Chances are you’ve probably heard of this lengthy name but, unless you have experienced it yourself, you don’t know what it entails. Diverticulitis is a condition that surprisingly enough for how little understood it is by the public, is found in about half of the US population above the age of 60. Doctors are not entirely sure about it either, as the cause of it is not entirely known. However, we still understand enough to go over the symptoms, causes, and treatments of this widespread condition.
Other reasons it may develop are factors like having a genetic predisposition to it, being obese, or being a smoker. Also, not getting enough exercise, in general, can be a reason it might be presented. Lastly, it seems to also be increased if you have a low count of healthy bacteria in your digestive system or if you routinely take steroids or over-the-counter drugs like Advil.
The funny thing is, most people will never know they’ve had it. It will show up in certain scans and tests, like with an endoscopy procedure or an x-ray. But the majority of diverticulitis sufferers do not really suffer at all, at least as far as they know. The symptoms that are present in some people who have it are as follows: diarrhea, constipation, cramping, intestinal or stomach pain. If a diagnosis is sought, besides endoscopic examination or x-ray, the testing method would most likely be a barium enema, the use of flexible sigmoidoscopy, or a colonoscopy.
If a person is found to have the diverticula somewhere in the colon, then there are several options for treatment. For most common cases, that are mild to medium in severity, the medical response is to advise more fiber and fewer animal fats in the diet and more exercise. Sometimes antibiotics or other medications are prescribed. The use of probiotics has been observed as helpful too. At the extreme end of things, for severe cases, there are surgical options. For example, a section of the colon may be removed and the remaining ends reattached.
The bottom line is that having a good understanding of diverticulitis is a helpful thing, especially as you get older. There is no reason to wait if you are experiencing symptoms of this or any other digestive issue. Don’t hesitate to contact a medical professional as soon as you feel any discomfort or pain. This is something you will want to treat early and make lifestyle changes to avoid.