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Diverticulitis is small, bulging pouches that often occur in the lining of a person’s digestive system. They are frequently detected in the bottom portion of the large intestine (colon). The occurrence of diverticula is sometimes referred to as diverticulosis.

Diverticulitis is the most severe form of diverticular disease. It can result in uncomfortable symptoms and, in some situations, significant problems. These complications can lead to long-term health issues if they are not managed.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis can cause symptoms that may range from mild to severe. These signs and symptoms may emerge suddenly or may take many days to present.

Common symptoms of diverticular disease include:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Causes of Diverticulitis

The exact cause of diverticular disease is still unknown. However, several factors can increase one’s risk of developing diverticulitis, including:

  • Decreased immune function
  • Diet
  • Genetics
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity

Complications Associated with Diverticulitis

  • Fistula: An unnatural link that can form between two organs, an organ, and the skin, or both.
  • Intestinal perforation: The presence of a tear or hole in the intestinal wall that can allow the contents of the colon to leak into the abdominal cavity. This can cause inflammation and infection.
  • Intestinal obstruction: An obstruction in a person’s intestine can prevent stool from passing.
  • Abscess: This is an infected pocket that is filled with pus
  • Phlegmon: A less well-contained infection that has abscess

Diagnosis of Diverticulitis

During the diagnosis of diverticulitis, the doctor is likely to inquire about the patient’s symptoms, health history, and any medication he/she takes. A physical examination will also be necessary on the abdomen to check for tenderness.

The doctor may order more tests so as to rule out other conditions and check for signs of diverticulitis. The tests may include:

  • Pelvic exam: To rule out gynecological issues
  • Blood tests: To look for indicators of anemia, inflammation, renal, or liver issues
  • Pregnancy test: To rule out pregnancy
  • Stool test: This is done to check for infections, such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
  • Imaging tests: Including abdominal ultrasound, abdominal MRI scan, abdominal CT scan, or abdominal X-ray, to create pictures of an individual’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract

Treatment of Diverticulitis

Treatment for diverticulitis is determined by the severity of the patient’s signs and symptoms. For mild symptoms, one can be treated at home whereby the doctor is likely to recommend the following:

  • For a few days, the patient is supposed to only consume liquids as the bowels heal. One can then gradually increase the quantity of solid foods after the symptoms have lessened.
  • Antibiotics to treat infections, however, in very mild cases, they may not be necessary.

For severe cases or if the patient has other health problems, he/she is likely to be hospitalized. Treatment will involve:

  • Intravenous antibiotics
  • Placing a tube within the abdomen to drain any existing abscesses

Surgery

Surgery will be a necessary intervention to treat diverticulitis if:

  • The patient has multiple episodes of uncomplicated diverticulitis
  • The patient is experiencing complications such as bowel abscess, fistula or obstruction, or a perforation in the bowel wall.
  • Weakened immune system
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