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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Diverticulitis, and How Is It Diagnosed?
Diverticulitis is a health problem that many people come across, and it affects the digestive system. It happens when tiny pouches called “diverticula” form in the lining of the digestive system, particularly in the large intestine. When they get infected or inflamed, it can lead to some unpleasant symptoms, which we will discuss in this article.
Signs and Symptoms of Diverticulitis
Abdominal Pain − Constant or sporadic discomfort on the left side of the lower abdomen is frequently characterized as being the most prevalent symptom of Diverticulitis. Pressure on the area, such as during bowel motions, coughing, or physical exercise, may worsen the discomfort. In extreme circumstances, the pain could spread further and worsen, sometimes necessitating medical attention. Not everyone with Diverticulitis will have stomach pain; some people may instead feel pain on the right side of the abdomen.
Fever − Fever is another common symptom of Diverticulitis and is mostly a sign of infection. A low-grade or high-grade fever may be present, accompanied by chills and sweats. Patients with severe cases of Diverticulitis may also experience a very fast heartbeat and low blood pressure.
Bowel Changes − Changes in bowel habits are also common in people with Diverticulitis. This may include constipation, diarrhea, or alternating between the two. This can be due to the inflammation and swelling of the diverticula, which can narrow the opening of the intestine and make it more difficult for waste to pass through. In some cases, there may be mucus or blood in the stool.
Other Symptoms − Other less common symptoms of Diverticulitis may include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. These symptoms may indicate a more severe case of Diverticulitis or a complication and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
Diagnosis of Diverticulitis
Physical examination, medical history, and diagnostic tests are frequently used to diagnose Diverticulitis. A doctor would often look for abdominal discomfort or swelling and other signs of infection or inflammation during a physical examination. To determine whether any underlying diseases might be causing Diverticulitis, they may also inquire about symptoms and collect a medical history.
Doctors may also suggest blood tests to look for bodily inflammation or any signs of infection. Increasing white blood cell counts could be a sign of an infection, requiring more testing.
Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, or ultrasounds can help detect the diverticula and find any inflammation or infection. The most commonly used imaging test for identifying Diverticulitis is the CT scan. Colonoscopy may also be used to diagnose Diverticulitis. During this procedure, a healthcare provider will use a long flexible tube with a camera on the rear side to examine the inside of the colon. This can help detect any abnormalities, including diverticula and signs of inflammation.
If diagnosed with Diverticulitis, treatment may involve a combination of medication, changes in diet and lifestyle, and, in severe cases, surgery. Treatment options may include antibiotics to treat any infection, pain relief medication, and dietary changes to help manage symptoms. A high-fiber diet may also be recommended to help prevent future diverticulitis flare-ups. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the affected portion of the intestine.
Several factors can increase the risk of Diverticulitis. Below are some of the risk factors.
Aging − One of the main risk factors for Diverticulitis is aging. It is more common in people over 50, and the risk continues to rise as they get older.
Overweight − This may be because carrying excess weight can put more pressure on the colon, leading to diverticula formation.
Smoking − Smoking There are a few lifestyle choices that can cause Diverticulitis more likely to happen. One of them is smoking, which has been linked to several digestive problems, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Hence, giving up smoking can enhance general digestive health and lower the incidence of Diverticulitis.
Lack of Physical Activity is yet another lifestyle factor that might promote Diverticulitis. Lack of exercise can cause the colon's ability to remove waste to turn slower, which raises the possibility of developing diverticula.
Unhealthy Siet − Having a diet that is low in fiber and high in animal fat can increase the risk of Diverticulitis, although the role of low fiber alone isn't clear. Fiber is important because it helps keep the colon healthy and function properly, and it can help prevent diverticula formation.
Medications − NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can increase the risk of the condition. These groups/types of medications can cause the colon to become irritated and inflamed, leading to the development of diverticula.
Ideal Lifestyle Routine to avoid Diverticulitis
A healthy lifestyle routine is key to the prevention of Diverticulitis. A balanced diet high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables is essential to achieve this. Regular physical activity should be done with moderation and intensity adjusted to individual fitness level. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated, as dehydration can be a symptom of Diverticulitis. Additionally, paying attention to any sudden changes in bowel habits should not be neglected. Making medical appointments when needed is also important for monitoring the disease, managing treatment, and following the doctor's instructions. All this combined makes up an ideal lifestyle routine to avoid Diverticulitis or flare-ups if already diagnosed.
It is important to note that prevention is key when it comes to Diverticulitis. Eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, and staying physically active can help prevent Diverticulitis from developing or recurring. If you are at risk for Diverticulitis or have a family history of the condition, do not hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider and take the necessary precautions.
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