What is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is a form of colitis which is an inflammatory bowel disease that can be serious and require surgery if it is not caught quickly and then treated this condition usually happens when small, pouch-like structures called diverticula form in the digestive tract and when they are in the digestive tract they are known as diverticulosis and the small pouch-like structures become inflamed and infected.
When the small pouch-like structures is formed they are usually harmless and they usually do not present any symptoms. Medical researchers have concluded that people with diverticulosis go on to develop diverticulitis so it is crucial to ensure that you follow the right procedure to prevent it from occurring or if you have it to ease the symptoms and manage it.
What Causes Diverticulitis to Form
When the muscles of the colon especially the sigmoid colon are weak an inner soft layer of the intestine passes through the outer muscular layer and that forms diverticula which are marble sized pockets no scientist has a clue why they usually form but there are some factors that people associate are some of the reasons
These are some of the reasons;
People who have a body mass index of thirty and above are known as obese and this has been linked to one of the reasons people develop this disease
People who are at risk are the ones who overindulge in red meat and they do not go for leaner varieties such as turkey, skinless chicken, boneless and fish
There are people who do not like exercising or exercising running even if is to jog or walk each day are at a higher risk of developing this disease
Why it Progresses from Diverticula to Diverticulitis
Researchers have not been able to pinpoint why the diverticula get inflamed and infected but there are some theories that border along the truth and they include; When there is increase in the pressure in the colon area which is commonly caused by things like digestive problems such as indigestion and constipation it can lead to tears in the wall of a diverticulum and when the wall of the colon becomes weak the bacteria and fecal matter present in that area can get stuck in the diverticulum and that will cause inflammation and infections
There are some researches who claimed that people who have diverticulosis should not to eat nuts, seeds, or popcorn because they thought that these things would block the openings of the diverticula and that could lead to inflammation and then cause diverticulitis
There are also some factors which have been said to increase the chance of people developing diverticulitis and they include; decrease levels of serotonin in the brain, people who are above forty years have a likelihood of developing it, smoking, genetics and there are also some drugs which have been linked for increasing the risk of developing diverticulitis such as steroids and opiates
Researchers have suggested that people who eat a low fiber diet have an increased link to developing this disease.
These are the symptoms that act as a warning sign that you have developed diverticulitis. They include; Abdominal pain or tenderness, change in bowel habits, chills, nausea and vomiting, frequent urination, constipation, bloating, fever, rectal bleeding.
Diverticulitis causes a sharp pain in the lower left abdomen and that is the location where the sigmoid colon is. The pain can occur frequently and may increase as the day’s progress and might also fluctuate in the level of intensity which will depend on the level of infection and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
When the infection is severe these are some of the symptoms one may experience they include; low blood pressure, inability to tolerate fluids, severe abdominal pain, and fever of over 38 degrees Celsius.
The medical practitioners can be able to diagnose this through the following ways; they first gather information about your full medical history and that includes all preexisting conditions and risk factors then they examine your abdomen to check for tenderness and perform a rectal exam to check for rectal bleeding and then do a blood test to check whether your white blood cells are there and determine if you have an infection in your system then order for an x-ray imaging to see the get a clear picture of your colon which will help them determine if diverticula is present and if it is they check whether or not they are inflamed or infected
There are some tests which doctors can use to diagnose diverticulitis and they include; A CT scan which uses both X-rays and computer technology and it helps to create a three-dimensional image of your colon this is a commonly used test to confirm a diverticulitis presence. A barium enema is an x-ray exam where a liquid containing the barium element is injected into the colon area and it coats the lining of the intestines to provide a clear image that can be taken. The abdominal x-ray is used by the doctor to show a clear imaging of your abdomen to be able to diagnose diverticulitis. In a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum and at the tip, it has a camera which lets the doctors be able to view the inside of the colon area and that can help them determine whether there is a presence of diverticula and if the colon area is infected. The ultrasound and MRI machine are not commonly used because it is a bit pricey but it can be used in the diagnosing the presence of diverticulitis
These are some of the methods that diverticulitis can be treated and does not involve surgery they are; Over-the-counter pain medicines like acetaminophen a clear liquid diet and antibiotics such as metronidazole, trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole, ciprofloxacin, amoxicillin, clavulanate and the symptoms usually clear up after 48 to 72 hours and a follow up visit is recommended to ensure that the disease has cleared up.
Medicines that are a bit strong are not recommended because it can increase the pressure in the colon area.
What is the Clear Liquid Diet?
Clear Liquid Diet
Your doctor might prescribe this diet because it helps to relieve the diverticulitis symptoms prescribe it for a short period of time. A clear liquid diet usually consists of: water ice, chips ice, pops with frozen fruit puree or pieces of finely chopped fruit soup broth or stock gelatin (such as Jell-O)tea or coffee without any creams, flavors, or sweeteners clear electrolyte drinks
Low Fiber Diet
People should consider eating low fiber diets especially when you develop diverticulitis symptoms and they include; white rice, white bread, or white pasta but you should be very careful especially if you are intolerant to gluten products. Dry, low-fiber cereals, processed fruits such as applesauce or canned peaches cooked animal proteins such as fish, poultry, or eggs, olive oil or other oils, yellow squash, zucchini, or pumpkin whether peeled and seeds have been removed or cooked, spinach that has been cooked, beets, carrots, or asparagus, potatoes with no skin, fruit and vegetable juices
Doctors will always advise you to implement a high fiber diet
This is a type of carbohydrates that are found in plant-based foods and why people love it is because while many carbohydrates break down into sugar the fibre stays intact as it passes through the digestive system and it will make you feel fuller for long and takes a slow time to be absorbed into your bloodstream and also helps in regulating blood sugar levels . The whole food carbohydrate sources they all contain natural fiber and they are fruits, legumes, whole grains and starchy vegetables
Prevent/Control your Diverticular Disease: Steps to Take
Have to enjoy a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of foods.
Ensure that you eat plenty of high fiber foods especially the recommended amount of fiber
Fibre found in fruits and vegetables may prevent diverticula from forming and may make symptoms of diverticular disease less severe and you should ensure that you get 7 to 10 servings a day of vegetables and fruits to help you get enough fiber.
There are other foods that are high in fiber content include: whole grain and bran cereals, whole grain bread, crackers and noodles, brown rice, and lentils and dried beans.
Ensure that you add high fiber foods slowly and a little at a time because adding too much fiber all at once may cause gas and cramping.
Drink 6 to 8 cups of water daily because fiber tends to draw water into your stools to keep them soft, bulky and helps them pass easily. Without liquids in your system fiber does not work properly.
It is was always recommended that people with the diverticular disease to avoid seeds, nuts, corn, popcorn, and tomatoes, but there is no concrete evidence that supports this theory
If you love to include red meat in your diet ensure that you eat it in small portions, but also try other choices like fish, poultry, tofu, lentils and dried peas and beans.
Exercise regularly especially intense exercises such as running or jogging, combined with a high fiber diet it may help to reduce the risk of diverticulitis
Thomas Matthys a former world-class track & field athlete and the founder of Swol Headquarters. He graduated from the University of Fordham with a Master’s degree in Science. Matthys is a certified sports nutritionist and personal coach of several professional athletes. Matthys has been involved in various clinical studies within Track & Field including one on the factors associated with muscle recovery and HIIT.