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Diverticulitis - An Overview

Diverticulitis is caused as a result of diverticula - small, bulging pouches that form in the lining of your digestive system. They are found most often in the colon. When these pouches become inflamed or infected they cause a condition named diverticulitis.

Diverticulitis can cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and can also hamper your bowel movements to a great extent.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

Most common signs and symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain is usually felt in the lower left side of the abdomen, but may occur on the right side
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Constipation or, less commonly, diarrhoea
  • Abdominal tenderness

If you have any/some/all of the above symptoms, do seek prompt medical attention.

Risk factors of Diverticulitis

There are a number of factors that can put you at risk of developing diverticulitis such as:

  • Obesity: Serious or morbid obesity may increase your risk of needing more-invasive treatments for diverticulitis.
  • Age: chances of developing diverticulitis increases with age
  • Smoking: Smokers are at a higher risk of developing diverticulitis than non-smokers
  • Lack of exercise: inactivity or lack of physical exercise can increase your risk of diverticulitis
  • Diet high in animal fat and low in fibre
  • Medications such as steroids, opiates and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

Diagnosis of Diverticulitis

Your doctor will first rule out any other possibilities of other problems that might be caused due to the above symptoms. After an initial suspicion of diverticulitis, he/she will run a physical exam in which he may check your abdomen for tenderness. For women in particular, he/she might run a pelvic exam. The following tests will follow:

  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Pregnancy test for women
  • Liver function tests
  • CT scan
  • Stool test

Treatment of Diverticulitis

Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment for diverticulitis can be divided into:

Medication and simple procedures

  • A liquid diet for a few days till your bowel heals
  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen
  • Intravenous antibiotics
  • Insertion of a tube to drain an abscess

Surgery

There are two main types of surgery for diverticulitis:

  • Primary bowel resection
  • Bowel resection with colostomy
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