Sufferers of Diverticulitis condition are typically unaware that they have the disease until a sudden attack of severe abdominal pain and diarrhea accompanied by an alarming amount of blood sends them to the emergency room. After the initial anxiety of concern about the possibilities of colon cancer is dismissed, the patient is usually relieved by the diagnosis of Diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a permanent, but manageable condition, where the lining of a patient’s colon develops pockets, which in dormant state pose no symptoms, which may periodically become infected, resulting in abdominal pain and bleeding.
Common Symptoms of Diverticulitis
The most common symptom of diverticulitis is abdominal pain, and other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, feeling hot, cramping, and constipation. Symptoms usually begin early in the day and worsen as the day progresses. Patients may wake up the following morning, feeling considerably better only to find the condition worsening again during the course of the day. It is usually only after the pattern repeats itself over several days or exacerbates into more severe symptoms that a patient will seek medical attention.
Diagnosis of Diverticulitis
Physicians, when presented with a case that is later determined to be Diverticulitis, will first test for and rule out the more serious conditions of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, ischemic colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. Upon dismissal of these possible conditions, a CT scan will be conducted to confirm the Diverticulitis diagnosis.
Treatment of Diverticulitis
Immediate treatment includes replacement of lost fluids and several days of a clear liquid diet progressing to a low-fiber diet for up to a week to give the colon time to heal. After the episode is resolved, the patient will actually be placed on a high fiber diet to maintain colon health and reduce the chances of future infections. For many years, patients with Diverticulitis have been instructed by doctors to eliminate nuts, popcorn and seeds from their diet, under the belief that these small indigestible components become lodged in the diverticulum pouches and cause the infection. Absent of any prior clinical research to prove these findings, recent clinical research indicates that these diet items do not contribute to inflammation of the disease and, in fact, are proving to reduce the occurrence of flare-ups in patients with Diverticulitis. The prior recommendation to eliminate seeds and nuts from the diet is more widely becoming regarded as unsubstantiated medical lore, and is no longer part of the treatment regimen.
Prognosis of Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is not ordinarily a life-threatening disease, unless completely ignored and allowed to lead to degeneration of tissues risking dire infections and severe blood loss. Surgery is optional to remove portions of the affected colon, but is not recommended unless the case is severe, as the possibilities of complications resulting from any surgery usually outweigh the benefits in this case.