Diverticular disease: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

Diverticular illness is a disorder of the large intestine (colon). It is distinguished by the creation of tiny, bulging sacs or pockets in the colon’s wall known as diverticula. These diverticula can become inflamed or infected, resulting in a variety of symptoms such as stomach discomfort, bloating, and bowel movement abnormalities.

Diverticular illness is classified into two types:

Diverticulosis: is a disorder in which diverticula occur in the colon but are neither inflamed nor diseased. The majority of persons with diverticulosis have no symptoms and do not require treatment.

Diverticulitis: This is an infection or inflammation of the diverticula. Diverticulitis symptoms include stomach discomfort, bloating, and bowel movement alterations. If it is accompanied by an infection, it may also produce fever and chills.

Causes

Diverticular disease’s specific aetiology is unknown, however it is considered to be the consequence of a mix of causes, including:

Low-fiber diet: A low-fiber diet can cause constipation, putting unneeded strain on the colon and increasing the chance of developing diverticula.

Aging: Diverticular disease is more frequent in older people, and the chance of having it rises with age.

Genetics: Some study shows that the development of diverticular disease may have a hereditary component.

Other risk factors for diverticular disease include being overweight or obese, smoking, and taking certain drugs, such as steroids.

Symptoms

Diverticular disease symptoms differ based on the kind of diverticular disease and the severity of the problem. The following are some frequent symptoms of diverticular disease:

  • Abdominal discomfort, usually on the left side
  • Bloating
  • Changes in bowel motions, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Fever and chills if the diverticula are infected
  • Nausea and vomiting

Diverticular illness diagnosis

Diverticular illness is often diagnosed using a combination of physical examination, symptom evaluation, and imaging studies. A healthcare professional would often evaluate the abdomen for indications of diverticula, such as discomfort or swelling, during a physical examination.

The healthcare practitioner may also inquire about particular symptoms such as stomach discomfort, bloating, and bowel movement changes. Additional testing may be required in certain cases to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other illnesses causing similar symptoms, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or colon cancer. Among these tests are:

  • Blood testing: Blood tests can help identify whether the colon is infected or inflammatory.
  • Stool tests: Stool samples can be tested for blood or other abnormalities.
  • Imaging studies: Imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI can aid in the visualization of the colon and any anomalies such as diverticula.
  • Colonoscopy: A flexible tube with a camera on the end is put into the rectum and used to inspect the colon during a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy can assist confirm a diverticular disease diagnosis and identify any problems, like as bleeding or obstructions.

Treatment

Diverticular disease therapy is determined on the kind of diverticular disease and the severity of the problem. Diverticular illness is commonly treated using the following approaches:

Medications: Antibiotics may be used to treat diverticula infections. Abdominal discomfort may be treated with pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Diet: A high-fiber diet may be suggested to assist avoid constipation and lower the risk of future diverticular disease flare-ups.

Surgery: In severe cases of diverticular illness, surgery to remove the infected or damaged part of the colon may be required. If alternative therapies have failed or if the illness is producing significant consequences, such as a perforation (hole) in the colon, surgery may be considered.

Preventing Diverticular Disease

There are various steps you may take to lower your chances of acquiring diverticular disease:

Consume a high-fiber diet: Consuming a high-fiber diet can help avoid constipation, which can place undue strain on the colon and raise the chance of developing diverticula. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are high in fiber.

Stay hydrated: Drinking enough of water can help avoid constipation and improve digestive health.

Regular physical exercise can assist improve bowel motions and lower the risk of constipation.

Quit smoking: Smoking weakens the immune system and increases the risk of illness, especially infections of the colon.

Seek medical attention if you have any digestive symptoms: If you have any digestive symptoms, such as stomach discomfort, bloating, or changes in bowel movements, you should contact a healthcare practitioner for a correct diagnosis and treatment. Ignoring these symptoms may raise your chances of getting diverticular disease or other digestive problems.

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your chances of having diverticular disease. This risk can be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet and frequent physical activity.[1]Diet and diverticular disease (health.qld.gov.au)[2]https://gutscharity.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Guts-UK-Diverticular-Disease-Leaflet.pdf[3]https://aci.health.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/319645/diverticular-disease-ed-patient-factsheet-april-2016.pdf[4]GIS-PIH-DD-2021-11.pdf (badgut.org)[5]Diverticular disease: diagnosis and treatment – PubMed (nih.gov)

Reviewed by:

Dr. Amjad Hayyat

MBBS, FCPS

Medical specialist

Makhdoom medical complex, Sargodha, Pakistan

For our experts information click here

References

References
1Diet and diverticular disease (health.qld.gov.au)
2https://gutscharity.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Guts-UK-Diverticular-Disease-Leaflet.pdf
3https://aci.health.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/319645/diverticular-disease-ed-patient-factsheet-april-2016.pdf
4GIS-PIH-DD-2021-11.pdf (badgut.org)
5Diverticular disease: diagnosis and treatment – PubMed (nih.gov)

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