At GIDOCJHB, we know that patients want to know as much as they can about the GI system and disorders that affect their daily lives.
You don’t have to suffer through digestive problems alone.
Dr. Schneider provides personalised support and patient care using the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available.
With striving to provide the highest quality of care for all patients, we are actively involved in clinical research for people diagnosed with Diverticulitis.
Our goal at GIDOCJHB is to provide specialised individual treatment, improved quality of life, and provide superior care for people suffering from Diverticulitis.
What is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis can be a painful condition in which small pouches that are inflamed or infected bulge out from the colon (the lower part of the large intestine).
The pouches are often described as looking like small thumbs poking out of the side of the intestine.
Difference Between Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
Diverticulosis refers to the presence of these tiny bulges or pockets (diverticula) in your colon.
Usually, they don’t cause any symptoms or need to be treated. However, diverticulosis can lead to diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis begins with diverticulosis and is initiated by the thinning of the wall of the diverticulum, or pouch, followed by a perforation that is then walled off by an inflammatory response.
Due to this happening, this inflammation results in moderate to severe pain, fever, and general discomfort.
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Causes and Risk Factors of Diverticulitis
It is not fully understood why diverticulitis occurs or what may be the trigger.
It is believed among many gastroenterologists that a low fiber diet may be the cause, among genetic and environmental factors, but this has not yet been proven.
Risk factors include:
- Are over 40 years of age
- Are male
- Are overweight
- Eat a low-fiber diet.
- Eat a diet high in fat and red meat
- Not exercising regularly
Signs and Symptoms of Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis can cause symptoms ranging from only mild pain for most people, to severe pain if not managed correctly.
These symptoms can appear momentarily or they can develop gradually over a period of days.
Potential symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain usually felt on the left side (most common symptom)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Blood in your stool
- Rectal bleeding
If you develop any serious symptoms, such as vomiting or blood in your stool, it may be a sign of a more serious problem and it’s recommended to call your doctor immediately.
To diagnose diverticulitis, your gastroenterologist will likely ask you about your symptoms, health history, and any medications that you take.
They’ll likely also perform a physical exam to check your abdomen for tenderness. Your GI may also perform some of the following tests:
- X-rays – to assess for complications from diverticulitis.
- Digital rectal exam – To identify if you have any problems in the anus or rectal area.
- Colonoscopy – to examine the inside of your GI tract
- A stool sample – This will check for infections
- CT scan – A CT scan is one of the best ways to diagnose diverticulitis. It can also help identify the severity of diverticulitis and guide treatment better.
- Urine test – to check for infections
- Blood tests – to check for signs of inflammation, anemia, or kidney or liver problems
- Pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy in women
Immediate treatment for diverticulitis is crucial as infection can cause harmful complications.
The treatment for diverticulitis depends on your current condition and may include:
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Small to mild diverticulitis symptoms can often be treated by an individual with or without medication (recommended by your gastroenterologist).
People with diverticulosis who do not have symptoms do not require treatment. However, most gastroenterologists recommend increasing fiber in the diet, which can help to bulk the stools and possibly prevent the development of new diverticula, diverticulitis, or diverticular bleeding.
Fiber is not proven to prevent these conditions in all patients but may help to control recurrent episodes in some.
Medicine like antibiotics is usually prescribed to treat or prevent infections, prevent side effects, or soften the stool. Antibiotics can usually be taken as pills at home.
If you have severe pain or an infection, though, you may need to be treated in a hospital so antibiotics can be given intravenously (into a vein).
Moderate-to-severe diverticulitis may require bed rest and a liquid diet to help the large intestine recover.
The selection of the most appropriate surgical option is best made in consultation with your gastroenterologist.
If you have an abscess, for example, drainage or surgery may be needed to clean out the infection.
Colon resection may also be done, which is surgery to remove the section of the colon that contains the diverticulitis and where the healthy ends of the intestine are sewn back together
The choice depends on the extent of the problem and your overall health.
DOs and DON’Ts in Managing Diverticulitis:
- DO take medicines as prescribed by your gastroenterologist
- DO eat a diet that is high in fiber, low in salt, and low in fat to avoid constipation. This will reduce your chances of getting diverticulitis
- DO drink plenty of water
- DO exercise regularly
- DO maintain your correct weight. and try to lose weight if you’re overweight
- DO maintain good bowel habits by trying to have a bowel movement daily
- DO call your gastroenterologist or hospital if you have blood in your stool or if your stools are dark
- DO call your gastroenterologist or hospital if abdominal pain becomes to difficult to manage
- DO call your gastroenterologist or hospital if you get any severe symptoms
- DON’T strain with bowel movements
- DON’T use laxatives
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.