Through several life style changes, it is possible to manage diverticular disease and even prevent it from worsening. Try to make the following changes to help you keep living your life your way:
Stock pile your diet with tons of fibrous fruits and vegetables. Things like bran and oats are also a great idea. If you're really struggling, you can also use a fibre supplement to help you easily increase your intake. However, always make sure to talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet.Also, be sure to add more fibre to your diet gradually. Too much fibre too fast can lead to things like bloating and excessive gas.
Drinking lots of water will help you to avoid becoming constipated, and will increase the fluidity of stool, helping you to pass your stool more easily.
It's important to keep things moving! Regular exercise is important for good digestive health and helps to reduce stress. Although stress is not a cause of diverticular disease, stress can aggravate symptoms or make them feel more noticeable.
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. 2009. Establishing digestive health as a priority for Canadians. The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation – National Digestive Disorders Prevalence & Impact Study Report.
Strate LL et al. American Gastroenterological Association Institute Technical review on the management of acute diverticulitis. Gastroenterology. 2015 Dec;149(7):1950-76.
Tursi A. Advances in the management of colonic diverticulitis. CMAJ. 2012 Sep 18;184(13):1470-6.
Most people with diverticulosis have no symptoms and never develop complications. Without a complication, symptoms may be related to the low fibre diet rather than the diverticula themselves. Abdominal pain, cramps or irregular bowel habits are common symptoms and many doctors would say that these are due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) rather than to diverticulosis.
Patients with repeated episodes or a severe attack may need surgery. Surgery is usually not necessary but is sometimes performed in patients with severe or frequent complications. Often the bowel can be joined together immediately. If there is an infection a temporary connection between the bowel and the skin (colostomy) is formed to avoid connecting infected bowel. This surgery can be reversed at a later operation when the bowel is reconnected. The long term outlook is good.
Risk of developing diverticular disease increases with age. At age 55 the risk increases by a factor of 10 and at 75 years the risk has increased to 40. 50% of Canadians over the age of 80 years develop diverticular disease.
A diagnosis of diseases is based on the symptoms and examination, with tests that help confirm the diagnosis. In ill patients, a CT scan is the safest and most-cost-effective method of diagnosis.
Surgery is usually not necessary but is sometimes performed in patients with severe or frequent complications. Often the bowel can be joined together immediately. If there is an infection a temporary connection between the bowel and the skin (colostomy) is formed to avoid connecting infected bowel. This surgery can be reversed at a later operation when the bowel is reconnected. The long term outlook is good.
Mild episodes usually respond to antibiotics. Many episodes do not recur. Patients with repeated episodes or a severe attack may need surgery.
The risk for symptomatic diverticular disease is negligible for 35 year olds or younger. However, at age 55 the risk increases by a factor of 10 and at 75 years the risk increases to 40%. 50% of Canadians over the age of 80 years develop diverticular disease. At present, there are no known risk factors other than advanced age.
Bleeding occurs less often than diverticulitis and is not related to episodes of diverticulitis. Often patients do not have symptoms before bleeding occurs. There may be fresh red blood or altered darker blood. Pain is not frequent but cramps can occur. All patients with bleeding need to be investigated to rule out other causes of bleeding. Patients with major bleeding or those who feel light-headed should go to the emergency department. Bleeding often stops on its own but still should be investigated. Most patients do not have further bleeding but in some it may recur. Patients with, recurrent episodes often require surgery.
Diverticulitis is an infection in the diverticulum. This complication occurs in a few patients with diverticulosis. Men and women are affected equally. The resulting infection can be mild, leading only to abdominal pain; or severe, with diffuse infection or sometimes the development of an abscess (a pocket of pus). There is usually fever and an elevated white cell count in the blood. With healing there can be scarring, leading to bowel narrowing and obstruction. Fortunately, severe episodes account for less than one-quarter of all episodes of diverticulitis.
It is thought that lack of fibre in the diet may cause small stool size and high pressure contractions inside the colon. The inner lining then is pushed out through weak spots in the muscle, causing a pouch or a sac (diverticulum).
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