Diverticulitis – the formation of pouches or folds in the intestines that become infected – can cause mild to severe abdominal symptoms and, in some cases, may require surgery.
Diverticula, described by The Mayo Clinic
as "small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive system," are common in people over the age of 40, but the medical website said they "seldom" cause any medical trouble.
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But in some cases, the pouches, which are often found in the colon, get inflamed, a condition called diverticulitis.
The following are symptoms from Mayo and WebMD
of this medical condition, which in mild cases can be treated with antibiotics and diet changes, but in more severe or recurring cases may require surgery:
1. Pain, usually in the lower left side of the abdomen, but it may also occur in the right side.
5. Abdominal tenderness
6. Constipation (although less frequently, some people have diarrhea)
9. Appetite loss
"Mild attacks of diverticulitis, with few symptoms or signs of infection or inflammation, sometimes heal without treatment," WebMD said. "In most cases, a doctor recommends oral antibiotics to resolve an infection and a clear liquid diet to rest the bowel until inflammation goes away."
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More severe attacks may need to be treated in the hospital with IV antibiotics, the website said. If an abscess or fistula, an opening, occurs because of the diverticula, surgery may be required to correct the problem.
Some of the risk factors associated with getting diverticulitis, according to Mayo, include aging, smoking, obesity, diets high in animal fat and low in fiber, and lack of exercise.
According to Harvard Health, increasing fiber in the diet can prevent flare-ups of diverticulitis. "Try to get 20 grams to 35 grams of fiber a day. The best sources are fruits, vegetables, and grains," the website said. "If you plan to increase your fiber intake, do it gradually and be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent constipation."
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