What is Diverticular Disease?
Diverticula are small out pouches that protrude on the outside of the colon in areas where the muscles of the colon are relatively weak. They can be seen on certain imaging scans of your abdomen and during a colonoscopy. On a colonoscopy photo, they can give your colon a “swiss cheese appearance.” Diverticulosis is quite common and is seen in about 40% of people. The risk of diverticulosis increases as we age.
Is there a difference between Diverticlosis and Diverticulitis?
Yes! Diverticulosis just describes the presence of diverticula. Most people with diverticulosis will never have symptoms from their diverticula and will most likely not even know they are there! However, diverticulitis is a bit different. Diverticulitis means that the small pouches get inflamed. This can happen when small particles like stool get stuck inside one of the pouches.
What does Diverticulitis feel like?
Most commonly, people will experience intermittent pain on the lower portions of their abdomen. Sometimes, they can also experience constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting with their pain.
How can I treat Diverticulitis?
The treatment depends on how bad our symptoms are. If you are having mild symptoms such as mild pain, low grade fevers, usually you can treat your symptoms at home with clear liquid diet and antibiotics. However, if you start having a temperature greater than 100.1°F, worsening abdominal pain, or inability to tolerate fluids, you should seek immediate medical care and possibly go to the emergency room. If you get admitted to the hospital, sometimes you will need some antibiotics through your veins (IV) for a few days. In some cases, if diverticulitis is severe enough or becomes complicated with abscesses, fistulas, sepsis or perforations, you may need surgery
How I can I prevent complications from Diverticulosis?
While there is not an actual treatment, most physicians agree that a high fiber diet is a good way to prevent further diverticula from developing and your current diverticula from getting worse. You can increase the amount of fiber you take into your diet or try over the counter fiber supplements.
Do I have to stop eating nuts and seeds?
In the past, patients with diverticular disease have been advised to avoid seeds and nuts due to concern that they could provoke an episode of diverticulosis. However, this has been unproven and we recommend eating a high fiber diet with no need to avoid seeds, corn or nuts.