Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are common disorders that often affect the colon. Diverticulosis occurs when bulges and pouches develop in the digestive tract. More than 60 percent of people over the age of 80 may have diverticulosis. These intestinal pouches can trap food and become inflamed. The term diverticulitis is used when an infection occurs. This infection is rare, but very serious.
Age is a risk factor. Diverticular disease occurs more often in people over the age of 40. Not eating enough fiber, being obese, and avoiding exercise also increases your risk.
Symptoms that indicate you may have a diverticular disorder include abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, fever, change in stool appearance, and bloody stool. The pain is often located in the left side of the lower abdomen. If untreated, complication of diverticulitis includes severe infection, abscess, and intestinal blockage.
If you have any of these symptoms, please visit your physician. Be prepared to share the details of your symptoms: how they started, how long you’ve experienced them, any changes in medications or diet, and all other related symptoms. Sometimes radiological testing such as a CT scan may be required. Changes to your food choices, lifestyle, and prescription medications can help relieve your pain. Initially, you may need to start a soft or even liquid diet. When diverticulitis becomes severe and complicated, you may be hospitalized and treated with intravenous antibiotics. Some people may need to undergo surgery to correct serious intestinal abnormalities.
After your symptoms and pain improve, a high-fiber diet and regular exercise is very important to keep flare-ups to a minimum.