What is Diverticular Disease? Basically, Diverticular Disease is a disease of the colon in which small pouches called diverticula develop on the lining of the digestive tract. It can be of two types: Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis.
Diverticulosis is a condition characterized by the presence of numerous diverticula along the walls of the intestine, especially on the lower part of the large intestine.
When one or more diverticula become inflamed then the condition is referred to as Diverticulitis. Diverticular Disease is more common in older individuals over the age of 50 years.
The exact cause of developing this disease is still not known. Still, increased pressure and straining are considered to play an important role in the formation of the small pouches or sacs occurring along the weak spots on intestinal walls.
Experts believe that the risk of developing this disease tends to increase with factors like increasing age, obesity, constipation and low fiber diet. Hereditary factors may also be held responsible for the same. Diverticular Disease is more prevalent in western countries.
Signs and Symptoms of Diverticular Disease
In most of the cases, Diverticulosis is not characterized by any significant symptoms. Therefore, Diverticular Disease in the form of Diverticulosis is characterized by ambiguous symptoms like irregular bowel movements, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting etc. The affected individual may also complain of abdominal pain on the lower left side of the abdomen.
When the diverticula become infected and inflamed, they cause symptoms like fever, severe abdominal pain, frequent urination, rectal bleeding and other such problems.
As Diverticulosis is not accompanied by serious symptoms, it usually remains undetected and progresses to Diverticulitis due to infection. As a result, the attack of Diverticulitis usually occurs suddenly, without warning.
Further, Diverticular Disease may also cause complications like fistulas, peritonitis, abscess, perforation, urinary tract infection, intestinal obstruction and other related complications. Peritonitis is one of the most serious and fatal complications of this disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Diverticular Disease
Diagnosis of Diverticular Disease is done on the basis of digital rectal examination followed by Colonoscopy, abdominal ultrasound and Computerized Tomography (CT) scan. Barium enema X-rays may also be performed to confirm the presence of diverticula. Stool samples and blood tests may also be required.
Including adequate amount of fiber in the diet is one of the best natural home remedies for this disease. Raw apples, Brussels sprouts, beans, potatoes, oatmeal and other such fruits, vegetables and whole grains are highly beneficial in this regard.
Diverticular Disease in the form of Diverticulitis usually requires the use of antibiotics and special drugs that help stop rectal bleeding. In severe cases, surgeries may also be performed.