Diverticulosis & Diverticulitis – Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
The Diverticular disease is related to the large intestine or colon and it consists of three conditions that are known as Diverticulosis, Diverticular bleeding and Diverticulitis. The disease starts with the development of small sacs or pockets in the inner lining of the colon and bulges out of the wall of the colon. These pockets usually develop when naturally weak spots of thick intestinal walls have got increased pressure due to gas, waste or liquid mainly small hard stools. If a patient is experiencing the early stages of the disease without any complications then there is no specific treatment required but if the advanced and more complicated conditions start appearing then they can be diagnosed and treated in the best possible manner.
Let’s see in detail the three conditions of Diverticular disease: Diverticulosis, Diverticular bleeding and Diverticulitis and the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
What is Diverticulosis?
The large intestine or colon is a long tube like structure approx. 5-6 feet in length which stores and eliminates waste material that is left over after the food is digested in the small intestine. It is usually thought that the walls of the colon become thick with the age of a person which causes increased pressure required by colon to eliminate feces and even small, hard stools are difficult to pass and need increased pressure to pass. These repeated high pressures in the colon push the inner lining of the intestine outward through weak muscle areas in the shape of a small sac or bulging pocket. This small bulging sac pushing outward from colonic wall is called a Diverticulum, while more than one sac called as Diverticula. The Diverticula can form throughout the colon but they are most commonly form near the last portion of the intestine, which referred as Sigmoid Colon. The condition of having Diverticula in the lining of the colon is called Diverticulosis.
It is common in people living in Western countries while the condition is rare in Asia and Africa. The condition increases with the age of a person and it occurs 10% in people over the age of 40 and 50% in people over the age of 60. Complications, which can be severe and need treatment, are very rare as they occur in 20% of people having Diverticulosis.
What is Diverticular bleeding?
One of the complications of the Diverticular disease is Diverticular bleeding or rectal bleeding which occurs when small blood vessels situated next to Diverticula become injured. If you experience bleeding then immediately consult the doctor.
What is Diverticulitis?
Another complication of the disease is Diverticulitis, which occurs when one or more Diverticula become inflamed or infected. This usually happens when the sacs become blocked with waste in which bacteria can build up and causes infection.
What are the symptoms of Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis?
There are no troublesome symptoms of Diverticulosis. The symptoms of Diverticulitis include:
- Pain and tenderness in lower abdomen which is usually constant and persists several days
- High fever
- Alternating Constipation and Diarrhea
How is Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis diagnosed?
As the people with Diverticulosis don’t have any symptoms so it usually found through tests as recommended by the doctor.
If you’re experiencing Diverticulitis symptoms then it is important to see the doctor. Because the abdominal pain can be caused by various other reasons or problems so at first, the doctor needs to rule out all other possible causes of the symptoms through tests that include liver function test, stool test, pelvic examination and pregnancy test for women. Then the doctor asks you some questions about your medical history related to your symptoms, bowel habits, diet and medications.
After that the doctor performs physical exam most commonly Digital Rectal Exam. Some other tests may also be performed to look for the severity of infection and extent of bleeding; these tests include CT scan, X-rays, ultrasound, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and blood and urine tests. In case a patient has rapid and heavy Diverticular bleeding then the doctor performs angiography to locate the source of bleeding.
If you have the condition without symptoms and complications then you don’t need any specific treatment. But it is important to increase the high-fiber diet in order to prevent the formation of Diverticulitis.
How is Diverticulitis treated?
Usually the treatment depends on the severity of your signs and symptoms but generally the treatment for mild and complicated Diverticulitis includes:
Treatment for mild Diverticulitis:
The mild symptoms can be treated with rest, dietary changes and medications as recommended by the doctor mainly antibiotics to treat the infection and over-the-counter pain relieve medicine. Liquid diet is recommended for few days that heal your colon and you can gradually add solid food in your diet once the symptoms improve.
Treatment for complicated Diverticulitis:
If the symptoms become more severe, the patient needs to be hospitalized where treatment is given which involves intravenous antibiotics and insertion of a tube to drain the abscess if it has formed. Surgery may also be recommended if the patient has the complication of abscess, fistula, a tear or perforation (a hole) in intestinal wall and obstruction (blockage) of the intestine. There are two types of surgery, which includes:
- Primary bowel resection: In this type of surgery, the diseased or infected segments of your colon are removed and then the healthy segments are reconnected, allowing you to have normal bowel movements.
- Bowel resection with colostomy: The surgeon will perform this type of surgery if the inflammation is so much that it can’t be possible to remove the infected segments and reconnect your colon with the rectum. During this procedure, an opening is made in the abdominal wall, which is called stoma, and the healthy part of colon is connected to the surface of this opening. The waste passes through this opening into a bag rather through anus. The procedure can be temporary or permanent depending on the condition of individual patient.
Contact GI Endoscopy Practice Physicians in NJ:
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of Diverticular disease whether it is Diverticulosis or Diverticulitis then consult board certified physicians at GI Endoscopy Practice. They have years of experience in treating patients with Diverticulitis and this extensive experience enable them to diagnose the disease in a distinguished manner. They use advanced surgical techniques in a way that helps to lessen your pain and speed up the recovery process.