Constipated? Having difficulty passing your stool? You are quickly putting yourself at risk for developing diverticulosis. It is believed that pressure accumulation in the colon, created by people straining to pass harden stool, may cause the lining of the colon to bulge out in weak spots of the colon creating pouches, called diverticula. The condition of having diverticula is called diverticulosis (Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis, 2012). Although only ten percent of Americans over the age of forty have diverticulosis, the risk for developing it increases every ten years afterwards.
It is suspected that everyone over the age of eighty has some form of diverticulosis (Issa et al. , 2009). Diverticulitis, the inflammation of the diverticula, can present with different signs and symptoms. The inflammation can cause other complications, but ultimately the diagnosis is the same. The good news is that diverticulitis can be properly treated. Diverticulitis is the condition of the diverticula, the small pouches formed in the colon, becoming inflamed (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011). These pouches are primarily found in the large intestine of the colon.
Although there is not a specific proven culprit in causing diverticulitis, it is suspected that the small, narrow openings in the diverticula trap fecal material creating an infection. It is thought, not proven, that avoiding small foods such as nuts, kernels that are found in corn and popcorn, and even seeds found in some fruits like kiwi (Diverticulitis, 2012).. These small items are capable of entering the diverticula and causing a blockage. Another suspected cause of the inflammation is an obstruction in the diverticula which decreases the blood supply to the area.
Although there are many general symptoms of the disease such as fever, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and bloating; there are symptoms specific to the disease. These symptoms are sudden pain, which is normally severe, located in the left lower side of the abdomen as well as tenderness, also located in the same place. When the patient becomes symptomatic they need to seek a health care provider as soon as possible. If the symptoms are ignored, other complications can occur (Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis, 2012). Many different complications can result from the lack
of treatment of the disease. Bleeding, perforations, blockages, and also a more severe infection are all complications that are associated with diverticulitis. Bleeding from the rectum has been seen with the disease. It is suspected that the bleeding is caused by a blood vessel in the colon rupturing. When this is seen, it should be immediately reported to a physician and medical attention should be sought immediately. “A procedure known as a colonoscopy can be utilized to locate the bleeding as well as to stop the bleeding” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011).
If diverticulitis is left untreated, a more severe infection can occur creating an abscess. This is seen as a formation of a sac, filled with pus that can destroy tissue and cause swelling. Antibiotics are the primary choice of clearing up the infection and decreasing the swelling and the production of the abscesses. If antibiotics are not effective, then another approach to maintain the abscess is performed. This is done by inserting a catheter into the patient through the skin which drains the pus out of the sac. Another complication that may occur is a perforation.
This is where a hole is created through the entire wall of the stomach. This can cause peritonitis. Peritonitis will cause severe abdominal tenderness, excruciating nausea, vomiting and a fever. Peritonitis can be fatal without prompt treatment. The infection can cause scarring in the tissue which ultimately creates a blockage in the intestine, also known as an intestinal obstruction. The blockage, if only partial, disrupts the natural flow of the contents in the colon which will need a planned surgery to correct (Diverticulitis, 2012).
If the blockage is completely blocking the normal flow of abdominal contents, then immediate surgery is required to fix the problem. The key is early detection and prompt treatment of any of the complications. Many tests, devises, and methods are used to detect, diagnose, and evaluate individuals for complications of diverticulitis and for the disease itself. An x-ray or sonographies are normally conducted for the insertion of the catheter into an abscess for draining to help guide the catheter through the skin (Diverticulitis, 2012). It is much more therapeutic to detect diveeticulosis before it becomes inflamed into diverticulitis.
Since diverticulosis does not normally present with any signs and symptoms, it is usually detected during routine examines such as a colonoscopy. A computerized tomography scan may also be used. Better known as a CT scan, this allows doctors to view the abdominal are in a cross-section view via x-ray.
This procedure is non-invasive. However, you will be instructed to drink a dye that is similar to the dye injected by the doctor. Then you will be put into a donut shaped machine lying flat that enhances the mixture injected and swallowed so that the entire colon can be examined for any perforations or abscesses.
The other most commonly used test is an abdominal ultrasound. An ultrasound is performed by sending sound waves into your abdomen by a handheld device that is gently rubbed over you. The sound waves bounce off the colon and also bounce off any inflammation of the diverticula creating echoes that are read as electrical impulses. These electrical impulses create a picture on a video monitor called a sonogram (Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis, 2012). All these methods lead to a better understanding of where and how serious a specific case of diverticulitis is.
Obtaining accurate and in depth information concerning your ailment can lead to a more specific treatment, to the causes, creating a better and faster recovery. Treatment is different for each scenario. Types of treatment range from a simple change in your daily diet to having to be placed in a hospital for surgery. It is believed that an increase in fiber in your daily diet, along with antibiotics, can be used to treat most mild cases of diverticulosis and diverticulitis. If you are experiencing recurring complications, then you may have to go through more intense treatment such as surgery.
There are two primary types of surgery. The first being primary bowel resection, “This is where a surgeon removes the diseased portion of the intestine and reconnects the healthy portion of the colon” (Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis, 2012). This procedure allows for the return of the normal bowel movement. This particular surgery may be done by the traditional surgery consisting of a long abdominal incision. With this method recovery time may be longer than if the procedure is done by laparoscopic. With laparoscopy the incisions are smaller and three to four incision are made.
The other type of surgery performed is bowel resection. This is only performed if there is too much inflammation to rejoin the colon with the rectum. An opening in the abdominal wall is created, called a stoma, which is the new site of where the wastes of the colon are emptied into. If healing is appropriate and inflammation is managed, there is a possibility that months later the surgeon could possibly rejoin the colon and the rectum. This would allow for a normal emptying out of the rectum and the colostomy could be removed (Phend, 2012).
This would allow for normality of the body appearance to be optimal. Regardless of the progression and complexity of diverticulitis, it can be managed and treated with close attention and timely interventions. Although diverticulitis can nearly go undetected, there are tests and devices that can detect it. This disease can create many different problems with it, so it is critical to be proactive in your healthcare. Diverticulitis is not a particular disease that is simple to avoid, for that reason one should have a routine examine to increase your chance of early detection.
Even with the discomfort caused by the disease, there are proper interventions that can allow and promote a normal, painless, daily routine. References Diverticulitis. (2012, April 16). In U. S. National Library of Medicine – The World’s Largest Medical Library. Retrieved February 6, 2013, from http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001303/ Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis. (2012, February 21). In National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).
Retrieved February 6, 2013, from http://digestive. niddk. nih. gov/ddiseases/pubs/diverticulosis/ Issa, N. , Dreznik, Z., Dueck, D. , Arish, A. , Ram, E. , Kraus, M. , & Nuefeld, D. (2009, February). Emergency Surgery for Complicated Acute Diverticulitis [Electronic version]. Colorectal Disease, 11(2), 198-202. doi:10. 1111/j. 1463-1318. 2008. 01546. x Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011, May 21).
Diverticulitis – Definition. In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 6, 2013, from http://www. mayoclinic. com/health/diverticulitis/DS00070 Phend, C. (2012, December 18). Risks, Costs High in Diverticulitis Surgery. In Medpage Today. Retrieved February 6, 2013, from http://www. medpagetoday. com/Surgery/GeneralSurgery/36503.