Diverticulitis is a condition onset by infection or rupture of diverticula, which are bulges forming in the lower part of the large intestine or colon. The risk of developing diverticula is usually higher for people over 40. Diverticula themselves do not cause many problems, but once the condition progresses into diverticulitis, it can be quite severe, leading to pain, nausea, and changes to bowels.
Mild diverticulitis can be easily treated with a proper diet. However, in cases of recurring and severe diverticulitis, surgery may be required.
Weak spots along the bottom of the large intestine can prompt the formation of diverticula. When pressure is added, bulges form. These bulges, or pouches, may protrude through the colon wall. When they burst or get infected, this marks the diagnosis of diverticulitis. It is worth noting that diverticula themselves do not necessarily create symptoms.
Symptoms of diverticulitis flare-ups
Signs and symptoms of diverticulitis include severe pain that may last for days and takes place in the lower left side of the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, fever, abdominal tenderness, constipation, and in some cases diarrhea (a less common symptom).
Complications associated with diverticulitis
There are a few factors, aside from age, that can contribute to one’s risk of developing diverticulitis. They are:
- Obesity– surgery as a treatment is more prevalent among severely overweight patients.
- Smoking– smokers are at higher risk of diverticulitis, compared to non-smokers.
- Lack of exercise– vigorous exercise has been shown to reduce one’s risk of diverticulitis.
- Diet– foods that are low in animal fat and high in fiber are recommended for lowering the risk of diverticulitis.
- Certain medications– steroids, opiates, and common over-the-counter pain relievers may all increase your risk of diverticulitis.
Complications that can arise from diverticulitis include the development of an abscess, a blockage of the colon or small intestine, the formation of fistulas, and peritonitis – if the inflamed pouches rupture spilling intestinal contents into the abdomen.