Diverticulitis occurs when small sacs or pouches that form in your colon become infected with bacteria.
Many times you won’t know you have diverticulosis, because you don’t experience any symptom. Diverticulitis, on the other hand, can be extremely painful. The older you are, the more at risk you are for diverticulitis. Symptoms may include:
The most common symptom is belly pain, which can often times be severe.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes diverticulitis, but they suspect it has something to do with eating a low-fiber diet. Without fiber, your body can’t add bulk to your stool, and the colon has to work harder to move it through your system. That pressure may cause sacs to form in weak spots along the colon.
Your doctor will likely talk to you about your symptoms and do a physical exam. You may also have additional tests to see if you have an infection or rule out other problems. Those tests might include bloodwork, an X-ray, CT scan or colonoscopy.
Treatment of diverticulitis depends on the severity of your symptoms. If the pain is minimal and you are able to drink liquids, you may take medicine and make changes to your diet until the pain goes away.
If the pain is severe, and you can’t drink liquids and/or you have complications like an abscess, perforation or bowel obstruction, you may need surgery or a hospital stay to get intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition.
After you’ve had an attack of diverticulitis, it’s important to focus your efforts on preventing another one. Increase the amount of fiber in your diet by adding fruits, vegetables, wheat bran and possibly a fiber supplement.
Be sure to get plenty of water each day, and check in with your Mercy doctor regularly.