As people age, there are a number of conditions that become more common. A common condition in older patients is diverticulitis.
Definition of Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is defined as an inflammation of out pouchings of the intestine called diverticula.
Anatomy of Diverticulitis
Sometimes along the intestinal tract are small pouches called diverticula. These develop due to small hernias along the bowel wall, often from repeated strain such as in those with chronic constipation. These pouches can become blocked or become infected. When this happens it is called diverticulitis.
Causes of Diverticulitis
The exact cause of diverticulitis remains unclear; however, most of the medical community believes that diverticulitis develops due infection of the out pouched areas.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis
The symptoms of diverticulitis can vary depending on the severity of the conditions; however, common symptoms include:
- Pain in the left lower quadrant of the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Development of a fever
- Constipation or diarrhea
Diagnosis of Diverticulitis
Like most medical conditions, the diagnosis will start with a history and physical exam. The physician will look for many of the symptoms described above. The definitive way to diagnose diverticulitis is with computed tomography. The CT scan will show areas inflammation along the large bowel, helping to confirm the diagnosis of diverticulitis.
Prevention of Diverticulitis
It is difficult to prevent the development of diverticulitis; however, patients should eat a balanced diet high in fiber to minimize the chances of developing diverticulitis.
Am I At Risk of Diverticulitis?
The risk factors for diverticulitis include an older age, a low-fiber diet, a diet rich in animal products, patients who are obese, and those who smoke.
Treatment of Diverticulitis
Initial treatment is with bowel rest and antibiotics. For those patients with severe or repeated diverticulitis will need the attention of a surgeon. The infected area may need to be drained or require a colonic resection to remove the area of diverticulitis. Some patients will require a colostomy to allow the infected area to heal. Most patients will be able to tolerate colostomy reversal.
To learn more about treatment procedures for this condition please visit the following:
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