliminate some foods and beverages that can constipate you, like fatty foods. Second, ensure you are drinking 8 glasses of water (or other fluids) every day. Third, you should exercise regularly. Additionally, try to develop good bowel habits, get into a routine and ensure you have plenty of quiet time to spend in the bathroom. If symptoms flare up, consult your physician.
Are You Alone?
No! About half of all North-Americans aged 60-80, and most people over age 80, have diverticular disease.
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